By Nandi Taylor
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Release Date: January 21st 2020
Dragon Folklore from the African Continent
In the world of Given there is a lot of mythology around Dragons. In the empire of Cresh and the surrounding nations a certain segment of the population known as “dragonkind” have the ability to shift into dragon form. Sadly there are no dragonkind among the Island tribes, as they were targeted for extermination during the colonial war 300 years ago. But the legends of the Island dragons remain.
I have a ton of rich folklore to draw on for the Island dragons. They would likely look something like the fearsome grootslang of South African mythology, partially because I love saying that word, “grootslang.” The story goes that the grootslang is a giant snake with the head of an elephant. So far so good, right? The grootslang was a bit too powerful for its own good so the gods hunted them all down and split them into two animals, the elephant and the snake. But one escaped and now lives in a cave full of diamonds.
Many of the dragon-like creatures of African legends favor serpents or crocodiles. Take the ninki nanka (another great name!) The legends about this one mostly come out of West Africa, Gambia in particular. This monster lives in swamps, and there are a few different descriptions of the Ninki Nanka. Some say it has a horse’s head, a giraffe’s neck and a crocodile’s body, but I prefer the stories that describe it as a long, reptilian creature. They’re supposed to be huge, over 30 ft in length. Furthermore, if you’re (un)lucky enough to spot one you might even fall ill and die!
But my favorite is the legend of Aido-Hwedo, a giant rainbow serpent referenced in folklore coming out of Benin and Haiti. How giant, you ask? Big enough to surround the entire world, keeping everything snugly in place and then coil underneath it. According to the creation stories of the Fon people of Benin, Aido-Hwedo was the ferry of the creator, carrying her from place to place as she built the world.
As you can see, I have many fantastical stories to draw inspiration from, and all this is only a brief glimpse into the monstrous and magical folklore surrounding dragons on the African Continent.