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In reading the description of the trickster on page 382 of the textbook, I would have never guessed that the role of the trickster as so deep rooted in the origins of poverty. I was extremely naive in my assumptions of the trickster as I thought he was simply a antagonistic figure. He caused trouble for those who trusted him and therefore developed a hardship for the protagonist. This chapter explains how the trickster is actually a representation of a society’s hardships and how one copes with it.

This chapter divides the trickster into two forms: the African version, and the American. While stories in both these cultures represent the constant lack of everyday societies, the cause of that poverty is different. The author explains that in Africa hardship was primarily caused by war and natural disasters and the therefore the trickster uses “wit to obtain the the supplies he needed while respecting and even affirming the communities values” and therefore his “behaviour was viewed as acceptable adaptive behaviour”.

After reading this chapter, I could not help but think of the chameleon (Agadzagadza) featured in the African origins of death. The author explained that the trickster acted in response to hardship but Agadzagadza is made to be the cause of natural disaster rather than reacting to it. I know that that tricksters operate on the sheer joy of disruption, much like Agadzagadza does, but I get the impression that there should also be personal gain. So is Agadzagadza an anomaly amongst African tricksters?

I would love to hear your thoughts!  

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One thought on “Agadzagadza: The Trickster

  1. I thought the same way you did–that the trickster was simply an antagonistic figure. As you’ve stated in your post, these tricksters stories (in the African & African-American stories) are rooted in poverty. Off hand, I can’t really say I know any trickster tales, but now you have me thinking as to why they exist. Poverty would be present in almost any society, so I wonder if other “challenging” figures represent this quality as well, or any other aspects related to oppression, marginalization, and so forth. Is this to be found in the trickster stories of other cultures?

    Tricksters could also represent aetiological aspects of their culture or society, as Agadzagadza can explain the reason people die. I agree, you would think that the trickster would have something to gain, which this lizard does not. Hmm, something to contemplate…

    C.

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