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Oral Literature of the Maasai

by Naomi Kipuri

Oral Literature of the Maasai offers an extensive collection of types of oral literature: oral narratives; proverbs; riddles; and a variety of songs for different occasions. The versions in this book were collected by the author from a specific Maasai community in Kajiado County of Kenya. The author listened to many of the narratives and participated in many proverb and riddle telling sessions as she grew up in her Ilbissil village of Kajiado Central Sub-county. However, she recorded most of the examples of oral literature in the early seventies with the help of her mother, who performed the role of the oral artist. Many songs were recorded from live performances. The examples ring with individuality, while also revealing a comprehensive way of life of a people. The images in the literature reveal the concrete life of the Maasai – people living closely with their livestock and engaged in constant struggle with the environment. But like all important literature, the materials here ultimately reveal a people with its moral and spiritual concerns, grappling with questions of human values and relations, struggling for a better social order. 

This book recommends itself to the general reader. However, the book is more than this: it includes stimulating discussions of examples, as well as review questions and exercises. The book is highly recommended to students of oral literature at secondary school level and at the university.

ISBN 9789966461735 | 280 pages | 210 x 148 mm | 1983 | East African Educational Publishers, Kenya | Paperback

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