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Africa. The Continent of Storytelling. African Literature 700 BC-AD 1800s. Literature really began with ancient Egyptians About 1000 BC, Egypt lost most world power Near the Kushites were other civilizations Kushites came into power in 710 BC located at end of the Nile

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The Continent of Storytelling

african literature 700 bc ad 1800s
African Literature 700 BC-AD 1800s
  • Literature really began with ancient Egyptians
  • About 1000 BC, Egypt lost most world power
  • Near the Kushites were other civilizations
  • Kushites came into power in 710 BC
    • located at end of the Nile
    • lineage traced through females=girl power
africa s golden age
Africa’s Golden Age
  • 3rd century AD Aksum rose to power
    • rich kingdom
    • in what is now Ethiopia
    • center of trade route from Rome to India
    • culture fell in 6th century AD
      • developed own writing system before this
      • evolved into scripts still used today by Ethiopians
africa s golden age1
Africa’s Golden Age
  • Drought drove migrants south and west
  • This resulted in many great kingdoms
  • Legendary city of Timbuktu was center of some great kingdoms
  • During 4th century, Roman Empire proclaimed Christianity the official religion
    • took control of entire northern African coast
    • Ethiopia still Orthodox Christian
  • Around 700 AD, Islam introduced to Africa
    • Arabic writing system introduced
    • By 1235, Islam was state religion of many eastern and western portions of Africa
africa s golden age2
Africa’s Golden Age
  • 300 AD-1600AD marked “Golden Age”
    • sculpture, music, metalwork, textiles, and literature flourished
    • Oral epics, praise poems, fables, proverbs, ritual drama, and other forms of oral literature developed.
    • Oral tradition—literature not written down, but passed from generation to generation by word of mouth
africa s oral tradition
Africa’s Oral Tradition
  • African literature before 20th century primarily oral
  • Tonal quality important in many different languages
    • words change meaning depending on the tone in which they are spoken
    • think “uh huh” for yes, “uh oh” for problem
  • Vital to culture
    • bards, storytellers, town criers, and oral historians part of everyday life for thousands of years
  • Griots — masters of words and music
      • like a “living library”
      • today: professional storyteller, singer, or entertainer
      • in the past: memorized and transmitted nations’ histories, laws, and literature
  • In a society with limited written language, griots served as historians and entertainers.
  • Griots had to possess very good memories to be able to memorize all the traditional stories of their culture.
  • They also possessed creativity to add to their body of knowledge and extensive performance skill.
africa s literary richness
Africa’s Literary Richness
  • African literature share certain features and transcend time
    • striking images of nature
    • insightful look at human condition
    • ironies
    • Preserve cultures, bind communities
africa s oral tradition vocabulary
Africa’s Oral Tradition Vocabulary
  • Archetypal figure—universal figure in myths/tales
  • trickster—archetypal figure that uses cunning to get better of others
  • dilemma tale—form of a moral tale that ends with a question; invites audience to share judgments
  • chain tale or cumulative tale—formulaic story where every incident that came before is repeated as each new incident is added. (like “hole in the bottom of the sea”)
  • refrain—repeated lines in a story or song