Preserving Oral Tradition in African Writing

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Oral Tradition in African Literature

From the African Library of Critical Writing

Available from African Books Collective

While much has been studied by literary scholars of the oral repertoire and its significance for modern writing, attempts to maintain a unidirectional study of African oral craft have not yielded the desired coherent and contemporaneous applications of orality to literature.

Ironically, the study of oral literature as a genre, existing on its terms, structures and formulae, has only tended to retract with readers who place the traditional in pristine isolation from contemporary literary developments.

Even more regrettable is how oral studies (orature) have waned in the syllabi of many African universities where the written seems to eclipse the oral space.

The editors of the Library of African Writing, here in ‘Oral Tradition’, avow their commitment to intensive study in oral traditional literature as the basis for authentic modern African literature. 

Theirs reflects a consistency that is borne from the awareness that African verbal arts still survive in the works of discerning writers, with the conscious exploration of its tropes, perspectives, philosophy and consciousness, it’s complementary realism and ontology, all toward the delineation of authentic African response to memory, history and such possible confrontations with existence.

Much of these can be witnessed in current analyses of the African novel in this illuminating edition.

The studies here are multifaceted in their theories of orality; they discuss and deconstruct notions of history, truth claims, identity creations, genealogy (cultural and genetic) and also gendered ideologies. 

They mark the prelude to continued evaluation of African indigenous heritage.

Available from African Books Collective

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