Power, Marginality and African Oral Literature

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $41.05
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 8%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (6) from $41.05   
  • New (3) from $41.05   
  • Used (3) from $65.51   


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.
Read More Show Less

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
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
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)