Oral Tradition and Sundiata

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Oral Tradition & Sundiata African oral tradition is rich with history, virtues, and civic influence. Within the umbrella term of “oral tradition”, there exist songs, folktales, myths, praise poetry, and legend. Each have their own unique purpose and can be seen in most societies. Oral tradition is knowledge passed down through the spoken word. Oral tradition is complex, highly stylized, and carries a political and social value. African oral tradition, or “orature”, is said to mean “the artistic use of language in oral performance” (Mphande). This can be seen through songs that fulfill a deep-rooted tradition while creating interactions with the audience and performer. One example shown in class was called kayuni, or small bird. The singer was calling for the audience to come see the small bird that moved many ways. Folktales (or fables) are stories with virtuous meanings attached to them. One example of a fable is the story “The Gentleman of the Jungle”. This story explores historical significance as an allegory for European imperialism, and basic virtues of honor and overcoming corruption. Myths are an unquestioned belief. These stories have no evidence but are believed to be true by certain societies or individuals. This can be seen as classical mythology in Greek Society, or the animal storytellers in African societies. One specific example is the character Fudukazi (tortoise). Praise poetry is used to honor an individual of their achievements. There are professional narrators for praise poetry, and their job is to encompass the whole person in detail (mostly in a positive light). They are the only ones that can critique a person of higher power than them and not be punished. In class, we saw a clip of a Nelson Mandela receiving a praise poem from a student. The student, in detail, thanked Mandela for his time as president, and expressed hesitation for

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