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The African Epic Controversy

Historical, Philosophical and Aesthetic Perspectives on Epic Poetry and Performance

by Mugyabuso M. Mulokozi

Mulokozi discusses African epic poetry from a context-performance perspective, and asserts that oral epic poetry is a living and lived event, besides being a literary text. His work is based on previously unpublished material from the Enanga epic tradition of the Bahaya of Tanzania, and material on the African epic, gathered from West, Central, Southern and Eastern Africa since 1970, and arises from the controversies about the occurrence of the epic in Africa from this time. It includes full texts of the poems themselves in the original Luhaya language and set alongside English translations. For each poem, the author presents a profile of the singer, and an introduction and anaylsis of the socio-historical context, literary content and stylistic features of the poem. Adopting a sociological, generative approach, he re-examines questions of oral composition, oral poetics, the nature and role of music in epic performance, the concept of heroism in African epic poetry, and how it stands in relation to history and philosophy.

As a whole, the study reaffirms the existence of the African epic, and generates new definitions and theoretical approaches taking forward scholarly debate on epic poetry in Africa.

ISBN 9789987686292 | 572 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2002 | Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Tanzania | Paperback




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