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.
the nuts asked the king to gather everyone together so that he might identify the thief by this cut. Frightened, Orunmila went to the diviners, who doubled the sacrifice. While everyone slept Eshu took one of the knives and cut the palms of everyone, including the unborn children. (It is because of this that people have lines on their palms.) When the owner of the nuts demanded that Orunmila open his hand, Orunmila showed that everyone, including the king himself, had the same scars; and because
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
work also appears in the main anthropological journals in America. 34 e.g. the well-known work of anthropologists like Boas, Benedict, or Reichard (mainly on American Indian peoples), and more recently Herskovits on Africa and elsewhere. See also the general discussion in Greenway 1964. 35 See especially the bibliographic and other survey articles by Bascom, who is probably doing more than any other single scholar at the present to consolidate the subject as a recognized branch of scholarship,
that concern us here, the poets of Senegambia and of the Western Fulani, were so regarded, however. Among the various castes into which society was divided, those of the poets and musicians came near the bottom. They were thus set apart from those to whom they addressed themselves and not unexpectedly met with a somewhat ambiguous attitude among other members of society—at once feared, despised, and influential. Some of these Senegambian griots specialized in shouting praises and reciting
Abono, Grandsire, the mighty pot, saviour of strangers, O, mother, I am struggling; all is not as well with me as it appears. Mother who sends gifts, send me something when someone is coming this way. Mother, there is no fire in the deserted dwelling From which I could take a brand to light my fire. My helpful Wicker Basket that comes to my aid with lumps of salt,5 O, mother, I would weep blood for you, if only Otire’s child would be allowed to. Grandsire, the crab that knows the hiding