Oral Traditions or Spoken Word in the Caribbean

1557 Words Mar 11th, 2007 7 Pages
ORAL TRADITION OR SPOKEN WORD
The oral tradition constitutes the main element of transmission and coverage of the oral literature and history, music and dancing. This tradition begins with the internal context of the group and the communication through interaction which brings fourth a folkloric process. The Afro-Caribbean folklore of the Archipelago is a mixture of the African, the British, and the Creole aspects distributed through a cultural continuum of variations. The members of the elite develop certain forms of local standardise practices of archaic British culture and the Creole people trigger-off a series Caribbean syncretism with a mixture of Amerindian and African feeling.
In ancient times, the tradition of the Spoken Word was
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Ruth Finnegan, in her survey of oral poetry, shows that the study of folklore and the implications of oral traditions in nineteenth-century Europe "went along with the upsurge of national feeling," and she cites Ireland and negritude as parallel developments in the twentieth century (Finnegan 1977: 36, qtd in Habekost, 70)). The dialect poetry of Louise Bennett had a great impact on the emergent Jamaican nationalism of the pre-Independence era, and highlighted the connection between folklore/oral tradition and national pride in the indigenous cultural heritage.
This attitude is shared by the dub poets, who embody the legacy of Louise Bennett. Yet while Miss Lou's approach was a national and humanistic one, the dub poets have remodelled the component of the oral tradition, placing it within the context of a revolutionary struggle against cultural and physical oppression. Introducing the first full-length collection of Louise Bennett's poetry, Jamaica Labrish, Rex Nettleford describes the conditions under which she wrote:
She lived in an oral tradition where people talked and listened, cross-talked and reported and possess, almost to a fault, a high propensity for words-"bad" words, new words, archaic words, "big," long and sonorous words. The Bible, The Sankey hymnal, the folksong and the memory gems form the background to these propensities. [Bennett 1966: 11]
Dub poetry similarly employs all the features of the oral traditions which were brought
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