cover image Sebgugugu the Glutton: A Bantu Tale from Rwanda

Sebgugugu the Glutton: A Bantu Tale from Rwanda

Verna Aardema. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5073-7

In this lackluster retelling of an African tribal legend, a poor man who ``never listened to his wife'' follows his greed and leads his family to near starvation not once, but four times. Despite Sebgugugu's complacent impenitence, the patient Imana, Lord of Rwanda, repeatedly answers his prayers until one final indulgence of unchecked gluttony condemns him to ruin. While the Bantu family of languages permeates many South, Central and East African tribes (two in Rwanda), the text provides no specific information that might orient readers to a particular culture. (The few details supplied could mislead--no Rwandan woman, for example, would carry an infant in a basket on her head.) Except for the illustrations and names, the broadly told fable might have emanated from almost any culture. Unfortunately, the jarring palette of Clouse's silkscreen pictures evokes none of the distinctive topography of Rwandan agricultural landscape. Still, disappointing language and illustrations notwithstanding, the story itself may satisfy as a fable with a basic universal message. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)