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Philosophy, Oral Tradition and Africanistics

A survey of the aesthetic and cultural aspects of myth, with a case-study of the «Story of Kintu» from Buganda (Uganda), as a contribution to the philosophical investigations in oral traditions


Meinrad Walter

Oral traditions constitute one of the central items within the philosophical investigations in Africa. The spectrum of the oral traditions covers fields such as customs, rituals, religious beliefs, oral narratives, etc. The 'Story of Kintu' from Buganda (Uganda) is a typical narrative whose texture reflects these various dimensions. The study here presents a hermeneutical analysis of this oral-narrative-text, as a contribution to the current discourse concerning the constitution and nature of African philosophy.
Contents: Myths originate primarily as a means to solving some fundamental problems, - at the cognitive level, - or as a medium for depicting some basic experiential values. This is the working hypothesis of the structuralistic analysis of myths and rituals. The Kintu story employs the episode of a marriage/family drama in order to portray, and subsequently 'solve', the problematic of mortality and evil as encountered in the experiential world.