n African Renaissance - Discordances and dissonances in oral history s on historicity and legitimacy in West Africa

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Modern reviewers of the historical past based on oral accounts tend to treat it with utmost suspicion on account of their unreliability (Henige 1974). The pursuit of absolute accuracy in oral tradition is however a fruitless endeavour. Traditions render, in many and particular ways, the personality of a culture and a society through the re-assemblage of their various elements using an array of narrative devices. The problem lies, in most instances, not with the oral nature of tradition but the appropriateness of methodologies and devices used by historians to gauge them. Historians' obsession with evidence, along with a systematic rejection of oral archives as an illusion, has had two unfortunate consequences.

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