Orature is a living tradition precisely because orality, its base, is always at the cutting edge of the new and the experimental in word and experience.” (Ngugi wa Thiog’o. Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. Columbia University Press, 2012, p.83.)
26th of Aprill, 2023
After our first session of getting to know each other, we finally dipped our toes into the topics orality, performance and literature.
Obviously, the first question that occurred was ‘What is orality?’. In order to answer this question, we put our focus on the African continent, specifically East Africa, Somalia. We learned that it is common and preferred in Somalia to distribute and share information orally, from person to person. People are more comfortable to hear information rather than reading it. This also has an effect on how they learn. A big part of the learning process happens through conversation and participation. This tradition of orality has often been falsely perceived as primitive by Western society. Luckily, this perception experiences a transformation as western scholars nowadays acknowledge the historical, cultural and social richness of orality and orature.
As we lay our focus on folktales in our seminar, we continued with discussing some aspects of storytelling. For instance, the fact that not every individual is skilled in telling stories, singing, playing the drums or dancing. This is why oftentimes more than one person is involved in telling and performing the story, which causes a uniqueness every time the story is told and performed. Hence, in contrast to literature it is bound to the present and can never truly be captured by written text only.
Finally, we touched upon Postcolonialism and the influence of Colonial languages on Indigenous languages. As many African societies did not have a significant literary tradition, many languages did / do not have their own script . Therefore, these languages currently use the Latin alphabet even though this oftentimes does not capture all qualities of the Indigenous language. Additionally, at present it is common that speakers are more proficient in the Colonial language than the Indigenous language.
As can be seen on this Moroccan sign, Colonial languages are predominant. But efforts to preserve Tamazight, a language indigenous to North Africa, with the help of the Tifinagh alphabet, are being made.
Preserving a language and stories ? This brings us back to the topic. Over the course of this semester, with the help of modern day technology, we will try to help preserve folktales from Ghana. I am looking forward to learn more about the Konkomba, an ethnic group in Ghana, and the technological methods we will use to secure their folktales.