“An innovative and original blend of broad-based humanistic scholarship with a sharply focused treatment of how a people’s oral narrative tradition addresses the traumas of their history.”
Isidore Okpewho, State University of New York Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies, English, and Comparative Literature at Binghamton University
“With this book, Scheub continues his important contribution to the study and preservation of African tales by proposing that the tradition of tale-telling contributed to the subversion of colonial domination and apartheid in South Africa.…In addition to providing fascinating information about individual storytellers and their understanding of their craft, Scheub, in his final chapter, writes eloquently about storytellers as repositories of collective memory.”
There are many collections of African oral traditions, but few as carefully organized as The Uncoiling Python. Harold Scheub, one of the world’s leading scholars of African oral traditions and folklore, explores the ways in which oral traditions have served to combat and subvert colonial domination in South Africa. From the time colonial forces first came to southern Africa in 1487, oral and written traditions have been a bulwark against what became 350 years of colonial rule, characterized by the racist policies of apartheid. The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance is the first in-depth study of oral tradition as a means of survival.
In open insurrections and other subversive activities Africans resisted the daily humiliations of colonial rule, but perhaps the most effective and least apparent expression of subversion was through indigenous storytelling and poetic traditions. Harold Scheub has collected the stories and poetry of the Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele peoples to present a fascinating analysis of how the apparently harmless tellers of tales and creators of poetry acted as front-line soldiers.
Harold Scheub is Evjue-Bascom Professor of Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of many books, including Story, The Poem in the Story, Shadows, and A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller. More info →
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The Sacred Door and Other Stories: Cameroon Folktales of the Beba offers readers a selection of folktales infused with riddles, proverbs, songs, myths, and legends, using various narrative techniques that capture the vibrancy of Beba oral traditions. Makuchi retells the stories that she heard at home when she was growing up in her native Cameroon.
The Dayaks of Sarawak in Borneo, formerly headhunters, have long fascinated anthropologists and other travelers to the region. In recent years, however, mounting social, political, and economic pressures from the outside world have threatened their society and traditions. In 1971 Rubenstein began a three-year project of collecting and translating Dayak oral literature in order to preserve the insights, knowledge, and vision of these remote peoples.
This book draws together contributions from literary studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, and African language studies to analyze the complex functioning of oral texts and models in differing contexts. It examines the continuing role of orality in modern society, the adaptation of oral models to printed forms, and the ability of oral forms to 'talk back' to the technology of print.
Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems.