Welcome to the special #ownvoices issue of Truancy, curated by guest editors Troy L. Wiggins and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali. Truancy has a bold mission: to publish unconventional, brave, and ambitious retellings of folktales and fairy tales. These retellings or reworkings are encouraged to be anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-hegemonic–it is only by using these positions as a foundation that these works can deeply examine the traditions and myths of people who are not always part of the dominant culture or power structure.
The issue that we have been invited to curate celebrates the folktales and traditional stories of the African Continent and the African Diaspora. Our goals with this issue were to highlight the great variation between folktales and cultural myths across the continental and diasporic African experience. These folktales and myths play a large part in many of these writers’ introductions to the fantastic and speculative fiction. It is extremely important that African continental and diasporic writers preserve their mythological and spiritual traditions while using their own contemporary cultural lenses to examine their world. This volume is our attempt at collecting these examinations.
This work required us to become preservationists of a sort, and over the course of putting together the issue we remembered the concept of Sankofa. Sankofa is a word taken from the Twi language and is a concept that has is roots in the traditions of the Akan people of Ghana. The word Sankofa translates to “go back and get it”, and it is derived from a proverb that, when translated, tells us that “it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” Sankofa’s position as iconography, philosophy, and ideology is settled deeply in the transatlantic Pan-African experience, and it is an ideal that we subscribed to for this issue.
For our small part, we as editors are seeking to preserve the gems of knowledge, wisdom, and legacy in these stories, and to pass them on so that we never forget where we’ve been and where we collectively hope to go in the future. This work and these ideas are especially important given the historical reality of constant global assault on black art, the black body, the black mind, and black sensibility. With this volume, we seek to assert fully and directly that our myths, stories, and folklore exist, and that they matter.
V.H. Galloway’s “There Are Children that Flower the Trees” is a tale set squarely on continent of Africa and is proof that folklore and myth can feel both modern and old, and its lessons about patience and the wealth that only children can bring, are omnipresent. Mame Bougouma Diene’s “A Contest of Farts – The Ballad of Faransoye Biram Ngor” reimagines a Senegalese Wolof folktale from the former Jolof Kingdom of Baol that comes to life in modern day New York City. Diene’s tale deftly balances love, lust, honor, and a fair bit of flatulence in a combination that is both tender and tickling. Eden Royce’s “Soupie’s Lover” takes us south–to the haunts of South Carolina’s rootworkers to be precise. It is here a lowdown Lothario’s two-timing ways set him up to receive a visit from an old and deadly vengeance. And to follow up on this story of lost love is R.S.A. Garcia’s “The Bois,” a beautiful take on the Caribbean mythical figure of Papa Bois, a Trinidadian forest deity. Papa Bois forces a steep price from those who would violate the forests that he protects. In Garcia’s hauntingly written tale, the forest exacts its cost on a couple, but perhaps their love will be enough to cover it.
This issue also features an essay from Zina Hutton titled “Finding My Own Writing Path Amongst Tricksters.” It is an introspective piece that beautifully discusses the complicated relationship that black writers have with their folklore and its relationship to their work. Our cover art for this issue is is titled “Mrembo wa kwetu” – “Our Beautiful Girl From Home.” Salim Busuru, a freelance illustrator and artist based in Nairobi, Kenya, is the artist.
We hope that your journey through these tales reminds you of history and home. We hope that they empower you so that you can carry their wisdom and knowledge into your future. We hope that you enjoy the issue.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Troy L. Wiggins
Guest Editors, Truancy 4
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has fiction published in Strange Horizons, Diabolical Plots, Alphabet of Embers, and Escape Pod. Khaalidah also coedits Podcastle.org where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit fantasy stories. Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth. You can catch her posts at her website, www.khaalidah.com, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.
Troy L. Wiggins is a writer and editor from Memphis, Tennessee. His short fiction and essays have appeared in Griots: Sisters of the Spear, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, Expanded Horizons, and Fireside Fiction Magazine. Troy is Co-Editor of the Fiyah Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. He lives in Memphis with his wife and their two rescue dogs.