Mambo is a young African boy—more specifically, he is from Cameroon, where the author, Gladys Kenfack, is from—that was brought to life last year in a series of children books. Today, three books featuring the character have been published. Besides enjoying the story plots, Mambo’s avid fans can also discover elements of the African Culture and traditions.
In the first title, Mambo Goes to School, a few cultural components to highlight include:
- Waking up to the sound of a rooster crowing instead of a battery operated alarm clock is very frequent in most African villages.
- Carrying water on the head from the well or from a river is a very common practice. The water is used for cooking, house chores and drinking.
- The concept of school-provided lunch is quasi-inexistent in Cameroon. Some kids bring lunch from home (like Mambo and Kai); other kids bring a little bit of money to buy food such as beignets or sandwiches. Most amazingly, sharing one’s lunch is very common among kids in school. Unfortunately, a few are left with no money or lunch to eat at school.
The second title is centered on the culture in the Grasslands people of Cameroon. In Mambo and the Great Baobabs Reunion, the author explores a common village reunion that features the essence of African life.
- Music, dance and storytelling—these three elements play a key role in the lives of African people. Through music and dance, we interact, we celebrate. With storytelling, we pass on our traditions from one generation to another.
- Whether it is made of wood, bronze, gold, or bones, art in West and Central Africa plays an important role spiritually and ceremonially in people’s lives. Many art objects also symbolizes authority, protection, wealth, and power.
- Besides being delicious, African food is very diverse. One common trend may be the spiciness of our soups and the variety in our fufus.
In the third title, Mambo Goes to the Market, Mambo learns how to barter at the market.
- Cowrie shells, once were the most popular currency in Africa, are used in this book in lieu of coins. Although there are now modern currencies throughout Africa, the art of striking a bargain is the same regardless of the means of payment—cash or trade of cowries shells, in this case.
- Haggling in an African market is like a dance—the buyer (almost) threatens to walk away if the seller doesn’t give them a discount and meet them at their offering price. Then, the seller (almost) pretends the lowest possible price has been reached. As both parties go back and forth and literally begin to walk away from the item being sold . . .magic! A deal is made. This goes on forever—but with patience, you can keep striking these great deals just like Mambo does.
- African fabrics and patterns are very distinctive, with a great use of symmetry and bright colors. Many pieces of clothing are one-size-fits-all—so everyone is guaranteed to find something that fits.
There are many more features of culture that await you as little treasures throughout the Mambo book collection. Pick up your copy and look for these amazing elements! If you do not yet own these books, you can find the summaries of the books on our website www.balafun.com/books or order your copies on Amazon.com