This book delivers an admirably comprehensive and rigorous analysis of African oral literatures and performance.
Gathering insights from distinguished scholars in the field, the book provides a range of contemporary interdisciplinary perspectives in the study of oral literature and its transformations in everyday life, fiction, poetry, popular culture, and postcolonial politics. Topics discussed include folklore and folklife; oral performance and masculinities; intermediated orality, modern transformations, and globalisation; orality and mass media; spoken word and imaginative writing. The book also addresses research methodologies and the thematic and theoretical trajectories of scholars of African oral literatures, looking back to the trailblazing legacies of Ruth Finnegan, Harold Scheub, and Isidore Okpewho.
Ambitious in scope and incisive in its analysis, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of African literatures and oral performance as well as to general readers interested in the dynamics of cultural production.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Heritage of African Oral Literary Performance Studies
Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma
Part I: Recapturing Tradition: The Oral Performance in Transition
- Elfrieda Binga’s "Berseba": Constructing History and Identity in a Rural Namibian Village
- "The Crocodile’s Wife": Content and Communication Strategy in A Tale of Transformations
- 'The aged, the infirm and the effeminate': Rhetorical Strategies in Election Rally Songs from Nigeria and Lesotho
- Orality, Masculinities and Narrative Strategies in The Arabian Nights
- Translation of African Oral Narrative-performances to the Written Word
- Asiyefunzwa na Wazazi na Mzuka Swahili Supernatural Homiletics in an Age of Promiscuity
- History, Mofolo's Chaka, and the Postcolonial "Bastard"
- Globalisation of Sango: Wole Soyinka’s Adaptation of Oedipus at Colonus
- African Verbal Arts Online: Intermediality and "Technauriture"
- Writer-Reader Interaction in Newspaper Serial Writing in Tanzania: The Transformation of an Oral Storytelling Mode
- The Manipulation of Verbal Folklore Genres in Mass Media Communication
- Go Fetisa Lekoalo/Beyond Literature: Orality, Poetry and Music in Post-apartheid Spoken Word Poetry
- Isidore Okpewho – An Intellectual Portrait
- In Praise of Counter-Hegemony: Isidore Okpewho and the Alternative Discourse in African (Oral) Literature
- Isidore Okpewho: Scholarship, Imaginative Writing, and the Assertion of the African Sensibility
- Choosing Two Sides Equally: An Interview with Isidore Okpewho
Ernst R. Wendland
Part II: The Word Made Flesh: Intermediated Orality and Modern Transformations
Part III: Orality at Crossroads: Folklife, Modernity, and Globalisation
Rosaleen O. B. Nhlekisana
Part IV: The Scholar as Artist: Isidore Okpewho and African Oral Performance Studies
F. Abiola Irele
James Tar Tsaaior
Nduka Otiono is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Supervisor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University. He is the author and co-editor of several books of creative writing and academic research including Polyvocal Bob Dylan: Music, Performance, Literature (2019) and Wreaths for a Wayfarer (2020).
Chiji Akọma is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Literatures with joint appointments in the Department of English and the Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University. He is the author Folklore in New World Black Fiction: Writing and the Oral Traditional Aesthetics (2007).
"Of impeccable scholarship, this readable and thoroughly up-to-date book is an important contribution to the field."
Ruth Finnegan, OBE FBA FAFS FRAI, Emeritus Professor at The Open University, United Kingdom
"Vital and deeply engaging, this book brings to date 50 years of scholarship in African oral literature and performance, presenting with fresh eyes key issues, debates, and developments in the field. Otiono and Akọma offer a rich platter of exciting studies which every lover of African oral arts, teacher or student, would be happy to dip into to taste its varied intellectual delights. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding African oral literary performance from traditional perspectives to its intermedial transformations in the global digital moment. It honors and continues the intellectual legacy of my former colleague Isidore Okpewho and his amazing breakthrough scholarship on African oral literature."
Carole Boyce-Davies, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Cornell University, USA, and Former President of the African Literature Association
"Reading Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text, edited by Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma, one is impressed by the comprehensive nature of the contributions from some of the most important oral performance scholars. This is a robust addition to the literature on African oral literary performance and takes its place alongside the best works of Ruth Finnegan and Isidore Okpewho. Simply, intensely historical and artistic; a job well done!"
Molefi Kete Asante, author of An Afrocentric Manifesto and Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, USA
"The publication of Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text, edited by Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma marks a seminal moment in the project of rethinking Africa and African knowledge in the 21st century. With its eminent range of contributors, its interdisciplinary approach, and its keen attentiveness to the dynamic relation between oral literary performance and everyday life, this collection fills a crucial and indispensable gap in African literary and cultural history. The book returns us to forgotten moments of literary expression in Africa and shifts the center of our debates and reflections on the nature and meaning of the literary."
Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English, Princeton University, USA
"In this book, Nduka Otiono and Chiji Akọma curate some of the major scholars, themes, and highlights of Africa’s fascinating oral literary performance tradition. Beyond the engaging thematic focus and scholarship, the book celebrates the exemplary work of the doyens of the study of African oral literature—chiefly, our departed dear colleague, Isidore Okpewho, to whom the book is dedicated. The essays in this collection invoke with reverence, Africa’s past oral performance heritage, summon its complex present, and shine light on its future trajectory. A remarkable achievement."
Mbye B. Cham, Professor and former Director of the Center for African Studies, Howard University, USA
"This is a most relevant book on orality and the modern electronic age, a compendium of great authors, exceptional research and methodological lessons. It is a great source for those who seek to update their knowledge on African oral performance studies in the global century."
Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, author of African Discourse in Islam, Oral Traditions, and Performance, and Vice-Chancellor of University of Abuja, Nigeria
"Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text presents dynamic and innovative discussion on oral literary nomenclature. This is skilfully done against the backdrop of how ‘orality’ manages to interact with globalisation, modernity, transition and transformation, as reflected in the four sections of the book . . . This collection of essays on African oral literatures and performance is ground-breaking and unique. It belongs in every library. It is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in African oral literature and its conceptualisation—from past to present."
Russell H Kaschula, Senior Professor, African Language Studies Department, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
"Scholars of African oral literature and performance on both sides of the Atlantic will find in Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text manifestations of unimpeachable legacies of their mentors and founding fathers. For half a century, African Literature has been waiting for this book!"
Ernest N. Emenyonu, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies, University of Michigan-Flint, USA; Editor, African Literature Today