African Oral Tradition Essay

Submitted By Sami-Montanez
Words: 636
Pages: 3

Samantha Montanez
AAAS 2251
Lupenga Mphande
May 16th, 2015
African Oral Tradition Throughout history in Africa, Art, specifically traditional oral art, has been a way for the community to come together and participate in a mutual interest. Because African culture is primarily characterized as oral, its not just art to the community, it is an important and vibrant part of life in their communities. Orature by definition means the artistic use of language in oral performance, and refers to something that is passed on through spoken word. This is important in African culture because it’s a way for the elders of the community to pass down the oral traditions to the new generation. This is done via rituals, divination, song and dance, myths, and epics. An example of these oral traditions is the epic Sundiata, which is a perfect example of African tradition. “Epics, as an example of legends, are poetic accounts of the deeds of great heroes and heroines, or of a nation’s past history orally transmitted as well as performed in a ceremonial context.” An epic tells tales of genealogy, relationships between clans, traditional code of behavior, respect for customs, honor and courage. There are many reoccurring common themes such as “sibling rivalry, exile and the prodigal son, corruption at court, return of exile, restoration of order, kindness and generosity, respect for elderly parents, mysterious birth, and orphanage (Mphande 73).” Sundiata is an epic that takes many of these themes in a story about a young man that embarks on a journey and hits many obstacles along the way. Sundiata is told from the point of view of the griot who is the storyteller. He tells the story of a king named Maghan Kon Fatta, who was told that he will have a great ruler of a son, if he marries an ugly woman, Sogolon. The two conceive Sundiata. In his child, Sundiata, faces two big obstacles. The first is a conflict between the kings first wife, Sassouma, spreading vicious rumors against Sogolon and Sundiata in order to ensure that the kings and hers son gets control. This is a perfect example of the motif of sibling rivalry in this epic. The second biggest challenge he faces is the inability to walk. Because of this inability, when the king dies, the elders place power into Sundiatas brother. When Sundiata learns to walk and his power is shown to the community, Sassouma is worried for her sons power and exiles Sundiata and