Folktale of Kofi and the Lion

Kofi and the Lion (Willis Bocock)

Title: Kofi and the Lion

General Information about Item:

  • Oral folklore, etiological tale
  • Language: English
  • Continent of Origin: Africa
  • Informant: Richard Loftus
  • Date Collected: 2-28-18

Informant Data:

  • Richard Loftus is a 22-year old male who is currently enrolled at Dartmouth and plans to graduate in 2018.  He was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and has lived there his entire life.  At Dartmouth, Richard plays on the Varsity Men’s Lacrosse team, and studies Economics. He plans to work in the financial services industry after graduation.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: Richard does not have an extensive background in music, but was a student in Professor Hafiz Shabazz’s class, “Oral Tradition Musicianship,” where he learned about and first became interested in drumming and percussion. Professor Shabazz’s class focuses on African drumming ulture and style, and includes hands-on playing opportunities.
  • Social Context: While the majority of the class was spent learning how to play the drums and memorizing music, Richie mentioned this etiological tale as one of few cultural anecdotes they learned.


  • Tale Synopsis: One day, a boy named Kofi is walking through the jungle and happens upon a lion beating a powerful drum in the middle of a clearing in the forest. Kofi runs back to his village to tell his elders, but no one believes him, and instead they threaten to banish him for his deceit. In order to regain their trust, he sneaks back to the clearing and quickly steals the drum from the lion before it can stop him. He brings it back to the village where they rejoice in his truthfulness, and from then on Kofi was the original drummer, both in his village and in African drumming culture as well.


  • “So one thing I remember learning about was one story that dealt with the origin of drumming in general. I’m not sure which country or region this came from exactly, but it kind of describes how drumming culture started in Africa. [Gives plot synopsis]

Informant’s Comments:

  • Wished he remembered more cultural anecdotes about drumming stories, but says they rarely mentioned them inclass.

Collector’s Comments:

  • I found this tale to be very reflective of Propp’s Folklore Functions and similar to many of the tales from Russian folklore that we studied in class. This story included Violation, Villainy, Pursuit, and Transformation, among others. It is always neat to see the topics we learned about from Russian culture pop up in another culture.

Collector’s Name: Willis Bocock


  • Etiological tale
  • Folktale
  • Drumming
  • Kofi