Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the beauty of Orature

Whenever I go to the tribe during festivities, I often had to prepare some meals and invite the kindred poor to come and have a feast, we could gather around the wood stove in our compound and I would make them happy by telling them stories I learned from my childhood, the elder of family and kinfolks would listen carefully and at times adds comment if unintentionally I misquote a proverb,

I try to recreate the scenery around the hearths as it was in the past, to sit around fires to poke and smell the sting of the rising smoke, to see myself as the great story-teller in the age of gold as I take the wide eyed kids thousands of miles back into the memory lane of the child I was.

Now I write imaginatively from the oral culture, most from my own story telling. And my first book” music of the mind” a collection of poetry; tells of my journey and the beauty I discovered as I try to continue the priceless vocation of a habitual story teller..

today when I think of an African story I once had the privilege to listen to, a story of how the sky used to touch the earth and how an old lady used to wipe her hands on the moon after each meal and how the sky eventually got angry and moved away from the old lady. I now think of another meaning behind these words, I see myself as that old lady, asking the sky for forgiveness, trying to bring the “moonlight tales” closer to the earth.

I have a reason why I do what I do, recreating details as it was true to life, because I believe that story telling is a simple and wonderful way to act out our imaginations, the art helps the mind grow and learn to create. is a way to let the children use their imaginations and help the them build up their communication skill as it has done to this author,

growing up in the village, as a child I looked forward nightly to the story times that took place at of our multipart, my favorite stories were the sing along ones, call and response form. My grandfather would quote a proverb and would summon us to finish it.

in this method the art entails a caller or lead singer who “raises the song” of the story and the community chorus will respond, or “agree underneath the song.”
But in stories, the storyteller “calls” out the story in lines; and the audience “responds” at regular intervals

Granny: Once upon a time
Children: Time, time
Granny: Many, many moons ago
Children: Mmmmh

Each story or song had a lesson to be learnt from within, as I grew the lessons strengthened me, my writings today is conditioned by the childhood scenery, these riches of the story telling culture are quite evident to me and very beautiful

Today there may be no fires to sit around in most rural settings as it was in the past, because the world is not as safe as it was, but story telling lives on, and as I sit in my verandah looking at the moon at night my mind goes back home, memories closeting on the charcoal fire, the smells of either ground-nuts toasting or yam roasting recalls the beauty of the art of the stories that developed my curiosity towards the bits and pieces around me and taught me the importance of my lineage

I to write about the beauty of this gift, to share my culture and to contribute the little I can in preserving the art, at times I use illustration from the western stories that are written down and illustrated in books, because I want to make the modern writer know that he doesn’t need to go back to the past to recreate the art of “ orature”. They are available within reach,

an example of one story I loved to give the kid by oration is the latest bestseller novel “Harry Potter” a lot of these stories are based on village lifestyles that are quiet familiar to those of us brought up in rural setting,

to make folk understand what I intended for them to see, I tried my best so the fable stories are narrated in such a way using the lingering dialect of our village, that both the old and young are glued to my narratives as I do in my excitement as a kid whenever I heard an elder tell a story

Great African writers have often done what I do, writers like Chinua Achebe often introduce into literature, stories from their culture’s oral traditions and the meaning of the proverbs printed in his dialect, song-tales, myths, folktales, fairy tales, animal fables, One example is this proverb-song given in untranslated Igbo in Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Ch. 7, p. 42:

because they too are conditioned by their culture.


During my childhood, I used to listen to my grandmother reciting to us the poetry of mythology and legends of our ancestral tradition, listening to her made me a humble and a respectful child, it is a brilliant way of coping with problems; “she once said to me” I sing it when I walk alone to the stream, fears would be lost when we recite poetry of hope. She continued. Today I agree with her

One of the beautiful things about poetry is that you can actually use it to heal your own emotion and to teach the world a thing or two about the basics of your society, for example like learning names and their meaning, the dialect and belief as you see it

Literature among the African is in actual fact spoken and poetic, 'a verbal art so pure and so complete.” touching, and emotional, the arts examines the black experience as reflected in the drama of Africans. I love the choruses which everybody including my grandma sang along to. The call and response form help those of us who were shy speaking in public because it afforded us the opportunity to overcome our shyness and also helped in boosting our confidence. This in a way is the first education I got to be a good in speaking publicly

It is very important to tell stories to children through this method. Apart from being exciting poetry helps them in many ways: to build up their listening skills, to become effective communicators with the use of their dialect, to appreciate the society in which they live, to bridge a gap between their generation and past generations, to understand their roots and to become more creative in what they do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what do you mean by 'going to the tribe'?