Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: John Steptoe


The past few weeks I have not found time to blog. Rather I was all tied up with work and the one passion that keeps me going -reading. I managed to read a few books and the one that stood out from all is “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters”. Its an African folktale, but the essence is relevant even in today’s time.

This African tale evokes the Cinderella story, as well as the traditional theme of good triumphing over evil.

Plot: Mufaro has two daughters, the bad-tempered Manyara and the loving Nyasha, who must pass a series of tests in order for one of them to be considered a beautiful and worthy wife for the Great King. Fiercely competitive, Manyara taunts Nyasha with threats of becoming a servant once Manyara is made Queen. Nyasha doesn’t complain to her father about her sister’s ill will, but merely tends to her garden where she befriends a little garden snake, Nyoka. Nyoka replaces the traditional fairy godmother, and is able to transform into a hungry lost boy and an old woman. As Manyara and Nyasha journey to meet with the Great King, they are each tested by Nyoka in his various disguises. Not surprisingly, Manyara’s responses are selfish and bitter, while Nyasha’s are polite and thoughtful. In a surprise ending, Nyoka is revealed to be the Great King himself.

What made the book so endearing were the illustrations. The illustrations are simply stunning that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors. The lush paintings compliment the story as they expand characterizations and setting, add depth to the text, and glow with the warmth of the land and people of Africa.

The inspiration for the story was the African folktale , but John Steptoe has recreated it in to a modern fable of pride going before a fall, kindness rewards. The book has the capacity to enthrall and captivate anyone with the beautiful paintings that go in tandem with the story. I recommend it to everyone.


For those who wish to hear the story here it is :

Happy watching !

Published by avid reader

Words do not describe a person. I am many things and yet nothing. I am an avid reader, reading her way through the pages of life. Some stories warm the heart and yet others have let me dry. I am a result of my life, and yet my life is part a result of me. Don't try to figure me.

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