Some artistic aspects of Kutanguta : a study of some literacy stylistic features in Lozi oral narrative performances
Mwiya, Munalula Elias
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In Western literary stylistic study today emphasis seems to centre around individual works as opposed to the genres to which these works belong. The reason for this trend, I believe, is that Western literary genres have been amply explored theoretically, and elements that constitute their artistic aspects have been largely identified and established. The African oral narrative, however, has not been accorded the same treatment. While it has been recognised as a genre through its most distinguishable feature, which is that it is an orally transmitted prose, much theoretical work has yet to be done to establish its specific artistic features. Virtually nothing has been done, along these lines, on Lozi oral narratives. The current study addresses itself to this problem. The Lozi infinitive kutanguta which may be translated as "to narrate" refers both to the process of recounting the series of events which make up a particular narrative (Titangu, plural-matangu) and to the act of story-telling itself. Since any given litangu is likely to be fairly well-known by the local audience, its performance does not focus so much upon the narrator's ability to recall these events as his ability to utilize, the artistic repertoire of narrating. So implicit in the word kutanguta ("to narrate") is an evaluation of a given performer's narrative technique, tha't is, how well he or she employs the stylistic devices (iv) associated with narrative performances. It is these that I have tried to identify and explore in this study. I have also attempted to determine what constitutes their successful or unsuccessful use in kutanguta. The text is divided into four chapters. The first chapter constitutes the introduction to the study and presents, among other things, a definition of the Lozi oral narrative system, and a fairly detailed discussion of the theoretical assumptions underlying the study, and how these relate to the practical analysis of the narratives. In the second chapter, I have listed and discussed some stylistic features I have found to be significant in the corpus. These formal features have been explored to determine, in the light of contextual evidence, what function they serve in oral narrative transmission. In the third chapter, I have compared narrative versions of the same story in order to determine which performer made the more effective use of the artistic techniques at his or her disposal. Certain "literary" concepts have been discussed and incorporated within a framework for judging the narratives according to their selection and application of literary devices. The last chapter of the thesis sums up the methods and the results they have yielded, and makes suggestions about areas in which futher work could be undertaken to extend and deepen our understanding the artistry of kutanguta.