Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature

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Overview

African oral literature, like other forms of popular culture, is not merely folksy, domestic entertainment but a domain in which individuals in a variety of social roles are free to comment on power relations in society. It can also be a significant agent of change capable of directing, provoking, preventing, overturning and recasting perceptions of social reality. This collection examines the way in which oral texts both reflect and affect contemporary social and political life in Africa. It addresses questions of power, gender, the dynamics of language use, the representation of social structures and the relation between culture and the state. The contributors are linguists, anthropologists, folklorists, ethnomusicologists and historians, who present fresh material and ideas to paint a lively picture of current real life situations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521087940
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/11/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of contributors
Preface
Note on transcription
1 Introduction: power, marginality and oral literature 1
2 Oral art and contemporary cultural nationalism 23
3 The letter and the law: the politics of orality and literacy in the chiefdoms of the northern Transvaal 35
4 A king is not above insult: the politics of good governance in Nzema avudwene festival songs 47
5 Igbo enwe eze: monarchical power versus democratic values in Igbo oral narratives 65
6 Tales and ideology: the revolt of sons in Bambara-Malinke tales 83
7 Images of the powerful in Lyela folktales 92
8 Power, marginality and Somali oral poetry: case studies in the dynamics of tradition 111
9 The function of oral art in the regulation of social power in Dyula society 122
10 The power of words and the relation between Hausa genres 130
11 Sexuality and socialisation in Shona praises and lyrics 147
12 Nontsizi Mgqwetho: stranger in town 162
13 Clashes of interest: gender, status and power in Zulu praise poetry 185
14 Jelimusow: the superwomen of Malian music 197
15 Power and the circuit of formal talk 211
16 Praise splits the subject of speech: constructions of kingship in the Manden and Borgu 225
17 Beyond the communal warmth: the poet as loner in Ewe oral tradition 244
Bibliography 260
Index 277
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