Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus in their Own Words: With a Translation into English, and Notes by the Rev. Canon Callaway. Volume 1


Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus in Their Own Words is a compilation of Zulu literature gathered by the Reverend Henry Callaway (1817–90) in the Natal region of South Africa in the late 1850s and 1860s. Callaway left the United Kingdom in 1856 to become a Church of England missionary. In 1858 he settled near the Umkomanzi River in Natal and began to study the Zulu language, religious beliefs, and oral traditions. As Callaway mastered the language, he wrote down tales dictated to him by native storytellers. The English translations of the stories appear in parallel sections next to the original Zulu text. Callaway was intensely committed to recording as accurately as possible the particularities of the Zulu language and literature, as they had been before any exposure to European influences, but he was also impressed by the “unexpected relationships” between Zulu tales and corresponding legends among other peoples. These relationships, he wrote in the preface to the work, “will more and more force upon us the great truth, that man has every where thought alike, because every where, in every country and clime, under every tint of skin, under every varying social and intellectual condition, he is still man…, one in his mental qualities, tendencies, emotions, passions.”

Last updated: September 18, 2015