The 40 legends, fairy tales and folklore stories in this book belong to the Yoruba. They relate the adventures of men and animals, and try to explain the mysteries of Nature—Why Women have Long Hair, How the Leopard got his Spots, the Three Magicians, the Boa-Constrictor, How the Elephant got his Trunk and more. These stories grew from the imagination of the people. We read these folk-tales for their quaintness and humour, for their sympathy with Nature, and because we find in them the ideas and ideals, not just of one man, but of a race of people.
The legends express primitive notions of right and wrong. As a rule, the wicked are punished and the good rewarded; and that, we feel, is as it should be. We may weep at the death of rascally Tortoise, but we may also feel that he somehow deserves his fate!