Amadou Ham Pate Ba

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Amadou Ham pâté Ba (1901-1991), Malian ethnologist, narrator and author, played an important role in introducing the world to African oral heritage, especially the folktales of West Africa. The man known as the “living Memory of Africa” he liked to say he was “one of the eldest sons of the century,” was one of the major intellectual literary figures of the 20th century. The saying with which he will always be associated for (his often quoted statement), that “In Africa when an old man dies, a library has burned down” has become so famous that it is sometimes used as an African proverb. He was commenting on the loss of African oral heritage, in praise of both old age and oral tradition, which contributes to the historical components of humanities memory. “The folktale is a key source of oral tradition, as are other forms of narrative and rituals that are considered essential components of cultural anthropology and ethnology”. (folkculture.org) There is a certain characteristic and significance of indigenous knowledge, especially in Africa. Indigenous knowledge has been defined as the local knowledge. Knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. The expressions traditional local and indigenous knowledge, are used in the literature inter-changeably, is learned through repetition which aids in its retention and reinforcement. Agricultural or desert-based societies slowly created communities that were mostly self- contained and based on self-help. Their approach to problem solving was through ambulated individual or communal experiences and knowledge derived from trial and error. This aggregated validated knowledge improved and increases in time but remained mostly unrecorded. “Even in the present information age, agricultural and desert-based communities, have remained practically cut off, thus they have been out of the mere necessity and for the sake of their survival, depending on and making use of their traditional unrecorded knowledge”. (Anwar,...
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