Show Less
Restricted access

Dagara Verbal Art

An African Tradition

Series:

Paschal Kyoore

This book examines verbal art among the Dagara people of West Africa. It provides invaluable primary material for research, and does a close analysis of folktale narration, proverb usage, riddling, chanting of dirges and popular songs by male and female praise singers, and xylophone music performance as forms of verbal art. Folktales are characterized by wit, humor, and satire, and songs within tales are a mise-en-abyme, a story within a story that entertains but also enhances the narration through the participation of the audience in the performance. Moreover, Dagara tales are didactic and moralizing as a way of controlling the behavior of individuals in society. Riddling entertains but also helps to develop the cognitive abilities of children, and demands critical and logical thinking on the part of the participating audience. Proverbs were collected in context and analyzed closely for their meaning. The study also examines closely the art of speech-making, and concludes that a good locutor knows what figures of speech to use in order to enhance communication with the audience. This study concludes that an authentic theory of Dagara—and for that matter generally African— folklore must be grounded on a thorough knowledge of the traditions, rites and rituals, and the socio-political structures that have held the society together in its historical experience. The study is an important resource for areas such as African studies, African literature and folklore, folklore in general, anthropology, culture studies, ethnomusicology, ethnic studies, and gender studies among others.