Oral Literature in Africa (World Oral Literature)
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Ruth Finnegan's Oral Literature in Africa was first published in 1970, and since then has been widely praised as one of the most important books in its field. Based on years of fieldwork, the study traces the history of storytelling across the continent of Africa. This revised edition makes Finnegan's ground-breaking research available to the next generation of scholars. It includes a new introduction, additional images and an updated bibliography, as well as its original chapters on poetry, prose, "drum language" and drama, and an overview of the social, linguistic and historical background of oral literature in Africa. This book is the first volume in the World Oral Literature Series, an ongoing collaboration between OBP and World Oral Literature Project. A free online archive of recordings and photographs that Finnegan made during her fieldwork in the late 1960s is hosted by the World Oral Literature Project (http://www.oralliterature.org/collections/rfinnegan001.html) and can also be accessed from publisher's website.
plumes in their hair—danced a dance of praise around him. This is the role of! Kung [Bushman] hunters. (Marshall 1965: 235) The romance and excitement associated with hunting is vividly depicted in the Zulu song about a buffalo hunt: Iyeyahe! Iyayayi! A whirlwind! the buffalo! Some leave and go home; Some pursue and obtain; We shoot the rising, But leave the wounded. Iyeyahe (Dhlomo 1947: 6) Perhaps the most common occasion for hunting songs is a successful kill. As in military
meat. He usually receives his gun—the mark of a hunter—from one of his mother’s relations in accordance with the matrilineal inheritance pattern of the Ambo, and, both after his acquisition of the gun and before certain of the hunts, private and joint rituals are carried out to ensure success. A hunter also has a special relationship with the spirit of one of his dead kinsmen, often his father, who guards and guides him as a hunter. The emotional relationship with his father is of a much more
…, etc. Sara looses the bird from the noose, and brings it home to prepare for eating. Again the bird sings: Sara is coming to pluck me, Sara is coming to pluck me. Here he found a path, a night passed, Here he came and put a snare for me, The guinea-fowl, The guinea-fowl, Ko de ba ko nagligbe What is your name? What is your name? Tambarenke, Tambarenke. What is your name? Tambarenke, Tambarenke …. As the story continues, new first lines appear: Sara is coming to cut me up … Sara
have themselves been recorded and presented by collectors who have assumed in advance that these categories have universal and ‘natural’ validity. One simple example of this is the general category of ‘myth.’ In most European cultures, it seems natural to assume a distinction between ‘myths’ (narratives, believed in some sense or other to be true, and concerned with the origins of things or the activities of deities) and ‘folktales’ or ordinary stories (fictional narratives, taken much less
honour. This character is Oyibo the White Man. (Jones 1945: 193) The importance of miming and even satire is brought out by another writer on Ibo masquerades (Boston 1960). In northern Iboland it is apparently the dramatic element that has been developed at the expense of the religious. But even here the element of plot is very undeveloped indeed compared to the emphasis on music and dancing. Boston expresses clearly the Ibo order of priorities when he writes: Each type of masquerade has a