“Discovering a deeply meaningful African myth is like finding an old snapshot of myself in a place long forgotten…. These myths are more than just folk tales or fables…. Here are epics as grand as Gilgamesh, heroes as hardy as Hercules, heroines as vexing as Venus.” And yet, as Clyde W. Ford discovered, the great myths of Africa were left out of the key works of modern mythology, missing from the sacred stories of world culture.
Taking it as his mission to reclaim this lost treasure, Clyde W. Ford has written a fascinating and important book–one that both brings to life the ancient tales and shows why they matter so much to us today.
African myths convey the perennial wisdom of humanity: the creation of the world, the hero’s journey, our relationship with nature, death, and resurrection. From the Ashanti comes the moving account of the grief-stricken Kwasi Benefo’s journey to the underworld to seek his beloved wives. From Uganda we learn of the legendary Kintu, who won the love of a goddess and created a nation from a handful of isolated clans. The Congo’s epic hero Mwindo is the sacred warrior who shows us the path each person must travel to discover his true destiny.
These and other important African myths show us the history of African Americans in a new light–as a hero’s journey, a courageous passage to a hard-won victory. The Hero with an African Face: Mythic Wisdom of Traditional Africa enriches us all by restoring this vital tradition to the world.
Review: The Hero with an African Face
“Extending the sensibility of Joseph Campbell, Ford exposes readers to African myths and folk tales, finding that they harbor both culturally specific and universal motifs. Ford (Where Healing Waters Meet) has a diverse background in business, chiropractic, psychotherapy and African-American history. He recounts many traditional African stories, exploring their metaphors, symbols and archetypal figures, their answers to the timeless questions of how to live, how life began and how it will end. While these tales have been notoriously absent from world literature, they are strikingly similar to Eastern, Western and Middle-Eastern mythology in many ways. As Ford splices the myths with his engaging analyses of them, he illuminates universal themes and values, symbols and characters. Applying the hero’s journey to the African diaspora (“the massive forceful displacement of millions of Africans”), he ruminates: “there is every reason to believe that African slaves… understood their capture and travails in just such mythic terms.” Likely to find its way into college classrooms, Ford’s comprehensive work supplies a missing piece of world mythology.” –Publishers Weekly
Praise for The Hero with an African Face
“This fascinating exploration of African stories and myths…tells us who we are as human beings–all of us.” –Cornel West, author of Race Matters
“This wonderful and sustaining work illuminates the power and importance of ancient African myth…. Scholarship and masterful storytelling combine…fascinating.” —NAPRA ReView
“A master storyteller….Clyde Ford picks up where Joseph Campbell left off.” –Jonathan Young, Ph.D., founding curator, Joseph Campbell Archives and Library
“This is a breakthrough book on the mythic imagination of Africa.” —Atlanta Daily World
“An important first look at the universal themes of some of the principal African myths…excellent and much-welcomed.” —Seattle Times
“An excellent introduction to African mythology….Brings insights into the myths themselves and encourages further reading.” —The Bloomsbury Review