‘The crocodile’s wife’ – a tale of transformations

  • Ernst R. Wendland


In this study, I trace the complex transformation of a traditional Chewa folktale (nthano) about a magical personal transformation, as this metaphorical story has been subsequently adapted for a dramatised radio representation. The artistic transformer, Julius Chongo, took a recording of the original village tale and used its plot as the kernel to generate a narrative ‘makeover’ for his popular weekly program, Poceza m’Madzulo (‘Evening Story Time’), aired countrywide on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation. My close comparative analysis documents the various interrelated changes that this literary transformation manifests in terms of content and style as it is masterfully adapted to suit a very different contextual setting, an oral-aural medium of text transmission and a modified goal of communication. This leads to a consideration of the various problems posed by the need for a linguistic transformation and the challenge of how best to represent both the original folktale and its modern recreation in another language (English) via the greatly diminished visual medium of print for remote reading and/or listening audiences.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614