Uses of oral tradition in writing african history

Others insisted that even if there were events of a historical nature, such a history was unknown and unknowable, since African societies, for the most part, were nonliterate and as such left no records that historians could study. The era of decolonization and the immediate post-independence years witnessed a growing rank of Africanists vigorously reject this Eurocentric and anti-African historical epistemology that privileged civilization and written sources as the only rational bases for historical scholarship and that denied the possibility of civilization and history to small-scale and nonliterate societies dominant in Africa.

Uses of oral tradition in writing african history

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By Sharon Wilson Chicago, IL In African societies, oral tradition is the method in which history, stories, folktales and religious beliefs are passed on from generation to generation.

Webster's dictionary defines "oral" as, "spoken rather than written," and it defines the word "tradition" as, "transmittal of elements of a culture from one generation to another especially by oral communication.

Most African societies place great worth in oral tradition because it is a primary means of conveying culture. It is also a mode of transmitting feelings, and attitudes. For centuries, African people depended upon oral tradition to teach the listener's important traditional values and morals pertaining to how to live.

Oral tradition delivers explanations to the mysteries of the universe and the meaning of life on earth. In African religion, it is the guiding principle in which to make sense of the world.

Oral tradition is non-written history, it is spoken word only. Historically, most African societies did not have an invented alphabet. African scholar and writer, John S. Most African people did not invent an alphabet for the art of reading and writing. Therefore they could not keep written records of their history.

Instead they passed on information form one generation to another, by word of mouth. Africans have been primarily vocal people throughout their history. Language is regarded as a powerful force. Although there are many ethnic languages that coexist in Africa, researchers say there may be as many asAfrican stories and folklore were communicated across different regions.

AfricaBib | The Uses of Oral Traditions in the Writing of African History

Oral tradition relies on the human voice to communicate varied messages. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku explains: Voice was the vehicle in which knowledge was passed on from one generation to another.

Voice unified a family, clan, or community. Enforcement of customs depended on voice. When a person died Music plays an important role in African societies. According to Mbiti, "Africans are very fond of music. Therefore music, dance and singing are found in every community.

Combined with oral tradition and dance, a visual art form is created for the message being communicated. The most important musical instrument of Africa is the drum.

uses of oral tradition in writing african history

It has been said that no one knows how the drum came into being or how the first drum looked or sounded.

Drums accompany different forms of communication, including storytelling, singing, and dancing.

uses of oral tradition in writing african history

Drums are made in different sizes and shapes for different purposes. We also find many kinds of musical instruments, the commonest being the drum.

There are drums of many shapes, sizes, and purposes. Some drums are used only in connection with kings and chiefs: There are war drums, talking drums, ceremonial drums, and so on.

In African religion the drum is considered sacred. It is used to send and receive spiritual messages. Because the drum is sacred, the drummer must be skilled as an oral communicator, and skilled at the art of drumming. Precise rhythms are connected with religious ceremony and ritual as well as entertainment.

For the African the drum is sacred. Created by god-like humans, and the drummer is a speaker and communicator of the sacred fixed text Just as the poet uses his voice to entertain people, so the drummer uses the drum to entertain.

The drummer therefore must not be regarded as a technician alone; he is an artist in his own right. Even if the texts are fixed and unchanging, he still has to learn the words and acquire the special art of drumming.

If he is not a good artist, the message cannot be reproduced fully. In addition, on the issue of the language of the drum being fixed, it was observed that while there may be some sets of phrases, proverbs, and wise sayings that form the drummer's repertoire, the drummer is free to improvise in-between in order to make his message fit the particular occasion.Oral tradition is information passed down through the generations by word of mouth that is not written down.

Some examples of oral tradition make this form of history easier to understand. This includes historical and cultural traditions, literature and law. Much of the oral tradition of African cultures has been lost, and as African languages are in the process of dying each year, the traditions are gone forever.

But some collections of these traditions exist, of which the finest are included in this section. In African societies, oral tradition is the method in which history, stories, folktales and religious beliefs are passed on from generation to generation.

Webster's dictionary defines "oral" as, "spoken rather than written," and it defines the word "tradition" as, "transmittal of elements of a culture from one generation to another especially.

Transitional Phases in the Form and Function of the Book before Gutenberg

Oral tradition is also distinct from the study of orality defined as thought and its verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to . Montell uses oral sources and folklore to reconstruct the history of a small African-American community in Kentucky.

The book provides a permanent record of a vanished town, and it is an important foundation for contemporary interest in . This is a groundbreaking book about the history and principles of Ethiopic (Ge'ez), an African writing system designed as a meaningful and graphic representation of a wide array of knowledge, including languages.

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