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African Literature and Orality: A Reading of Ngugi wa Thiango’s Wizard of the Crow (2007)

Mustapha Ruma Bala


This paper explores the relationship between orality and written literature in Africa. The paper interrogates the transformation of oral narrative into written texts and vice-versa. The paper specifically focuses on how Ngugi appropriates oral-narrative techniques commonly employed in African traditional societies in shaping the narration of events in this monumental novel. In this regard, the paper focuses on how the oral tradition in Africa influences the plot structure of Wizard of the Crow. The paper also looks at how Ngugi uses multiple narrators some of whom are observers as well as participants in unfolding the drama in the novel. These narrators, some of whom are categorically defined and the not well-defined, recount and render events happening in the novel orally in the presence of a live audience and in the process also embellish the story as they deem fit thereby rendering different versions of the same event The paper concludes with the observation that in spite of its being presented in the written medium of the novel, Wizard of the Crow indeed has generic resemblance to an extended oral narrative.


Orality; Adaptation; Adoption; Embellishment; Performance; Trickster

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