Foundations In Southern African Oral Literature by Russell H. Kaschula
Wits University Press (January 27, 1994)
Soft Cover, 400 pages
A collection of papers, reprinted from "Bantu Studies" and "African Studies", offers textual material and analyses of oral literature from southern Africa. The three issues of text, genre and interpretation receive equal attention within the volume. The editor's intention is to provide readers with an opportunity to explore various literary genres produced in southern African communities - through texts and through scholarly analysis. The transformation of literary genres is also addressed, emphasizing the ways in which oral performance is shaped by social forces. The manipulation of language and oral art forms for political gain is not new. the volume is thematically organized into five sections: oral literature and society; praise poetry; songs; folktales and wisdom lore; and riddles. In each case, articles have been selected to reveal the historical and comparative bases of oral literary studies. The collection is prefaced by a critical introduction in which the editor points to new directions in the analysis of oral literature and the need for a broader contextualization of southern African studies. The collection of essays provides the groundwork for further exploratory studies across cultures and genres, not only in Africa, but in the world at large. At the same time, oral literature, and more specifically African oral literature, needs to be liberated in order to interact with other scholarly disciplines. Quite clearly, many changes have taken place in African oral traditions since the original writings of the essays in this volume. It is these very changes which provide research material for scholars in oral studies. At the same time, all students of the discipline must look at these seminal studies in order to appreciate the traditional bases of oral performance today.