Original Research

Bury my bones but keep my words: The interface between oral tradition and contemporary African writing

M.J. Cloete
Literator | Vol 25, No 2 | a254 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v25i2.254 | © 2004 M.J. Cloete | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2004 | Published: 31 July 2004

About the author(s)

M.J. Cloete, School of Languages and Communication Studies, University of the North, Sovenga, South Africa

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The contention in this article is that African oral tradition should be reexamined in view of its perceived new importance in the work of African novelists. This article investigates the nature and definition of oral tradition, as well as the use of oral tradition as a cultural tool.

The increasing inclusion of oral literature as part of the African literature component within university and school curricula is discussed. Finally, the pronounced role of oral tradition in fiction is examined, using as exemplars some seminal works of Bessie Head (1978, 1990 and 1995 ) and Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1965, 1977, 1981, and 1982).


African Literature; Bessie Head; Ngugi Wa Thiong O; Oral Literature


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