Oral Literature in Africa
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I have many thanks to express. All the editors of the ‘Oxford Library of African Literature’, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, R. G. Lienhardt and Wilfred Whiteley, have helped me in many ways; in particular Wilfred Whiteley has worked through the whole book and made many helpful suggestions and criticisms; his serial letters on the subject over several months were a highlight of 1967–78 and I am more grateful to him than I can say. The following have also read and commented on parts of the book: Dr. G. Innes, Mr. D. K. Rycroft and Mrs. Agnes Finnegan. I have greatly appreciated and profited from their advice (even where I have not taken all of it). I have also had a number of most helpful discussions with Mr. Robin Horton and with my husband, Dr. David Murray. I have obviously used the writings of a great number of people, but would like to mention in particular the stimulus I have received from work by Bascom, Berry, Bowra, Babalola, and, above all, Nketia; I have not always agreed with them or even referred much directly to their work, but have constantly found them illuminating. Finally, the dedication is a serious one. Anything that is of interest in this book is ultimately due to the many people over many years who have taught me—and I do not mean only those who have taught me about Africa or about anthropology.

I would also like to thank the staff of libraries where I have collected the material used here: especially the library of the (then) University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (in particular for allowing me access to the Doke Collection of works on Bantu studies); the library of the University of Ibadan (especially the Africana and reference librarians); and the library of the Institute of Social Anthropology, Oxford. I am also most grateful to the Institute of African Studies, Ibadan, for a grant towards the cost of obtaining photocopies of articles not locally available.

I would like to thank the following authors and publishers for permission to quote from the published works mentioned:

Mr. Wande Abimbola (The Odu of Ifa, African Notes 1, 3, 1964).

Oba Adetoyese Laoye I, The Timi of Ede (The orikis of 13 of the Timis of Ede, 1965).

Dr. Ethel M. Albert and the American Anthropological Association (‘Rhetoric’, ‘logic’, and ‘poetics’ in Burundi, reproduced by permission of the American Anthropological Association from the American Anthropologist, vol. 66, no. 6, Pt. 2 (1964), pp. 35–54).

Professor R. G. Armstrong (Talking drums in the Benue-Cross River region of Nigeria, Phylon 15, 1954).

Professor William Bascom (The sanctions of Ifa divination, JRAI 71, 1941; The forms of folklore: prose narratives, JAF 78, 1965).

Professor Robin Horton and the International African Institute (The Kalahari Ekine society: a borderland of religion and art, Africa 33, 1963).

Abbé Alexis Kagame (La poésie dynastique au Rwanda, Institut royal colonial beige, Mem. 22, 1, 1951).

Professor E. J. Krige and Shuter and Shooter (Pty.) Ltd. (The social system of the Zulus, 1936).

Mr. L. S. B. Leakey and Methuen & Company Ltd. (Defeating Mau Mau, 1954).

Mbari publications (B. Gbadamosi and U. Beier, Yoruba poetry, 1959;
H. Owuor, Luo songs, Black Orpheus 19, 1961).

Professor J. H. Nketia (Funeral dirges of the Akan people, 1955; Akan poetry, Black Orpheus 3, 1958; Drum proverbs, Voices of Ghana, Accra, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1958; African music in Ghana, 1962; Drumming in Akan communities of Ghana, 1963).

Professor Willard Rhodes (Music as an agent of political expression, African studies bulletin 5, 2, 1962).

Professor M. G. Smith and the International African Institute (The social functions and meaning of Hausa praise-singing, Africa 27, 1957).

Father F. Theuws (Textes Luba, Bulletin du centre d’étude des problèmes sociaux indigenes (C.E.P.S.I.) 27, 1954).

Dr. Hugh Tracey (‘Lalela Zulu’, 100 Zulu lyrics, 1948).

Professor A. N. Tucker (Children’s games and songs in the Southern Sudan, JRAI 63, 1933).

M. Pierre Verger (Notes sur le culte des Orisa, Mem. IFAN 51, 1957).

Witwatersrand University Press (extracts from the following articles in Bantu studies and African studies on the pages mentioned: E. W. Grant, The Izibongo of the Zulu chiefs, Bantu studies 13, 1927–9, pp. 211–3, 227; S. K. Lekgothoane, Praises of animals in Northern Sotho, Bantu studies 12, 1938, pp. 193–5; P. A. W. Cook, History and Izibongo of the Swazi chiefs, Bantu studies 5, 1931, p. 193; F. Laydevant, The praises of the divining bones among the Basotho, Bantu studies 7, 1933, pp. 349–50, 361, 369–70, 371; M. Read, Songs of the Ngoni people, Bantu studies 11, 1937, pp. 14–15, 16, 25, 30; B. Stefaniszyn, The hunting songs of the Ambo, African studies 10, 1951, pp. 4, 6, 7, 9, 11; C. Cagnolo, Kikuyu tales, African studies 11, 1952, pp. 128–9; 12, 1953, pp. 129–30).

‘West Africa’, Orbit House, London, E.C. 4 (R. Schachter, French Guinea’s R.D.A. folk songs, West African review 29, 1958).

I am also indebted to the Delegates of the Oxford University Press to quote from works published in the ‘Oxford Library of African Literature’, and from L. Harries, Swahili poetry, 1962; R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, 1923;
R. S. Fletcher, Hausa sayings and folk-lore, 1912; N. Njururi, Agikuyu folk tales, 1966; H. Tracey, Chopi musicians, 1948.

I am also most grateful to the following for permission to quote from various unpublished sources:

The Library, University College of Rhodesia (manuscripts in the Doke Collection).

Mr. David Rycroft (personal communication quoted in Chapter 5).

University of the Witwatersrand (S. M. Mofokeng, ‘Notes and annotations of the praise-poems of certain chiefs and the structure of the praise-poems in Southern Sotho’, unpub. honours thesis, 1945).

Acknowledgements: Addendum 2011

A slightly abridged version of Chapter 1 appeared in Finnegan 2007. As before, Ibadan Library’s Africana collection, the Doke collection in southern Africa and the blessedly summer-opening libraries of the great universities of southern England have played their indispensable part. So too have national and international conferences, and the innumerable students and scholars in between who have followed up this work. I am also much indebted to the scholars who have commented on the new Preface and added their suggestions of references and website or supplemented the additional resources for this volume (http://www.oralliterature.org/OLA), among them Jeff Opland, Russell Kaschula, Bob Cancel, Ursula Baumgardt and Jean Derive (the last two the more welcome as the first edition was coloured more by English than French scholarship) and Harold Scheub.

Unlike the first edition, when I do not think the Clarendon Press would have welcomed suggestions of images, this edition contains illustrations. They are of variable quality, location and date (though some date back to the period when the first edition was being written, or reflect the fieldwork that so influenced my approach). Some are from earlier still. But they should at least serve to remind us of the multi-sensory nature of African oral literatures—realised not just in text but in performance and individual artisty.

Old Bletchley, UK, 2012