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Jamilla and the Tiger
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  Jamilla and the Tiger is a traditional African folk tale, adapted from a performance by Rene' Llewellyn, Storyteller.  Items in parenthesis are instructions for audience participation, especially by children, utilizing rhythm instruments to create sound effects.
This version was written by Ruth Keyes, for use as a component in a Multi-Cultural Diversity based curriculum. Elements represented  in this version present and promote positive role models in the areas of age, gender, and culture. The sound effects and oral performance are also  designed  to provide an aural experience for vision impaired students. In addition, the written version, the colorful costume, and the animated presentation  and lip motions of the Storyteller combine with   the  vibrations  and motions of shakers, rainsticks and other  instruments to provide a participatory experience for students who are hearing impaired.  The inclusion of individuals trained in ASL (American Sign Language) brought a wonderful addition to to presentation.  For reference, the Storyteller's  portion of the curriculum is included below. Ruth Keyes created, performed and implemented this version of the story and the accompanying original curriculum in 2007.


 Jamilla and the Tiger



Once upon a far away time, in a village in the heart of a great jungle, there lived a young girl named Jamilla.  Jamilla was very happy growing up in the village. The people of the village loved to dance, and play music, and would often dance with bells on their feet, laughing and playing music long into the night (tambourines). But the people of the village had a terrible problem. You see my children; in the jungle surrounding the village there lived a great Tiger.  And every week, when the rain would fall (rain sticks), and the people would hear thunder-in-the-sky (drums) the Tiger would come to the village in search of something to eat. First they would hear him running through the pebbles (shakers). Then they would hear him running through the dry sticks (rhythm sticks) and all the people would lock themselves inside their houses, because they were very afraid. Finally, the men of the village said to each other “We must capture this terrible Tiger!” and so off they went into the jungle, walking through the dry sticks (rhythm sticks), running through the  pebbles (shakers) and listening for the sounds of the Tiger.  Now Jamilla did not go with the men into the jungle to search for the Tiger. She stayed home with her Mother and Grandmother and the women and the children in the Village. The women and the children were very busy that day, working in the fields and the farms, the homes and the houses. They listened for the sound of the Men returning to the village, but all they could hear was the sound of the rain (rain sticks) and the thunder-in-the-sky.  Around the middle of the afternoon, Jamilla went down to the edge of the river to gather slender reeds to make a basket. While she crouched next to the sparkling water, her sharp ears suddenly heard a sound. Can you guess what she heard? She heard the sound of great big Tiger paws, running through the pebbles (shakers). She heard the sound of great big Tiger paws running through the dry sticks (rhythm sticks), and so she flew to her feet and ran back to the village as fast as she could go, to tell the others that Tiger was coming. Everyone was very frightened and did not know what to do, but Jamilla was a clever girl, and she had a clever plan. All the women and all the children went back into their houses and  gathered up their wooden spoons and broomsticks. They gathered up their iron pots and pans, they gathered up their jingling bells and their rhythm sticks and shakers… and they crept to the very edge of the jungle, and they waited.  Pretty soon, they heard the Tiger running through the pebbles (shakers). Then they heard him running through the dry sticks (rhythm sticks). The women and the children were very afraid, but they were also very brave, and they stayed where they were, hidden in the vines at the edge of the great jungle… until they saw the Tiger. Then the Women and children made a terrible noise! They banged their pots and pans together! They hit their sticks and shook their shakers and  the sky added thunder to the noise (drums). The Tiger was so frightened by the noise that he didn’t know what to do! So he turned his stripy tail and ran away, and was never seen or heard from in the village again. When the men returned from their fruitless hunt, the Women told them  the story of wise Jamilla and the Tiger, and the villagers all  honored her, and held a great feast in celebration. As you may guess, the people of the village danced with bells on their feet, laughing and playing music long into the night (tambourines).

Introductions / Presentation  Script


Today we are going to talk about several traditions! A tradition is something that has been done for a long time in a certain way, and is handed down year after year in families or cultures or communities.


We are going to hear a traditional African folk tale, and we are going to be using instruments to add sounds to our story. Each of you will get a chance to participate, and together we will make  the story even better. In the folk tradition, stories and songs are often not written down at all, but are told and sung from one person to the next, so they are never forgotten. This is called the Oral tradition, because oral means "spoken".


Before we start our story though, we are going to learn a little bit about the instruments we will be using. Remember last week when we created rhythm instruments in our music class? Today we are going to to learn a little more about the instruments we created.


(Optional power point / Instruments)


In our story we will have to listen closely for the words that will tell us it is our turn to play our instrument. 


Please raise your hand if you are going to be playing a  rain stick?  You will use your rain stick when you hear the word "Rain". Let's try that. "Rain"


Please raise your hand if you are going to be playing a  shaker?  You will use your shaker when you hear the word "pebbles".  Let's try that. "Pebbles"


Please raise your hand if you are going to be playing a  a drum?  You will use your drum when you hear the word "thunder". Let's try that. "Thunder"


Please raise your hand if you are going to be playing a  rhythm stick?  You will use your rhythm stick when you hear the word "sticks". Let's try that. "Sticks"


Please raise your hand if you are going to be playing a  tambourine?  You will use your tambourine when you hear the word "bells".   Let's try that. "Bells"


Very Good!     Now, let's begin our story!!


Additional Information and Resources:


Music and musical instruments are an extremely important part of human history. The use of rhythm and song has long been used to express meaning, and feeling and accompany rituals. Here are some interesting websites you might enjoy exploring at your local library. Your librarian can also help you choose books relating to folktales, music, storytelling and the oral tradition.  Some suggestions might be Her Stories (African American Folktales, Fairy Tales and True Tales) by Virginia Hamilton,  “Sing Out”, edited by Pete Seeger, and The World’s Best Fairy Tales , edited by Belle Becker Sideman. Enjoy!



(Rain Sticks)


Rain sticks have been around since ancient times. They are musical and ceremonial instruments that give a calming, peaceful and nurturing sound.





Drums have had a place in almost all cultures around the globe. In African cultures the drums were very important in the use of rituals and ceremonies. Some tribes relied on drums to express themselves.




Shakers, also known as Maracas, may have originated in ancient civilizations as long ago as the Stone Age. As well as the drums in Africa, maracas were used in ceremonies. In South America maracas connected music and magic because doctors used maracas as symbols of mystical beings. The doctors shook the maracas to summon the spirits for help.




The tambourine can be traced back to ancient civilization in India, Greece, China, Egypt, and Rome. The tambourine is often associated with joy, dancing, victory, and times of happiness.



(Rhythm sticks)



Rhythm sticks are also known as claves. Rhythm sticks are widely used in Latin America, and most popular in Cuba. They are a pair of wood sticks that are hit together to get a proper rhythm.


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