MANITOWOC, Wis. — One folktale involves a boiling cooking pot and the characters Mr. Hare and Mr. Leopard, who are trying to best one another.
Another features a gorgeous young woman having trouble picking from her many suitors. She decides to put the young men to a test that requires climbing the tallest tree and bringing back a leaf from the very top.
These are two of 12 Ugandan folktales recently published in a book by Sister Maddy Takyala, a senior at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family. The bilingual volume, “Luganda-English Folktales,” is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Sister Taylaka is a Roman Catholic Religious Sister in the Daughters of Mary Congregation (Bannabiikira), located in Bwanda-Masaka in the East African country of Uganda. She is among numerous international Sister students sponsored each year by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, founders of the Silver Lake College of the Holy Family.
The English, education and computer science major plans to return to Uganda to teach after graduation.
The youngest of 11 children, Sister Takyala recalls how her parents would recount folktales as the family gathered around the fire during the evenings. “Children in Uganda know these folktales. They listen to them and share them with other children,” she said.
The idea to write down the stories came about when Sister Takyala enrolled in English Curriculum and Methods class for future English teachers, taught by Sister Nancy Kinate.
“I asked Sister Maddy where she would be teaching and realized that the Ugandan culture is rich in oral folktales that have been passed on for generations,” said Sister Kinate. “Most of the stories have never been translated into another language as far as we know.”
They decided that compiling a book of some of the folktales in the English and Luganda languages would be an ideal way for children in Sister Takyala’s home country to learn to read, write, speak, sing and think in both languages. The stories, which run side-by-side, bridge the gap from the known (the folktales) to the unknown (reading and writing in Lugandan, then later in English.)
“The book can be used flexibly but ideally for readers from sixth through 12th grades,” Sister Kinate said. “The accompanying teaching notes are referenced with the Common Core Standards to develop language arts and critical thinking skills systematically. Sister Maddy can teach concepts such as dialog, use of quotation marks, character and the other literary and grammatical aspects of English in a natural and familiar context.”
Because some of the stories are sung, the book also contains musical translations of the folktales. Sister Winifred Crevier and Sister Mary Carol Kopecky, Franciscan Sister musicians, helped with transcribing the music and lyrics.
Sister Takyala also put her computer skills to use by creating an app so that she could self-publish the paperback book.
Students in her home country aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the stories. Sister Takyala was pleasantly surprised to find that “Luganda-English Folktales” has generated a buzz among Ugandans living in United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia because they are interested in passing on their language and culture to their children.
Proceeds from sales of the book will go toward supporting the Ugandan orphans who are under the care of her religious community, Sister Takyala said.
She dedicated the volume to her nieces and nephews, and children in the U.S. and Uganda.
“I want to thank Sister Natalie Binversie, the community director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity; Sister Adrianna Schouten, my education contact person; and the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity because the education they gave me is not just for me, but for my whole community. I am especially grateful to Sister Nancy Kinate because she really encouraged and supported me,” Sister Takyala said.
“We worked hard, but it was fun,” Sister Kinate said.
Affectionately called Sister Maddy, the author’s full name is Sister Magdalene Claire Takyala Nakimbugwe. To learn more about her book, “English-Luganda Folktales,” click here.
PHOTO: Sister Nancy Kinate and Sister Maddy Takyala hold a copy of the book, “Luganda-English Folktales,” which they worked on together.