Importance of Oral Tradition

Topics: Africa, African traditional religion, Bantu Pages: 3 (973 words) Published: August 13, 2013
QUESTION:Assess the significance of Oral tradition in Bantu Religion. In your view, does oral tradition have a future in the midst of modernity and social change?

In African Traditional Religion, morals, values, beliefs and culture among other things play a critical role in society. The upholding of societal norms and values is a sacred affair especially that in African society religion is a way of life. In addition, the younger generation is also inquisitive about the history of the society that it lives in. Oral tradition serves to cater for this demand to preserve knowledge and feed the minds of the new entrants in society. This essay seeks to assess the importance of oral tradition in Bantu religion and to ascertain whether it can survive in today’s world. The term ‘oral tradition’ will be defined first, followed by a brief description of the Bantu people. The importance of oral tradition will be discussed next followed by a conclusion where it will be determined whether oral tradition has a future or not. According to Vansina (1985), oral tradition is cultural material and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another. It is a community's cultural and historical traditions passed down by word of mouth or example from one generation to another without written instruction. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledges across generations without a writing system. The term “Bantu” is used as a general label for over 300 ethnic groups in Africa. They make up a major part of the population of nearly all African countries south of the Sahara. Among the best-known groups are the Swahili, located throughout eastern Africa, and the Zulu, predominantly in South Africa. The Bantu are known more as a language group,...

References: Mbiti, J.S. (1991). Introduction to African religion. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd.
Richards, A.I (1982). Chisungu: A Girl’s Initiation Ceremony Among the Bemba of Zambia. New York: Routledge.
Van Lehman, D and Eno, O. (2003). The Somali Bantu: Their History and Culture. Washington D.C: Center for Applied Linguistics
Vansina, J. (1985). Oral Tradition as History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
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