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Voice in the Forest
Suitable for upper primary pupils and children between 9 and 11 years (class 4 to 6)
“Dr. Efua Sutherland has once again rescued a couple of folktale mores from our oral traditions and brilliantly merged and polished them into a truly wondrous gem of a tale for young people, as well as the young at heart. This new and dynamic rendering makes some ancient world wisdom accessible to today’s children.” Ama Ata Aidoo, 2006
Voice in the Forest draws upon the traditional fairy tales and folktales of Ghana. Unlike most traditional tales which seek to explain one thing, this story explains several things and practices; the mandatory rest day for farmers, the founding of a village and why calling children bad names is wrong. It’s ambitious. And yet it captures and holds a child’s attention so completely.
The illustrations, by Ralph Sutherland, are just stunning. Stunning.
Voice in the Forest is a fantastic story.
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Efua Sutherland, (born June 27, 1924, Cape Coast, Gold Coast [now in Ghana]—died January 22, 1996), Ghanaian playwright, poet, teacher, and children’s author, who founded the Drama Studio in Accra (now the Writers’ Workshop in the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon).
After completing her studies at the Teacher Training College in Ghana, Sutherland went to England to do further work at Homerton College, Cambridge, and at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Upon her return to Accra, she helped to establish the literary magazine Okyeame, founded the Experimental Theatre, which became the Ghana Drama Studio, and directed the University of Ghana’s traveling theatre group. The Drama Studio produced a number of her plays, including the well-known Foriwa (1962), a play which stresses the alliance of new ways and old traditions, and Edufa (1967), based on Alcestis by Euripides. The Marriage of Anansewa: A Storytelling Drama appeared in 1975.
Sutherland established the Drama Studio as a workshop for writers who wrote for children. The studio soon became a training ground for Ghanaian playwrights. Sutherland herself wrote several works for children, including two animated rhythm plays, Vulture! Vulture! and Tahinta (both 1968), and two pictorial essays, Playtime in Africa (1960) and The Roadmakers (1961).
Many of Sutherland’s works were broadcast in Ghana on a popular radio program, “The Singing Net,” and most of her unpublished plays were performed by drama groups in Ghana. Many of her short stories can be described as rhythmic prose poems; one of her later plays, Nyamekye, a version of Alice in Wonderland, shows the influence of the folk opera tradition. Sutherland’s book of fairy tales and folklore of Ghana, The Voice in the Forest, was published in 1983.