Oral Literature in Africa

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Open Book Publishers, 2012 - Social Science - 614 pages
Ruth Finnegan's Oral Literature in Africa was first published in 1970, and since then has been widely praised as one of the most important books in its field. Based on years of fieldwork, the study traces the history of storytelling across the continent of Africa. This revised edition makes Finnegan's ground-breaking research available to the next generation of scholars. It includes a new introduction, additional images and an updated bibliography, as well as its original chapters on poetry, prose, "drum language" and drama, and an overview of the social, linguistic and historical background of oral literature in Africa. This book is the first volume in the World Oral Literature Series, an ongoing collaboration between OBP and World Oral Literature Project. A free online archive of recordings and photographs that Finnegan made during her fieldwork in the late 1960s is hosted by the World Oral Literature Project (http: //www.oralliterature.org/collections/rfinnegan001.html) and can also be accessed from publisher's website.

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Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite
Effective communication varies from culture to culture. One way of communicating language is no better than another, but we can learn a lot from
each other. World Oral Literature Series Volume 1: Oral Literature by Ruth Finnegan investigates how culture, tradition, and various forms of communication have been passed down from different parts of Africa. Ruth takes us on a journey where you will learn several ways in which they express themselves - from drums, dance, songs, parables and children's rhymes to prose. Each form of communication sets the backdrop and rhythm of the language. To help further illustrate the language of communication, Ruth displays beautiful photos of where some of the stories unfold. If you are interested in getting up close and personal with Ruth’s experience, she provides an online audio resource link of original songs and stories from the Limba people, a major ethnic group in Sierra Leone.
World Oral Literature Series Volume 1: Oral Literature by Ruth Finnegan displays not only various forms of communication within the African culture, but allows you to see that there are other effective ways to communicate. Effective communication in the United States is beginning to seem like a dying art form. In today’s society, some people display their ignorance and begin to stereotype or discount other forms of oral communication when they lack understanding. In order to become effective communicators, we must each invest time and have an interest in learning how to communicate with each other. We can learn a lot from other countries and learn other ways of communicating. If you are looking for a historical viewpoint pertaining to how other cultures communicate, start your research with World Oral Literature Series Volume 1: Oral Literature by Ruth Finnegan.

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Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite
Oral Literature in Africa (World Oral Literature) by Ruth Finnegan is an interesting perspective and study on the tradition of oral storytelling
, especially in African countries. Oral Literature in Africa (World Oral Literature) by Ruth Finnegan is a comprehensive study guide with a well-researched look into the history of oral folklore and storytelling that has been around since the beginning of humankind. The book is divided into various chapters such as the history of this tradition, its social and linguistic background, the various forms and styles of poetry involved, the use of drums and rhythm to accompany it, dramatics, and the various “types” of storytelling in the form of short stories with morals, proverbs, poetry, stories as a teaching medium, and more. Also included are some photos taken during this field study as well as numerous references to similar works.
Oral Literature in Africa (World Oral Literature) by Ruth Finnegan is an interesting read and I found it especially fascinating to look at some of the pictures from Sierra Leone among other places that depict the storytellers and actual places. The book also provides a broad history of this oral tradition across the continent of Africa, with West, Central, and Southern Africa in particular. I also enjoyed reading the actual animal stories that are provided as examples in the book, along with several examples of actual lyrics of the oral songs or words of the oral story. Overall, this is a thoroughly researched book on this subject that I would recommend.

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