Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Thomas recorded numerous stories folktale best man

In the early twentieth century, anthropology and folklore studies were closely related. Prior to his appointment as Government Anthropologist in 1909, Northcote Thomas served on the Royal Anthropological Institute and Folklore Society Councils. Folklorists, in particular, documented traditional stories and songs, and Thomas had edited several of these collections. During his anthropological explorations in Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Thomas recorded numerous stories on wax cylinder phonographs.

Many of these were transcribed and published in his Anthropological Reports as well as articles in Man. Aside from viewing these as examples of ‘native texts’ (albeit, of fact, they were not ‘texts’ but oral


The recordings, however, are difficult to listen to, and Thomas’ transcriptions and translations contain numerous errors and contradictions. The potential for future research is enormous. To demonstrate, the [Re:]

Entanglements project collaborated with Yvonne Mbanefo of the Igbo Studies Initiative and Ugonna Umeike of the Department of Fine and Applied Art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to bring some of the stories to life. Yvonne has transformed some of the stories into contemporary Standard Igbo, re-recorded and translated them, and Ugonna has illustrated the stories, drawing off Northcote Thomas’ images for