Oral Literature in Africa
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Besides the normal abbreviations conventional in scholarly discourse the following abbreviations have been used:


African Abstracts. London.

Afr. (in journal title)

African/africain(e)(s) [etc].

Aft. u. Übersee

Afrika und Übersee. Berlin.

Am. Anthrop.

American Anthropologist. Menasha, Wisconsin.


Musée royal de I’Afrique centrale. Annales (sciences humaines). Tervuren.


Musée royal du Congo beige. Annales (sciences humaines). Tervuren.


Musée royal du Congo beige. Annales (sciences de I’homme, linguistique). Tervuren.

Ann. et mém. Com ét. AOF

Annuaire et memoires du Comite d’études historiques et scientifiques de I’AOF. Gorée.

Anth. Ling.

Anthropological Linguistics. Indiana.

Anth. Quart.

Anthropological Quarterly. Washington.


Académie royale des sciences coloniales (sciences morales). Mémoires.


Brussels. Académie royale des sciences d’outre-mer. Mémoires. Brussels.


Académie royale des sciences d’outre-mer. Bulletin des séances. Brussels.


Bulletin of the School of Oriental (and African) Studies. London.

Bull. Com. et. AOF

Bulletin du Comité d’études historiques et scientifiques de l’AOF. Paris.

Bull. IF AN (B)

Institut français d’Afrique noire.
Bulletin (serie B).
Dakar, Paris.

Cah. étud. afr.

Cahiers d’études africaines. Paris.


Bulletin trimestriel du Centre d’étude des problèmes sociaux indigènes. Élisabethville.


International African Institute. London.


Institut français d’Afrique noire. Dakar.

IRCB Bull.

Institut royal colonial beige. Bulletin des séances. Brussels.


Institut royal colonial beige. Mémoires. Brussels.


Journal of American Folklore. Richmond, Virginia.


Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. London.

J. Soc. africanistes Mem.

Journal de la Société des africanistes. Paris.


Institut français d’Afrique noire. Mémoires. Dakar.

Mitt. Inst. Orientforsch.

Mitteilungen des Instituts für Orientforschung. Berlin.


Mitteilungen des Seminars für orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin.


Oxford Library of African Literature. Oxford.

Rass. studi etiop.

Rassegna di studi etiopici. Roma.


School of Oriental and African Studies. University of London.


Southwestern Journal of Anthropology. Albuquerque.


Travaux et mémoires de l’Institut d’ethnologie. Paris.

Trans. Hist. Soc. Ghana

Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana. Legon.


Zeitschrift für afrikanische (und oceanische) Sprachen. Berlin.


Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen. Berlin.


Zeitschrift für Kolonial-Sprachen. Berlin.

Note on Sources and References

Only the more obvious sources have been used. Where I have come across unpublished material I have taken account of it but have not made a systematic search. The sources are all documentary with the exception of some comments arising from fieldwork among the Limba of Sierra Leone and a few points from personal observation in Western Nigeria; gramophone recordings have also occasionally been used. In general, I have tried not to take my main examples from books that are already very easily accessible to the general reader. I have, for instance, given references to, but not lengthy quotations from, the ‘Oxford Library of African Literature’ series or the French ‘Classiques africains’.

In time, I have not tried to cover work appearing after the end of 1967 (though references to a few 1968 publications that I happen to have seen are included). This means that the book will already be dated by the time it appears, but obviously I had to break off at some point.

References are given in two forms: (1) the general bibliography at the end, covering works I have made particular use of or consider of particular importance (referred to in the text merely by author and date); and (2) more specialized works not included in the general bibliography (full references given ad loc.). This is to avoid burdening the bibliography at the end with too many references of only detailed or secondary relevance. With a handful of exceptions I have seen the works I cite. Where this is not so, I have indicated it either directly or by giving the source of the reference in brackets. Where I have seen an abstract but not the article itself, this is shown by giving the volume and number of African Abstracts (AA) in brackets after the reference.

The bibliography and references are only selective. It would have been out of the question to have attempted a comprehensive bibliography.