Bemba Myth and Ritual: The Impact of Literacy on an Oral Culture
By focusing on the differences between an oral society and a literate one, this study exemplifies the usefulness of contemporary media studies in analyzing cultural change in Africa. It also adds a distinctive chapter to the cultural history of the Bemba as a formally oral-aural people. Hearing is their primary cognitive sense and the physical properties of sound significantly affect the Bemba worldview. Their charter myth, initiation rites, traditional authorities and tales of spirits embody a network of central religious metaphors and limit-symbols, each of which is signalized by its acoustic characteristics.
Literacy is restructuring Bemba consciousness and society, making vision the primary sense and written codes, not tribal personalities, the basis of government. Literacy de-animates cognitional objects, develops language for hermeneutical precision and frees individuals from the tribal needs to remember and conform. As more Bemba convert to Christianity and interiorize writing technology, elements of their oral religion ironically become more dependent for survival on acculturation with these literate forces.
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ORAL CULTURE AND ORAL RELIGION
Orality and Religion
An Extended Example of Bemba LimitSymbols
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African alien ancestral spirits Babemba Bantu belief Bemba culture Bemba language Bemba oral Bemba religious Bemba society Bemba traditional religion Cf Ong chap chapter charter myth chief Chiti Christian Cisungu cognitive concepts consciousness distanciation divinatory divine dynamic Etienne evil example experience expression function Garrec Goody Havelock hermeneutical human Idem Ideophones Ihde Ilondola interaction Kabilo Kalonga Kasama knowledge Labrecque n.d. language Lesa Lesa's limit-language limit-symbols listeners literacy literate living Lusaka Maapi matrilineal Mbala Mbusa meaning medium metaphors Mfumu Mipashi missionaries Mporokoso Mukulu Mumbi Mukasa Musumba narrative Ng'anga Ngulu north-eastern Rhodesia Northern Rhodesia notion oral authorities oral culture oral performances oral religion oral tradition oral word oral-aural original present proverbs reality Rhodesia Richards rite royal sacred sense sexual Shimwalule social songs sound stories structures symbols Tanguy transcendent tribal truth Tyler uncanny University of Zambia University Press village White Fathers whole witchcraft Zambia