An investigation into the educational significance of oral literature in traditional Tumbuka society
Bota, Thomson John
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Oral literattire plays a significant role in the socialiaation of young people in any society. Among the Tumbuka, the dominant farm is the vidokoni, one of the four main genres. The others are midauko, ntarika and nyimbo, Vidokeni, comprising narratives both with and witJaout song, is extensively used in inculcating societal values and beliefs, indeed the entire Tumbuka cosaovision. The relationship between oral literature, on the one hand, and the process of training and bringing up the young - education on the ether, is extremely intimatee Thus, to determine the content,i.e. the values and beliefs, fundamental to Tumbuka educational system, the formal process of oral literature narration necessarily calls for examining the structures and themes of videkoni themselves. To this end, this study has adopted a generalized structural-functionalist approach in its examination of vidokoni and also of the relationship between oral literature and education in Tumbuka society. The methodology used is descriptive emphasizing the functional aspect of narratives in education. Its materials have been drawn, in addition to oral literature itself, from interviews, printed materials, observation and the author's"^: own experience. This study is divided into four main chapters, plus an introductory and a concluding chapter. A full bibliography of relevant materials is also provided. The introduction provides the historical and cultural backgrovind of the Tumbuka people which influences their oral literature which is the concern of chapter one» Also in this chapter* is a discussion of the four genres of Tumbuka oral literature, with particular emphasis on the fact that a good deal of educational work is carried out through vidokoni narratives.Chapter two deals with Tumbuka traditional educational system and its syllabuses and curricula.Generally, while a great deal of formal training is conducted throtigh narratives, this activity is complemented by learning through imitation (child imitates his adults and/or his peers) sind participation in various play and real life activities including initiation ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, etc. Apprenticeship, especially where learning of craftsmsinship is concerned, plays an important role in the experience of Tumbuka children.In this chapter there is also an evaluation of the content of education. For instance, it focuses on what was taught to children at various stages of their development.The role of parents, siblings and^ public is also examined here. Chapter three examines the themes and motifs in the various narratives in the representative; corpus given here. It is noted, thereby confirming our argument, that the themes of narratives encapsulate important values and beliefs, that the motifs contribute to the logic as they provide the data for substantiating the argument and that all in all the central teachings are to be found in these themes, the narratives' central and controlling ideas.To this end, therefore, narratives are both process and content of Tumbuka traditional education. Chapter four looks at the various functions of narratives. It also examines the interests of narrators. The functions are divided into two: the latent and the manifest. The latent functions are those that are not clearly meant to teach (hidden functions). The manifest functions refer to functions which are clearly meant to teach, A narrator's interest is an important tool (1) determining the serious¬ness of purpose in the teaching process and (2) for evaluating who teaches what to whom and at what stage.For this reason chapter four is concerned with this aspect of the interface between oral literature and education - the medium between the learner and the content - and its form. From our examination of the narrator and his or her place in the education process;, it is observed that age and sex groupings predominate. The reason for this is that men feel most competent and are much at home when they narrate stories that describe male roles in society. Similarly, women concentrate on narratives in which women's roles are dominant.As for children (boys and girls), they are more interested in adventures and fantastic stories as those help them to enhance their imaginative faculties as well as to explore their social and physical environments.The last chapter of this study, the conclusion, sums up the relationship between oral literature and education. It draws together the various strands and avenues pursued in the exploration of the educational system and the oral literature of the Tumbuka, More concretely the conclusion reveals that there is a dire need for (a) further research into the relationship between oral literature and education, (b) comparative studies between Tumbuka and other societies in which oral literature is still used for educational purposes, and (c) a closer examination ©f the possibility of utilizing oral literature in modern education.
SubjectFolk literature -- Tumbuka
- Education