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Transcript of AFRICA:
A JOURNEY THROUGH LITERATURE
RISE OF AFRICA'S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS
A Brief Historical Development
GRIOTS AND THE ORAL TRADITIONS
7,ooo years ago
Islam and Christianity In Africa
The Sahara divide the continent into two main regions
North Africa – Mediterranean coast from Morocco to Egypt and includes the valley of the Nile River as far south as Ethiopia
North Africans felt the influence of Christianity by the A.D. 300’s, and in the 700’s, much of the area came under the influence of Islam.
Islam and Christianity In Africa
South of the Sahara is the region inhabited by black Africans.
Before the modern era, they had relatively little contact with the rest of the world
Islam entered Africa south of the Sahara very slowly, compared with its sweep across North Africa, and Christian missionaries were not very active there until the 1800’s.
Islam and Christianity In Africa
Since then, the spread of Islam and Christianity has weakened the indigenous religions, myths, and legends of sub-Saharan Africa. However, the traditional beliefs have not disappeared.
In some places, they have blended with new religions from other cultures, so that an African Muslim might combine Islam with the traditional practice of ancestor worship.
Africa in the Modern Era
The peoples of Africa did not use written language until modern times instead pass literature through their rich and complex oral traditions.
In some cultures, professional storytellers—called griots—preserved the oral tradition.
European colonization (1800s)
Independence and Rebirth of Traditional Cultures (mid 1990s)
About 7,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Hottentot and the Bushmen began moving from the Sahara toward southern Africa.
Five thousand years later, people who spoke Bantu languages began spreading out from Cameroon, on Africa's west coast, until they eventually inhabited much of sub-Saharan Africa.
Aksum (Ethopia), EA
Kingdom of Old Ghana, WA
Empires of Old Mali and Songhai, WA
Luba and Malawi Empires, CA
Two Congo Kingdoms, EA
Swahili Culture, EA
Kingdom of Old Zimbabwe, SA
Zulu Nation, SA
Africa's Golden Age (A.D. 300 - A.D. 1600)
becomes a wide-spread term for oral artists, historians, etc.
Hausa – marok’a Mandé – nyamakala; Mandinka – jali; Mossi – bendere
described as “the all-seeing, all-knowing eyes of society.”
historians, praise-singers and musical entertainers (griotte for female)
social memory of the community
and the holder of the word
Messages transmitted orally from one generation to another through speech or song and may take the form of folktales and fables, epic histories and narrations, proverbs or sayings, and songs
Make a society to pass knowledge across generations without writing
Help people make sense of the world and are used to teach children and adults about important aspects of their culture.
entrusted with the memorization, recitation, and passing on of cultural traditions from one generation to the next
called upon at important events, during which he recounts a family’s genealogy playing his Kora
involves a spiritual and ethical dimension through the spoken or musical part of their performance
MAIN CHARACTER FEATURES
multiple gods, often grouped together in family relationships
every culture recognizes a supreme god, an all-powerful creator who is usually associated with the sky
number varies from culture to culture
Africans who have adopted Christianity or Islam sometimes identify the supreme deity of those faiths with
the supreme deity
invisible beings with powers for good or evil
less grand, less powerful, and less like humans than the gods, who often have weaknesses and emotions
associated with physical features such as mountains, rivers, wells, trees, and springs; also in humans and animals
may be worshiped or controlled through magical means by witch doctor who leads rituals
regard as special, almost sacred, beings
represent the duality—the tension or balance between paired or opposing forces—that is basic to life
some groups, such as the non-Bantu peoples of the Niger and Congo regions, believe that twins of opposite sexes are symbols of this duality
may be a god, an animal, or a human being
his pranks and mischief cause trouble among gods, among humans, or between gods and humans
sometimes a creator or culture hero whose activities explain how some aspect of the world came into being
animal tricksters are often small, helpless creatures who manage to outwit bigger and fiercer animals
may be transformed into minor deities for communities or entire nations
some mythic ancestors began as real-life personages whose deeds were exaggerated over time
traditionally regarded rulers as divine or semidivine
other legends involve culture heroes who performed great feats or embodied important values
spirits of dead ancestors remain near their living descendants to help and protect them—as long as these relatives perform certain ceremonies and pay them due respect
dead souls (old men) may return as snakes, which many Africans regard with respect
many groups trace their origins, or the origins of all humans, to them
Traditional African Literature
do not tell a story, but like songs, create a vivid, expressive testament to a speaker’s thought or emotional state.
written to be sung with the accompaniment of a harp or a set of reed pipes
represent a poetic from that uses few words but achieves great depth of meaning and they function as the essence of people’s values and knowledge
important kind of African moral tale intended for listeners to discuss and debate
an open-ended story that concludes with a question that asks the audience to choose among several alternatives
invites its audience to think about right and wrong behavior and how to best live within society
have been handed down in the oral tradition from ancient times
represent a wide and colorful variety that embodies the African people’s most cherished religious and social beliefs
kind of folktale told all over the world
the trickster is a clever animal or person who plays tricks on other characters
often it's because the trickster is greedy or boastful
Deities of Yoruba
Anansi, The Trickster Spider
Mawu-lisa, Twin Deities of Fon
A Generation of Griot
Feierman, Steven et al. (1995). African History: From the Earliest Times to Independence. Singapore: Pearson Education Asia
Fresewitt, Mary Ann et al. (2001). The Humanities: Cultural Arts and Continuities. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company
African Mythology. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from www.mythencyclopdia.com/A-Am/African-mythology.html#b
Religious Mythology in African Traditional Thought Systems. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from www.scribd.com/doc/13980465/Religious-Mythology-in-African-Traditional-Thought-Systems
The Oral Tradition of Africa. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from www.wachouston.org
Christopher I. Ejizu (n.d). African Traditional Religions and the Promotion of Community Living in Africa. Retrieved August 24, 2013, fromhttp://www.afrikaworld.net/afrel/community.htm
On African Society Today
The ability of African traditional religions to promote the community ideal of peaceful and harmonious co-existence in contemporary African society is in a state of progressive decline
African societies are visibly in a state of transition
On African Visual Arts
The influence of literature is highly visible in almost all African visual arts where is may serve for decoration, symbolism, utilization, spirituality, and sometimes, all at once.
On African Performing Arts
Traditional African drama, often associated with ritual and social events, tends to emphasize mime, dance, music, costumes, and masks rather than verbal art. Its influence on contemporary African drama is particularly significant.
To Other Parts of the World
African in America, during slavery period, extend its foundation of culture to other native Americans.
African literature does not just leave Africa its way of life, but also unlocks new perspectives to other parts of the world.
On African Literature
the interconnecting worlds of myth, ritual and literature in Africa
Famous writers: Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Elechi Amadi , Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Bronze ceremonial vessel, Igbo
Bronze casting of Oduduwa, Yoruba
Two Bambara Chiwara
"Synced Rhythm". Painting by Masoud of Tanzania
Anansi, the Play
A Dance Festival
We desire to bequest two things to our children -- the roots and wings. ~Sudanese Proverb
What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn. ~African Proverb
Bayajibda, Hero of Daura
Ancestors of Hausa
Mami-wata, Water spirit
Periods of African Literature
Period of Colonization
Flowering and great heights of African traditional literature in the form of oral traditions
Era of Colonization
Primarily slave narratives
Africans exposed to Western languages began to write in those tongues
Increasingly showed themes of liberation, independence, and (among Africans in French-controlled territories) Négritude
Grown dramatically in quantity and in recognition
African writers in this period wrote both in Western languages (notably English, French, and Portuguese) and in traditional African languages
the tradition of African oral literature which includes praise poems, love poems, tales, ritual dramas and moral instructions in the form of proverbs and fables.
also includes epics, poems and narratives
include creation stories and origin of death
partly human, partly superhuman who embody the highest values of a society – carry with them a culture’s history, values and traditions
Period of Colonialism and Post-colonialism
literally means ‘blackness’
a literary movement of the 1930s – 1950s that began among French-speaking African and Caribbean writers living in Paris as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation
Basic ideas include
-Africans must look to their own cultural heritage to determine the values and traditions that are most useful in the modern world
- committed writers should use African subject matter and poetic traditions and should excite a desire for political freedom
- negritude itself encompasses the whole African cultural, economic, social and political values
- the value and dignity of African traditions and peoples must be asserted
South Africa in 1948, its all-white government immediately began enforcing existing policies of racial segregation under a system of legislation
Nonwhite South Africans (a majority of the population) would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities, and contact between the two groups would be limited