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Student's questions about Kapitau: an African folktale.

Kapitau is an orphan boy whose story is unfortunate and fortunate. Agrena Mushonga (2001) a teacher from Zimbabwe wrote Kapitau and the Magic Whistle. It is one of the many folktales she wants to keep alive that her parents told in the evenings to their children. The orphan Kapitau is fortunate because Chief Chikobvu took him in and gave Kapitau work tending cattle. One day Kapitau encounters a snake that seems determined to give him a message. Kapitau is led to a cave where he meets an old woman. After Kapitau has served the old woman for some time she gives Kapitau a magic whistle and a chant to use with it. Good fortune comes to Kapitau. He becomes a rich king and has many wives and children. After a long time he shares the secret of the magic whistle with his favorite son, Simba. Simba promises to keep the secret but unfortunately he cannot help but tell his brothers about it. At about that time a neighboring chief and his warriors attack Kapitau and his people. Kapitau looks for his magic whistle to stop his enemies but alas it is gone. Many in Kapitau's family are killed. Kapitau loses his wealth and status becoming once more no more than a beggar man. Fortunately Kapitau's favorite son Simba finds the magic whistle near one of his fallen brothers. Knowing the chant Simba uses the whistle to gain good fortune. At the end of the tale Simba finds his father thus rescuing him from destitution. Kapitau is fortunate once again.

A Serendipitous Beginning

Agrena met Michelle when they attended the 2nd Pan African Reading Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. Afterwards Agrena sent Michelle a copy of Kapitau and the Magic Whistle (2001). It was serendipity that Bren, a grade five teacher, was visiting Michelle's class the day she read the story of Kapitau and asked college students preparing to be elementary school teachers what questions they would like to ask Agrena the author of Kapitau. Bren thought it would be interesting to see what her students would want to ask Agrena. And thus a study of students' questions about Kapitau began. To make the study even more interesting Agrena collected questions from students in Zimbabwe about Kapitau. Michelle, Bren and Agrena wondered about the following:

1. What kinds of questions do students from the US and Zimbabwe ask about the Shona folktale: Kapitau and the Magic Whistle?

2. To what extent does knowledge of Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe in the year 2000 seem important in reading the tale of Kapitau?

3. What can we learn as teachers about teaching with the folktale Kapitau and the Magic Whistle?

Our Research Perspective

Kwasi Wiredu (1996) has offered his African perspective on universalism and particularism in human culture. He observes that intellectual movements such as postmodernism have encouraged people previously marginalized (by reason of colonialism and related adversities) to redefine their identities by insisting "on particulars--their own previously unrespected or neglected particularities--rather than universals" (p. 1). One educational manifestation of the emphasis on particularities in the US and perhaps elsewhere is the call to use multicultural literature in schools to teach about cultural differences. In the US this is part of a larger effort to right the wrongs of yesterday wherein the school curriculum was focused primarily on the lives and histories of white males in western civilization.

In a US study of literacy professionals sixty-seven percent of respondents reported frequently selecting multicultural literature as part of an instructional theme or unit (Commeyras & DeGroff, 1998). One educational objective when teaching with multicultural literature is for students to learn about people from other cultures and places in the world. In learning about others the intention is to promote respect and understanding of other ways of living. In Kwasi Wiredu's philosophical perspective on universalism and particularism we see yet another important educational objective. Wiredu asks, "whether there is anything about which all the different cultures of the world can communicate" (p. 21). His answer is "everything" (p. 21). Wiredu's exemplar is language. "The possession of one language or another by all human societies is the cultural universal par excellence" (p. 28). He contends that what unifies us is more fundamental than what differentiates us" (p. 22). Universals across cultures are predicated on the fact of our common biological identity. He points out that there is nothing amiss in peoples or individuals looking for universals or particulars as long as it is done in the spirit of respectful dialogue. And he offers that the universal may arise out of a concern with particulars.

We are three teachers (that's a universal) who find Wiredu's ideas educationally important. While seeking to understand and respect cultural particulars with multicultural literature we must simultaneously attend to the universals among the people of the world. In the current emphases of multicultural education in the US Michelle and Bren see far more attention paid to particulars and little if any attention paid to what universals exist across cultures and peoples that makes possible intercultural communication. As three particular teachers we agree that a more promising future depends on more and better intercultural communication.

Teaching Procedures

US University Students

Before reading. Most Americans are ignorant about the African continent's people and places (Keim, 1999). This ignorance is particularly disturbing when found in those preparing to be social studies teachers. Osunde, Tlou & Brown (1996) in a survey of preservice social studies found that 94% of respondents thought wild animals were common everywhere and 93% were convinced that there are more kinds of diseases in Africa then in Asia and South America. None of Michelle's students had been to Africa and they most likely were as ignorant as the students preparing to be social studies teachers. To provide a more informed context for the reading of tale of Kapitau, Michelle, showed a PowerPoint presentation of photographs taken in Botswana (a country she has lived in and visited). Michelle's selection and arrangement of photographs was intended to dispute simplistic stereotypical impressions of Africa. There were contemporary photographs of Africa with a mix of traditional rondavels, large two story homes and industrial buildings made of glass and steel. There was one photograph of a bird and none of large safari animals. There were photographs of people of all ages doing a variety of activities. There were children at school, merchants selling goods, adults working at computers and people cooking and dancing at a wedding.

Also before reading Michelle showed two photographs that Agrena has sent of herself with her children. This added a dose of reality to Michelle's request that her students write questions to send to Agrena---questions they thought would lead to information that would be helpful as they imagined themselves using the story of Kapitau someday with elementary school children.

During Reading. As Michelle read the story of Kapitau to her twenty-two students she placed on an overhead projector transparencies of the pages from the book that were illustrated. Twice she stopped during the story to remind students to write down whatever they were wondering about.

After Reading. The twenty-two students wrote 116 questions. Students read aloud their questions so that they could appreciate the variety of thought amongst them. And they discussed the questions. Michelle sent the questions to Agrena via electronic mail. US Grade Five Students

Before reading. Bren spent several class periods preparing her students for Kapitau and the Magic Whistle. She wanted to situate the reading of Kapitau within a larger learning context. Michelle came and showed the students photographs of Botswana. They wrote before and after lists of what they knew about Africa.

They learned about the genre of folktales. Bren solicited from students' brief summaries of several folktales they already knew. Afterwards, Bren led the students to identify common folktale characteristics: the use of the number three or seven; a setting of long ago and far away; a moral or lesson taught; magic characters, events, and/or objects; a stylized beginning (Once upon a time) and ending (They lived happily ever after); characters who are royal, good or bad; and the fact that goodness is rewarded in the end.

She also provided another activity to familiarize students with some of the physical features of the African continent. Students used atlases, their social studies book, desk maps, and the classroom wall map to locate the Sahara and Kalahari deserts, the Atlas mountains, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Toubaki, the Zambezi, Nile, and Congo rivers, the Mediterranean, Indian and Red seas, and the equator.

The pictures of Agrena with her children were shown and Bren explained that Ms. Mushonga was a teacher in Zimbabwe, Africa who had written a folktale. The children were eager by this time to hear the story. Their interest was further fueled when Bren told them that they would be sending questions they had about the folktale to Ms. Mushonga.

During Reading. Bren read half the folktale on one day and the other half the next day. She remembers the students listening intently and writing questions in their journals. Bren paused periodically throughout reading to give them time to write.

After Reading. The ten grade five students discussed their 79 questions. And then the questions were sent by electronic mail to Agrena.

The children's interest in Africa and the tale of Kapitau led Bren to give a lesson on twelve Bantu words (e.g., tata--father, iduba--flower, syaanza--lion, wa buka--good morning, mwana--child) She wrote a sentence in English with one Bantu word included. The students used their knowledge of the known words to infer the meaning of the Bantu word. Another day the students wanted to write their own sentences incorporating Bantu words. Finally Bren's students did library research on one of the following countries: Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Standard Six Students. Agrena collected questions from standard six students in

Zimbabwe near Harare. After Agrena eliminated repetitious questions twenty-six unique questions remained. These were sent to Michelle and Bren for inclusion in the analysis of students' questions.

Descriptive Summary of Students' Questions US University Students

Of the 116 questions 22 questions were about how to use the Kapitau folktale as teachers.

"What age reader do you intend this for?" "Do you think the story is too gruesome for young children near the end?" The teacher candidates also wanted to know what types of activities they could use with the folktale. They wondered if they should discuss culture or just read it to students.

Twenty questions were about the origin of the folktale. "Is this type of story common in Zimbabwe?" "Does this story come from a particular background?"

Seventeen questions were about the magic whistle. "Why is the whistle magic?" "Why did Kapitau feel the need to tell Simba about the whistle?"

Eight questions asked about the moral of the tale. "Is there a moral to the story?" "Do you think this teaches that magic can fix things?"

Nine questions were about African names and words. "How are names and African words pronounced?" "Do the names have any special meanings?"

And seven more questions were about the word "Zishato." Students wondered, "Who is Zishato?" "What does, 'Kapitau do as you need to do with Zishato!' mean?" US Grade Five Students

There were twenty questions about Kapitau. "How did he survive the flood and why did his parents die?"

Six questions were specifically about Kapitau being in jail. And one student asked if Kapitau was a real person.

The children asked eighteen questions about the whistle. Three wanted to know what color the whistle was. Four wanted to know what the whistle could do. And there were many questions about why Simba had shown his brothers the magic whistle.

They asked eleven questions about the old woman who lived in the cave. For example, "Was the snake the old woman?" "Why did Kapitau trust the old woman?" There were seven questions about the snake. "What kind of snake was it?" "Was it poisonous?"

Six questions asked why Agrena chose to write down this story and what inspired her. There was one question that asked if the story was true. Zimbabwe Standard Six Students

Six questions were about the snake. "Where did the snake come from?" "Why did the snake follow Kapitau only and not the other children?"

Six questions asked about Kapitau. "Why didn't Kapitau escape from the cave?" "How many wives did Kapitau have?" There were four questions about the old woman. "Why did the old woman ask Kapitau to remove lice from her hair?" "Why did the old woman give Kapitau hard tasks inside the cave?"

There were two questions about the magic whistle. "Did the magic whistle change Kapitau's age, did it make him grow old?" "Why did Kapitau show Simba the magic whistle?"

Agrena's Response to Students' Questions

There are many reasons why I chose to write the story. My mother was a great storyteller. She grew up an orphan. She grew up under very difficult conditions. The story of Kapitau always reminded me of my mother's childhood. My father also grew up under the difficult conditions. His father passed away so he had to look after his mother who was blind and the other ten children. During the evenings, usually in winter, when we were around the fire outside our round grass thatched hut (the kitchen) my father told the story of Kapitau. He heard it from his mother who got it from her grandmother.

My mother inspired me to keep a story bank. As a teacher I discovered that children did not know many of any folktales. I told the story of Kapitau to a group of children. After that several pupils approached me wanting to read the Kapitau tale. And some children shouted "Kapitau" whenever I passed through their homesteads. It was then that I decided to record the story more permanently.

When I wrote the story I did not intend to teach a moral lesson. However, most folktales have subtle meanings and are didactic. The moral values I find in the story include love between Kapitau and his son Simba. There is kindness because Chief Chikubuvu took in Kapitau when he was orphaned. There was patience and perseverance because Kapitau went along with the old woman's odd way of life. Forgiveness occurred when Kapitau forgave his son for having given away the secret of the magic whistle. And Simba forgave his brothers for being jealous and teasing him. There was obedience and kindness when Kapitau did what the old woman wanted and needed.

You asked if the names have special meanings. Yes, most of them do. Kapitau is a name used by Malawian migrant workers to refer to their foreman. It became a common term in Zimbabwe. It means someone who is in charge or a commander or a boss. Chikobvu is a nickname given to a very fat person especially one who is obese. Simba means full of energy. Zishato is a name that is derived from Shato. Shato is the name of a snake known as python. It is the old woman in the cave who referred to old Zishato. And just for interest sake, Mushonga means medicine.

My response to the university students who think the story is too gruesome for children is that while many children's stories romanticize life I see nothing wrong with revealing the other side of what naturally occurs. Also children love to hear some of those little horrors. And important lessons can be taught like those I have already mentioned.

Question Analysis

Our approach to categorical analysis is based on an interactive view of reading wherein a variety of factors influence comprehension of print text. These factors include background knowledge, knowledge about text structures, genre knowledge, and physical, cognitive, linguistic, motivational and socio-cultural dimensions of the reader him or herself (Lipson & Wixson, 1997). Of these dimensions we are specifically concerned with cultural background knowledge. Research on the role of background, or prior, knowledge has led to an appreciation of its influence on how people make sense of text. What an individual knows about events, ideas, people, and cultures affects the meaning they construct. Research supports the view that background knowledge is organized in long-term memory as knowledge structures. Each individual knowledge structure is referred to as a schema. Thus the interactive view of reading is also known as the schema-theoretic view of reading (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). A schema that is relevant to comprehending the tale of Kapitau and the Magic Whistle is the condition of being an orphan. Everyone's schema for orphan is not necessarily the same but probably has some common features. It seems possible that students in the US will have a different schema for orphan then will students in Zimbabwe. And between grade five and university students in the US there will be differences in their orphan schemata. Likewise the same is true within and among students in the US and Zimbabwe. Our research interest is with the role that culture and experience play in comprehending the folktale of Kapitau.

Using students' questions about Kapitau we want to learn what kinds of background knowledge (particularly with regard to Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe) is desired by readers from the US and Zimbabwe. What similarities might there be? What differences? To pursue our questions we designed a five-category system to analyze students' questions. There were 128 student questions to analyze. The process of deciding what category was most appropriate for each question sometimes was simple and other times less obvious.

Knowledge of Shona/Zimbabwe

The first category "knowledge of Shona/Zimbabwe was for questions that indicated a desire to know about Shona culture and knowledge of life in Zimbabwe. This was knowledge that Agrena might have as the author but it was also knowledge that could be found among others who know Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe.

"Is the story common in Zimbabwe?" If the story were common then other Zimbabweans in addition to Agrena would know about it. One could ask someone who knows many folktales about the familiarity of the story.

Text Comprehension without Cultural Knowledge

The second category "text comprehension without knowledge of Shona or Zimbabwe was for questions that called for returning to the text of Kapitau but did not require knowledge of Shona or Zimbabwe. In some cases the questions could be answered from information available in the text or with inferential thinking where some kinds of background knowledge might be relevant. "Did Simba tell his brothers about the magic whistle?" The answer is right there in several sentences: "Pressure mounted on Simba and he became so angry that he could not contain himself. He quickly ran to his father's secret room and took the magic whistle. "There you are,' said Simba boastfully, showing the magic whistle to his brothers" (pp. 9-10). The answer to "Where did Kapitau get his powers?" can be inferred from the following paragraph and subsequent paragraphs about what happens when Kapitau does blow the magic whistle.

"Well, well, I am proud of you," said the old woman. "Get this." She handed over a small whistle to Kapitau. "This is yours. I want you to listen carefully. When you blow this whistle, you should say, 'Kapitau do as you need to do with Zishato!" Do you understand? This is your secret, don't ever tell anyone about your whistle"

Text Comprehension with Cultural Knowledge

The third category was for questions where the answer depends on knowledge of Shona culture and/or life in Zimbabwe in conjunction with the key process of inferencing in a schematic theory of reading. The question, "Did the snake turn into the lady?" calls for knowing that spirits can inhabit both the bodies of people and animals in Shona culture. This knowledge combined with information in the folktale allows for the inference that indeed the snake and old woman were one.

Author Only Knowledge

The fourth category was for questions that only Agrena as the author could answer. Examples are: "Did you collect firewood?" "How would you describe the moral of the story?" "Have you seen a big snake?"

Folktale Knowledge

The fifth category was for questions that indicated the need to know about the genre of folktales and expected features. A student asked, "Has it been passed down for generations?" By definition folktales are stories passed down through ages.


There were differences among the three groups of student questions about Kapitau and the Magic Whistle (Mushonga, 2001). Our purpose was to find out what the trends were with regard to kind of questions posed (see Table 1).

US University Students

The university students preparing to be elementary school teachers proportionately asked more questions calling for knowledge of Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe then did school children in the US or Zimbabwe. One third of their questions were focused on linguistic, historical and educational knowledge that only someone familiar with Shona and Zimbabwe could answer. This is encouraging given that one of goals of their teacher education program is culturally relevant teaching and using multicultural literature. These preservice teachers were aware of their need to know more about the cultural context of Kapitau and the Magic Whistle. Their questions showed that among the group of twenty-two preservice teachers there was an awareness that knowing about inheritance, Shona words, and the symbolism of snakes was relevant to comprehending the folktale.

We believe that the most desirable way to learn about another culture is through direct experience. When this is not possible we turn to learning from reading. One source we recommend is Introduction to Shona Culture (Mutswairo, Masasire, Furusa & Chiwome, 1996). The book was written for an elementary Shona culture course at the University of Zimbabwe for visiting students mostly from colleges in the US.

Of interest were the questions about the appropriateness of a story with "gruesome" content such as "pool of blood" and "touching corpses." It is typical of university students and teachers in the US to be very concerned and cautious about the content of what they read or make available to students. One university student speculated, "Perhaps children need to feel comfortable with death and dying because it is real life." Agrena's response supports this view. She wrote, "While there are many children's stories/books that romanticize life/events/situations, the writer sees nothing wrong in revealing the reverse as part of nature. As such this could be used to teach children important lessons in life, for example, do's and don'ts. Do not kill."

The grade five students in Bren's class did not seem shocked or unduly focused on the violent dimensions of the folktale. We know that children in the US are exposed to plenty of violence through television and movies. Yet educational policy in the US wants to keep out of schools and the curriculum certain realities. A good example is the finding by Jeanne Heifetz who as a mother of a high school senior did some investigating of a New York state test required of all seniors (Kleinfeld, 2002). She discovered that the vast majority of passages used to assess reading comprehension and literacy interpretation had been altered--censored--sanitized. References to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol and profanity had been removed from literary works. Heifetz argues that the sanitization of text significantly alters understanding the passages as whole entities. The text examiners rationale for censoring content is to spare students from feeling ill at ease while taking a test.

We suggest that in the US educational system there is a culture of avoidance of controversy that in our view undermines learning how to cope with the realities of life here, there and everywhere. Furthermore there is a history of folktales being sanitized by those who want to protect children from violence. We think educators should draw a distinction between the gratuitous violence in television, movies, video games and the violence that occurs in real life struggles between peoples. As educators we need to acknowledge and consider the violence that has happened in the past and that which continues today. It remains unclear how to convince teachers in the US that it is not educational when we attempt to shelter children from the realities of life. As teacher we are challenged to make learning about life an educational experience. And in the context of learning about Africa and Africans this is very important because of the negative stereotypes that prevail. As Curtis Keim (1999) aptly put it, "What we should strive for is a view of Africa as a continent of real people, both like us and not like us, similar and different" (p. 11).

US Grade Five Students

Almost half (47%) of the questions posed by ten and eleven year old children in Bren's class were ones that indicated a need to return to the text to find stated information or to consider plausible inferences using details given. For some of their questions there is an answer in the folktale. One child wanted to know how Simba found the whistle, another wanted to know why Kapitau's parents died, and another wanted to know where Kapitau got his powers. Answers to these questions can be found by rereading the text.

Other students asked questions that called for inferential thinking. One student asked, "Why did Simba tell his brothers about the magic whistle?" The response Agrena gave shows that a satisfactory answer can be constructed from details in they story and from some general background knowledge about sibling rivalry. She wrote the brothers were teasing Simba. They said that despite being his father's favorite he would still not receive anything after the father died because Simba because they would take everything from him. This prompted Simba to show them that he had something special--the magic whistle.

Zimbabwe Students

We found that almost half of the questions (48%) asked by Zimbabwe students were categorized as needing knowledge of Shona culture or life in Zimbabwe in conjunction with text comprehension processes. Perhaps because these are children of Shona culture living in Zimbabwe they are poised to wonder about matters that require integrating cultural knowledge with text comprehension. Asking if "Zishato (the snake) was a witch?" may more readily occur in a cultural context where witches sometimes take the form of animals as well as people? Or asking, "Why was Chief Chikobvu jealous of Kapitau?" may come from knowing that there may be multiple reasons for rivalries between chiefs.

The Zimbabwean children also had a significant percentage of questions (30%) that we classified as text comprehension without Shona or Zimbabwe knowledge. Like the grade five students in the US the children are in the process of developing their text comprehension abilities. They are learning how to think about what is being implied and what is more obviously stated.

Across Students' Questions

All three groups of students asked questions that called for text comprehension. More than 70% of the questions from the younger students were focused on text comprehension (with and without cultural knowledge).

Both groups of younger students wanted to know why Kapitau showed his son Simba the magic whistle. The university students did not ask this question. Perhaps the university students being closer to parenting understand the desire to pass along to children special knowledge or gifts. Whereas the children may be perplexed as to why Kapitau as the adult would entrust child with something as valuable as a magic whistle.

There was one question that all three groups of students asked:

Did the snake turn into the old lady? (US grade five)

Was the snake the old woman too? (Zimbabwe Standard Six)

Does the snake symbolize the old woman? (US University) The text does provide the basis for the inference that the snake and the old lady are one. The snake and the old lady both are involved in having a kind of spell over Kapitau and they are never present at the same time. First the snake leads Kapitau to the cave and then it suddenly disappears. Almost immediately there appears "a thin ugly old woman ... with small sunken eyes, a very big nose and big sharp teeth which her mouth could not cover" (p. 2). Kapitau's reaction to her was with the same kind of fear he had when the snake confronted him. One of the features of folktales is people or talking animals that have exaggerated or magical abilities.


Returning to our philosophical guide Kwasi Wiredu (1996) we are interested in his contention that "what unifies us is more fundamental than what differentiates us" (p. 22). While there were differences in the three groups of students with regard to wondering about cultural particulars there was unity in wondering about transformation. The folktale implies that that the snake and old woman were one in the same. Believing that the same spirit can inhabit both a snake and a woman may differ between students while the possibility of it being so in the folktale was universal for them all. This is because folktales allow for animism and because the genre of folktale is universal. Every culture has the tradition of just plain folks telling tales. Most intriguing is the universal themes found across folktales from around the world. Cinderella motifs have been found across cultures, countries and continents (Dundes, 1982).

Another universal in our analysis is the finding that the school children in the US and Zimbabwe asked questions that focused mostly on text comprehension. This makes sense given that both groups of children are in the process of developing their abilities to construct meaning using textual information along with the particulars of their background knowledge. The university students who are understandably more experienced readers asked fewer text comprehension questions than did the children. The need to develop of reading comprehension in children is something all educators have as a responsibility. Cultural customs and practices are a significant dimension of the background knowledge that readers need. Constructing meaning depends on making certain inferences and those inferences often call for considering knowledge of a particular culture or of universals across cultures. Teaching with folktales presents us as educators with an opportunity to teach both cultural particulars and human universals.

When we set out to collect students' questions about the Kapitau folktale we wondered to what extent knowledge of Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe would be important. In other words what particulars that might matter in reading the folktale told to Agrena by her Shona parents. The analysis reveals that it was the Zimbabwe children and the US university students whose questions focused most on wanting knowledge of Shona and Zimbabwe. The questions from children in Zimbabwe though were text comprehension questions that called for that knowledge. For the university students it was more general knowledge of culture and place that was desired. It is usually assumed in teaching with multicultural literature that knowing about a story's particular culture matters most for those outside that culture. Our findings bring new complexity to that assumption. It seems that the Shona Zimbabwean children were poised to wonder about the story in ways that called for thinking about cultural knowledge whereas the children in the US were not thinking as much about culture. Fortunately the US university students preparing to be teachers did want to know more about the cultural context.

We have no doubt that all readers of Kapitau would benefit from knowing more about Shona culture and life in Zimbabwe. It is a desirable condition for reading comprehension but not always a necessary condition. Across all students there was engagement with the tale of Kapitau as is evidenced by the number and quality of their questions. Kapitau's misfortunes and fortunes were of interest to the school and university students. In using the questions generated by students to think about a Shona folktale from Zimbabwe we learned what was particular and what was universal from students' perspectives. Michelle and Bren had hoped to extend the cross-continent and cultural exchange by sending a well-known American folktale for Agrena to read to her students. What questions would Zimbabwean students have about the legendary Johnny Appleseed who planted apple trees across the US? How would their questions compare with Bren's grade five students? What cultural particulars would matter and what human universals would surface? Our interest as educators like that of Kwasi Wiredu has been to find and acknowledge the universal while simultaneously respecting cultural particulars.

"The human constitution of flesh and bones, quickened by electrical charges and wrapped in variously pigmented integument, is the same everywhere; while there is only one world in which we all live, move, and have our struggles, notwithstanding such things as the vagaries of climate. These facts, which underlie the possibility of communication among kith and kin, are the same facts that underlie the possibility of communication among the various peoples of the world. The same facts make all human beings kindred." (Wiredu, 1996, p. 23)


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Kleinfeld, N. R. (2002, June 10-16). "A test sanitizes its literary texts" The New York Times. Pp. 14-15.

Lipson, M. Y., & Wixson, K. W. (1997). Assessment and instruction of reading and writing disability: An interactive approach. New York: Longman.

Mushonga, A. (2001). Kapitau and the magic whistle. Harare: Priority Projects Publishing.

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Michelle commeyras

University of Georgia

Bren Daniel

Honey Creek Elementary School

Conyers, Georgia

Agrena Mushonga

University of Wolverhampton
Table 1. Five Category Analysis of Students' Questions

 US University US Grade Five Zimbabwe Standard

Knowledge of 16 (33%) 1 (2%) 2 (7%)

Text comprehension 7 (15%) 25 (47%) 8 (30%)

Text comprehension 12 (25%) 13 (24%) 13 (48%)
with knowledge of

Author only 5 (10%) 11 (21%) 0

Folktale Genre 8 (17%) 3 (6%) 4 (15%)

Totals 48 (100%) 53 (100%) 27 (100%)
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Author:Commeyras, Michelle; Daniel, Bren; Mushonga, Agrena
Publication:Journal of African Children's and Youth Literature
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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