Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Paukwa" - "Pakawa"


Dr. Ochieng’ K’Olewe’s guest lecture was an amazing experience with many laughs! I really enjoyed that all the stories were oral stories which reflect the teller’s version of the tale and so becomes a unique story every time it is told. Another thing I really liked about the African fairy tales is that they involve the teller calling out to the audience and the audience responding that they are ready for the story. The dark environment mirrored the way these stories are told traditionally and also allow the listeners to fully concentrate on the teller’s voice and especially the emotions he expresses. I even found myself picturing the scenes in my mind that he described.
I thought it was interesting to see examples of how general stories can actually reflected a specific culture’s beliefs, attitudes, and values. For example the story where the mouse tries to get the other animals to help him get rid of the mouse trap stresses the importance of interconnectedness. While people may feel that “it is not my problem”, not doing anything might have negative effects on you later. Caring for others and their problems is especially important for small African communities were one person’s problem can affect everyone. This example also reflects the importance that African people place on blood relations. As Dr. Ochieng’ said, people are often distantly related so everyone is family and thus if one person has a problem, the whole family should help out.
Another interesting thing I learned is how songs and especially call and response songs are part of stories or even tell a whole story. Other things I learned from this presentation is that the setting of the tales are very important which helps transmit information about the community’s origin, social foundation, and helps to affirm the community and its history. Often a story is also used to correct behavior or keep the natural order of things instead of giving a lecture on behavior. This is similar to fairy tales were the reader after reading the story has to come up with his own moral and thus gains his own insights. Thinking for yourself is always better than being told what to do or think.

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