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Oral Traditions as Communal Experience

Oral traditions in Africa are a form of communal experience. In social anthropology, they are called indigenous knowledge systems. In African literature and culture, they are taught as orature, the oral analogy of literature. Individuals do not “author” them. They are transmitted from generation to generation as a common intellectual heritage among Africans in Africa, North America, and in the African diaspora as a whole.

The Shona people of Zimbabwe refer to their oral traditions as tsika, meaning good manners or behavior. Tsika comes from tsoka, which means footsteps. Thus, oral traditions in Shona are the footsteps Shona people have followed since their origins in history. Ayi Kwei Armah refers to the oral traditions of his people as “the Way” in his novel Two ...

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