Sangu Plant Tales: An Eco-portrayal of Human Floral Dependency

Michael Joel Kalenge


Abstract Generally, plants constitute the very foundation of human and nonhuman life. These organisms, among others produce fresh air that surrounds the Earth and provide organisms with food and nutrition. They provide organisms with medication, shelter and wearable materials. Moreover, plants are vital sources and materials for botanical imagination. Their omnipresence in literature in form of tales and devices such as symbols, similes, metaphors, satire, and personification is not a new thing; they have been making their appearances in art from since time immemorial. However, a critical eye on their potential literary imaginings particularly in Tanzania’s orality has largely been unnoticed or overlooked as a minor issue. Through the analysis of selected Sangu plant tales informed by a post-colonial eco-critical perspective, this paper shows how plant tales can help arouse general interest in plants and the floralrelated narrative experiences as resources for making sense of human dependency on the vegetal beings and as a way initiating a meaningful dialogue about environmental protection from a literary point-of-view. More significantly, the paper uses the same vegetal tales to demonstrate the credibility and richness of the environment-related genuine information, wisdom and worldviews found in the oral literature of the African people in the struggle to combat the on-going global environmental crisis. This realisation negates the long-lived misconception that African literature is mediocre and does not satisfy universal aesthetic standards and sensibilities.


Key words: Sangu people, plant tales, eco-portrayal, human dependency

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