This text attempts to retrieve and make accessible the oral
literature of South Africa, which is largely absent from accounts
of literary history in the country. The author considers ways of
recovering oral forms for literary debate and offers strategies for
"reading" oral texts. Throughout, the aim is to engage with oral
texts in their own particular historical and discursive contexts
while remaining alert to their possible significance for the
contemporary scene. The text covers the oral literature of the /Xam
Bushmen, the praise poetry of the Zulu nation, the combining of the
oral tradition with the rituals of black separatist churches, the
use of oral poetry by the Black Consciousness movement and the role
of poetry and performance in the struggle for democracy in the
1980s and 1990s.
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