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ONABIYI, MONILOLA ABIDEMI MATRIC NO: 07/15CD152
A LONG ESSAY SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, FACULTY OF ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN. AWARD OF THE BACHELOR OF ARTS (HONS) IN ENGLISH.
CERTIFICATION THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN READ AND APPROVED AS MEETING OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS (HONS.) ENGLISH IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH OF THE FACULTY OF ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN, NIGERIA. …………………….. SUPERVISOR ………………………… DATE
……………………… HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
……………………. EXTERNAL EXAMINER
DEDICATION This project is dedicated to God Almighty, and to my parents for the love and care.
iv . Lastly.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I give special thank to God who created me and who has made it possible for me to get to this stage of my life. God will continue to bless you. My thanks also goes to Dr. May God continue to protect and lead her aright in all her endeavours. I say a big thank you to Tobi Olushola Rowland for his moral support and also financial support. Alanamu for his financial support and for always being there. Thank you all and Godbless. Onabiyi and my Junior ones Abiola and Damilola for their love and prayers. Ibrahim for her scholarly guidance and advice which greatly helped in writing this long Essay. I say thank you to my parent Mr. My profound gratitude and appreciation goes to my supervisor Dr. and Mrs. Mrs.
v . the project seeks to explore the novel as an important artifact and a literary product of social existence. Instability is also provoked and acute cultural anxiety is shown in the work of a “natural artist” such as Amos Tutuola in this case. It examines how “authencity” is signified in The Palm – Wine Drinkard as it is written by a native artist. the project seek to demonstrate that it is an ambivalence over the value and significance of The Palm – Wine Drinkard.ABSTRACT This project explores the Amos Tutuola’s Palm – Wine Drinkard in terms of it’s use of mythological icons. In particular. In doing so.
7 1.1 1.8 The Meaning of Mythology African Belief System and Myth The Yoruba Perception of Myth The Purpose and Significance of Study Aims and Objectives Methodology Scope of Study Playwrights Autobiography 1 5 8 10 12 14 15 16 i ii iii iv v vi vi .TABLE OF CONTENTS Title Page Certification Dedication Acknowledgement Abstract Table of Contents CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.5 1.2 1.6 1.4 1.3 1.
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2.2 Nature of Myth The Influence of Mythology on African Creative Writers 2.3 Essence and Function of Mythology in the African Society 45 44 20 CHAPTER THREE ELEMENTS OF MYTH IN AMOS TUTUOLA THE PALM-WINE DRINKARD CHAPTER FOUR TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SOCIETAL OVERVIEWS AND CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY 66 88 48 vii .1 2.
gods. For example 1 . The stories of nature American people are also well known. heroes. The stories often focus on human qualities such as good and evil.CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1. unicorn. supernatural beings. Myths often tell the story of ancestors. the classical mythology of the ancient Greeks and Romans is familiar to most people. or goddesses with special powers sometimes myths try to describe aspects of customs or explain natural events such as the sun or lightning. or dragons. These stories sometimes contain mythical characters such as mermaids. All cultures have some type of myths for example. The same myths can often be found in different part of the world.1 THE MEANING OF MYTHOLOGY Mythology is a collection of traditional stories that express the belief of values of a group of people.
But. Good gods and goddesses have the qualities a society admires and evil ones have the qualities the society dislikes. A number of mythical figures even look like human being and in many cases. The study of myth is called mythology and myth belongs to the sphere of will. An old theory. goddesses. animals and people are common among may cultures. holds that myth is oral narratives which explain the essences and sequences of ritual performances. and heroes of mythology have human characteristics. Most mythical stories concern divinities (divine beings). the human qualities of the divinities reflect society idea. These divinities have supernatural powers – powers far greater than any humans beings has. in spite of their supernatural powers. either from epoch or from culture to culture. many gods. It does not have a single form or act according to the simple set of rules. and myth that has enjoyed considerable vogue. thereby 2 .creation stories related to plants.
mythology has provided material for much of the world’s great art. ocean. For thousands of years. Some myth through the actions or particular gods and heroes. tries to explain natural processes or events. Myth and mythological characters have 3 . etc. the creation and explanatory myths. rivers. in its own case. one notes that myth involves living and this clearly indicates the element of struggle in human nature. that is nothing should be done in excess. stress proper behaviour and this has to do with the ancient Greek’s strong belief in moderation. Myth is usually divided into two groups.preserving the memory of these elements for posterity such that myth is second to rituals. in terms of evolution. Thus. the creation of human beings and the birth of gods and goddesses and this type of myth is developed by the early societies. Explanatory myth. Creation myths try to explain the origin of the world. Many societies have developed myth to explain the formation and characteristics of geographical features such as lake.
Another group of myth beings include gods and goddesses who resemble animals and these characters are called ‘Theriomorphic’ which mean ‘in the shape of animal’ and many of these occur in Egyptian mythology. which are called from Greek expression meaning ‘in the shape of man’. these divinities were born. these include ‘anthropomorphic’ divinities. these beings were neither completely human nor complete animal. The third group of mythical beings has no specific name. literature. music etc. Human beings play an important part in mythology as myth deals with the relationships between mortals and divinities. There are two ways in which the presence of myth in any society may be explained. fought with one another and generally behaved like their human worshippers. fell in love. Mythical beings fall into several groups.inspired masterpieces of architecture. one is by 4 . An example is the famous sphinx of Egypt who had a human head and a horse body.
Myth hides nothing and flaunt nothing: it distorts. African mythology is a living chronicle in the minds of people. it is neither a lie nor a confession. and some of these mythologies are simple and primitive while others are elaborate and complex. 1. In the study of myth.the way of diffusion and the other is through the independent working of imagination. it is an influxion. African mythology as every other form of African conceptual pattern.2 AFRICAN BELIEF SYSTEM AND MYTH A wide variety of mythologies have developed among many people that live in Africa. the African’s metaphysics is created and his beliefs are constructed. 5 . emphasise human interaction in life itself. culture and the experience of the African man and it portrays his wishes and the fears as he gropes to understand the unknown by disserting and remolding it to fit his frame of reference. It. Myth expresses the history.
Essentially. the earth itself. convincing the god to send rain to counteract the extreme heat of the new sun. and river and ocean banks to contain the water that would otherwise have flooded the world. A myth is created to enhance this and this is done through reincarnation. It is the culture hero trickster Aranse the spider who acts as the god’s connection to human beings. Perhaps the best – known African mythologies are those of the West African Ashanti. and Yoruba people. fon. explains the context of various African cultures and norms though spiritual communication which often occurs in African myth as a means to uplift the living from the sorrows of their entanglements in the ‘here and now’ philosophy. Arranse corrects the mistakes of Nyame’s creation. Aranse also lives up to his trickster reputation by succeeding in marrying the high god’s daughter. Nyame is the Ashanti sky and fertility god. the rain source for his wife Arase ya. 6 .thus.
Among the fon the supreme deity is Nana Buluku. producing the later Yoruba pantheon. The Yoruba sky god is the aloof Olorun. his twin children Mahu and Lisa – female and male. maintain life by controlling the deities who embody aspect of nature. Dan. The gods of this pantheon represent various phenomena and human activities. history and customs. Olokun. Africans have been able to find their world – view and have made intellectual attempt to understand the phenomenon with which they continually live as Africans. These were Obatala of the sky and Odudua of the earth. Their son. fertility and venality – establish balance in the world. Some their union came dry and wet trail. The concept of African mythology is to justify the African wisdom and thus the African scholars find their creature impetus in myth. which produced Orungan. who made live to his mother. In the light of this mythical concepts. earth and sky. who load children by the primordial waters. The 7 .
it educate African about the details of African cosmological beliefs. it is this realization that brings about deification.imprint of myth in the African worldview cannot be obliterated. their meaning and their origins. ancestors. there is need to maintain a perfect and cordial relationship between himself and the gods. flood etc.3 THE YORUBA PERCEPTION OF MYTH The Yoruba cosmogony revolves essentially around the belief in gods. And they being aware of both physical and natural threats like war. most of the divinities are supposed to have been men and to have been exhausted for their heroic deeds to the admiration and effection of the people. farming drought. spirits and taboos. realize the need to appease 8 . For a typical Yoruba man. 1. The Yoruba society like any other African society comprises mainly of farmers and hunters whose means of livelihood depend mostly on proceeds from the land and forest. Therefore he believes that in order to maintain societal status quo.
ranging from inanimated to animated things. taboos. songs etc. It is the priest or priestress as the case may be. and protection from their adversaries. that heeds in the ritual act. folktales. Modern African playwrights in their bid to present what can be characterized as a true African drama dive into the history and background of the people which are manifested in their myth. economic. 9 . The rituals mostly contain sacrifice. religious. they developed festivals and rituals which most of the time involves a symbolic enactment of the life of some of the gods. Sacrifices are made to the gods with things that are peculiar to each of them.and propitiate the spirits and gods of the land at the appropriate time. They attempt to depict the sociological. The people regard the priests and priestesses as representatives of the gods. which is the acknowledged means of propitiation and purification. In their bid to achieve all these. for good harvest fruitful hunting. legend. proverbs. political.
One example of such playwrights is Amos Tutuola. One definite theme is that death is not an end but a transition. early in the story be pays Death himself a visit and tricks Death into falling into a net.cultural and ethical beliefs of the people vis-à-vis their norms and values. “The Palm-wine Drinkard” uses mythology and symbolism to explore various aspect of death. making perfect use of his knowledge about the Yoruba cosmos. 10 . The drunkard faces death many times and in many ways but lives through the experiences. In fact. so that Death can not go back home again. p. 199). who.4 THE PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY The importance of studying this text is based on mythology. he has no permanent place to dwell or stay and we are hearing this name about in the world (Chapter 1. wrote “The Palm-wine Drinkard”. “So since that day that I had brought Death out from his house. 1.
It is usual to hear that these tale express the “traditional sensibility” of an “African” world view and offer a window into the inchoate and frightening world of the primitive imagination. these tales could be as horrific. and lots of it. In the oral tradition the folktale . His father provides him with a palm-wine tapper who keeps him 11 . Because they were intended for entertainment and instruction. frightening and bizarre as the inauguration could render them. So general statement would be quite misleading. “The Palm-wine Drinkard” tells the story of a young man whose sole occupation is in drinking palm-wine. They require the willing suspension of belief.a rural and cautionary story but clearly recognized as fiction and entertainment – had free range of this random and arbitrary world. The story and the narrative and visionary techniques reflect one particular and identifiable aspect of a complex and sophisticated tradition.
5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES The most significant aim of myth is based on the element of supernatural and mysteries.supplied when the palm-wine tapper dies. The writing style gives it a very unique and different feel which really adds to the folktale feel and makes it seem more real. Thus modern African playwrights rely heavily on these apparatus to create the desired effects in their text. gods. In traditional African literature most of things done are shrouded in mysterious. saves many people. 1. Through his journey he tricks men. the palm-wine drinkard decides to undertake a journey to find him. and ends up meeting all kinds of different ghosts and creatures. African modern literature in its 12 . and ghosts. The story is fantastic and well worth the read. This is done to create fear in bath the minds of the reader. The story is told in Nigerian English as it existed when Tutuola wrote the book.
the teller emphasise the variety of myths. while on the other hand. there is tendency to deal with myth in term of general theory of man that may be inspired biologically. Efforts are made on one hand to father the inner meaning of myth because of the authoritative. focus on myth as one general factor in human thought. The former aim at the most general statement. psychologically or any other way. relies on costuming which has to correspond with the culture and belief of the Africans. final pronouncement. 13 . Myth present extraordinary events without trying to justify them. indeed revelatory function they have for human existence.attempt to capture the mystic effects of the traditional literature. The original Greek term for myth (mythos) denotes “word” in the sense of a decisive. people have sometimes assumed that myth are simply unprovable and false stories and thus have made the word a synonym for fable.
sharing the same sociocultural background with the playwright. 1. the present researcher has a good insight into the study. however. does not make 14 . This. All survey of myth scholarship done by inquests. Even a simple rehearsing of the arguments that has taken place would lead us far away from our topic. folklorists and literary critics reveal that a concensus of what the term ‘myth’ means has never seen achievement within any of these fields let alone among them. There is no doubt. so we will need to accept for the time being the working definition of myth in this work.However. in fact. through indept study of myth was discovered that there are distinct differences between myth and fable.6 METHODOLOGY The study is purely applied research. it is based on an extensive library research of published and unpublished materials. anthropologists.
The study shall be divided into four chapters: Chapter one states the rationale behind the study and it also spells out the scope. the present researcher shall also adopts a form of comparative study of the text. mythological icons in Amos Tutuola’s “The Palm-wine Drinkard”. the last chapter. shall focus on Amos Tutuola myth. concludes the study. 15 . Chapter four. Chapter two is review of relevant literature on nature of Amos Tutuola’s text. To really do justice to this pre-occupation. “The Palm-wine Drinkard” shall be critically and analytically examined base on the above topic.7 SCOPE OF STUDY This study. 1.the study a basic research rather it is an applied research of critical examinations of Amos Tutuola’s mythic text. however. organization and methodology of the study. whilst in chapter three we shall examine the mythological element in Tutuola’s work. One of his text.
His best – known work is “The Palm-wine Drinkard” (1952). he sent the young boy to the salvation Army primary school. an Ibe man. He was a Nigerian writer. Instead of paying Tutuola money. one of his father’s cousins took him to live with F. He had only six years of formal schooling and wrote in English and outside the mainstream of Nigerian literature.8 PLAYWRIGHTS AUTOBIOGRAPHY Amos Tutuola was born 1920. and worked as a houseboy for a government clerk. Monu. and Village Witch Doctor (1990). as a servant. Tutuola hoard his first folk stories at his speaking mother’s knee when he was about 7 years old.1. He attended tages High School for a year. Abeokuta. Nigeria. a classic quest tale that was the first Nigerian book to achieve international fame. O. Yoruba Folktales (1986). His 16 . His later works include the tale The Witch – Herbalist of the Remote Town (1981). His stories incorporated Yoruba myths and legends into loosely constructed prose epics that improvised on traditional themes.
and messengering for the Nigerian Department of Labour. but was largely his own. “The Palm-wine Drinkard”. and stores a number of other vocations. Tutuola had to end his studies. but his crop failed and he moved to Lagos in 1940. The book was based on Yoruba folklore. “The Palm-wine Drinkard” and His Dead Palm in Tapster in the Dead’s Town by Amos Tutuola is the novel that gained Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola acclaim in the west and criticism at home. during World War II he worked for the Royal. within a few days – “I was a story teller when I was in the school”. he later said. Next year he married Victoria Alake. 17 . He tried his luck as a farmer. In 1946 Tutuola completed his first full – length book.father Died in December 1938. Air forces as a blacksmith. including selling bread.
this novel has provided many with their first glimpse into Yoruba folklore “The 18 . then pursued the blacksmith trade. After the War Tutuola had to take a job as a messenger. and it gave him time. He served as a coppersmith in the West African Air Corps of the British military in World War II. His first novel. Indeed. “The Palm-wine Drinkard” and his Dead Palm-wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town. The work is classified as a novel. A landmark work. it was the first novel to be published by a Nigerian author. though stylist and vivid. to write down stories he had heard. writing. since “The Palm-wine Drinkard” incorporates so much oral tradition. but there has been some debate about whether this designation is accurate. became the subject of much controversy because of its frequently ungrammatical. He later tried his hand at farming without success.Amos Tutuola achieved only sixth grade education due to financial constraints following his father’s death. and also the first novel by a black African to be written in English. between errands.
which has been another source of controversy.Palm-wine Drinkard” draws heavily on traditional folktales. prompting some claim that the work plagiarizes the intellectual property of the Yoruba people. 19 .
action. The Oxford English Dictionary defines myth “as a purely fictitious narrative usually involving supernatural persons. or events and embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena” myth is a collective term used for one kind of “symbolic communication and specifically indicates one basic form of religious symbolism as distinguished from symbolic behaviour (cult. Myth occurs in the history of all human traditions and communities and it is a basic constituent of human culture.1 NATURE OF MYTH Distinguished philosophers and folklorists represent opposite extremes in the study of myth. ritual) and symbolic places or objects”. 20 .CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2. Myths in (plural) are specific account concerning gods or superhuman beings and extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is altogether different from that or ordinary human experience.
says that myths “are accounts with an absolute authority that is implied rather than stated. yet basic to the world”. life and death. It is properly distinguished from legend and allegory but often used vauely to include any narrative having fictitious elements. truth and falsehood good and evil”. The time in which the related events take place is altogether different from the ordinary historical time of human experience (and in most cases in un arrangenable long ago). they relates events and states of affair surpassing the ordinary human world. The actors in the narratives are usually gods or other extra ordinary beings such 21 . Every myth presents itself as authoritative and always as an account of fact no matter how completely different they may be from ordinary world.Wole Soyinka describes it as “a continuous source of the knowledge needed for critical problems in man’s existence: war and peace. 1 Rigther Williams in Myth and Literature.
22 .as animals. about their cities. Echero attaches much importance to myth partly because it gives form and meaning to experience. It is obvious that he is concerned with the Aristotelian unified plot structure. gives clear outlines to dramatic action whose sequence of events is invariably of a deliberate kind” from this talk of a pattern of ordered events. with logical cause and effect progressive in time. 3 Butcher also says that: Myth is the unwritten literature of an early people whose instinctive language was poetry. 2 Frazer in the Golden Bough says that “myths are reenactment in figurative language of events once acted out in magical ceremonies”. Myth he argues. It has their philosophy their history and it is enshrined in both their conscious and unconscious theories of life. It recorded all they know about their own past. plants or specific of real men who changed human condition with their deeds.
families. According to G. the moon. wind and earth. by the possession of a particular narrative quality to tendency to be experienced on special kinds of occasions rather than by something essential to the concept of myth itself. What remains may turn out to be a class of phenomenon grouped formally. S. Dirk. myths are of vague and uncertain category and one man’s myth is another man’s saga. legend or folktale. What we need to decide is the basis upon which the term myth need to decide is the basis upon which the term myth can be applied to general consent and that will entail separating instances for which doing other terms are preparable description. the geographical movement of their tribes and the exploits of their ancestors. One of the theories about myth is that all myth are about natural phenomenon. The greatest exponents of this theory is Max Muller who thought that myth were found through a misunderstanding of 23 . that is the sum.
The myth of the sky being forcibly separated from the earth. however. It is also possible to 24 . yet it is obvious that some myth are concerned with such matters. however.names especially those attached to celestial objects. institution. that the world might exist between them is an example of nature myth. It is possible. seem absurd. He proposed that myths should be considered as characters for customs. It may. strongly objected to the theory that myths are allegories of nature. to stress the scared character of myth and therefore its uniqueness. or beliefs. “Isidore Okpewho in Myth in Africa: A Study Its Aesthetic and Culture Relevance. By this theory Okpewho meant something close to explanation in a loose sense but devoid of theoretical qualities what this theory implies is that in a traditional society every custom and institution tends to be validated or confirmed by myth which states a precedence for it but does not seek to explain it in any logical sense.
Many of which shares in one or more of the features of myth without being mythical. resemble myth. The time suggested by fairy tales. Fairy tales or folktales tell of extraordinary being and events and in that respect. legends etc. like fable. Whereas the typical fairy tales or folktales open with “Once upon a time …” the typical myth begins with “in the beginning ………” folktales carry no authority like myth and even if sometimes a moral is presented. folktales. it is useful to venture comparison and contrast with other manifestation of oral literature. Which ever way one learns. in the delineation of myth. saga. though differ remarkably in other respects. the outstanding quality is entertainment thus we can see that these narrative differs from myth even though they also allude to some supernatural things. 25 . is the time of man’s ordinary experience. fairy tales.describe and list theories of various accounts and thus place myth and other narrative side by side.
they are not aristocratic in nature. Fable on the other hand can be referred to as fictitious or untrue story about animal and other animated things. however. their social pre-occupation are restricted to the families for entertainment and in some cases didactic that is importing some moral values.Folktales are concerned essentially with life and problems of ordinary people. nor altogether different times as in the case of myth). Saga are tales with claim to truth and in that respect. The time of action. Like myth. they resemble myth. it originated from Greek word (mythos) prominent among the Yoruba is the fable about tortoise and its cunning ways. 26 . They are not concerned with target problem like the incentaility of death or institution matters like the justification of kingship. The protagonists in saga are usually great ancestor of the race or rotation. is a specific time in the past (not unspeaed as in fairytales.
cultural. They are ultimately. though that reality is necessarily revealed in objective correlatives tens that we can recognize. ancients of deep complex and half felt elements of human nature and that is why they are told against a distant background. All myth offer a cause or explanation of something in the world. In a typical African society.The nature of myth was simply that the gods become more and more like human beings and were supposed to be more directly involved in human affairs. biological and spiritual facts are explained by myth. The beliefs and values of the society the entrenched in myth thus. Myths make use of magical features to influence the world. social. the natural. it is significant in traditional system of education. Myth represents an historical inner reality of the people. 27 . The function of narration and explanation go together.
But things behave very differently from even these European garquyles in Tutuola’s 28 . Kafka’s inconclusive parable or Alice in wonder hand. 5 Jason weaver says. Thus myth is capable of describing when persons using reason and observation can never see for themselves. the end of the world. Myth can describe that origin of the world. Aside from the transmogrifield strangeness of folk and fairy tales. Amos Tutuola’s 1952 novel The palm-wine drinkard is unlike almost anything else in print. which state that they originated in the sacred world of the gods. Nebulous comparisons naught be made with Orid’s metamorphoses. a great number of myths answer question about nature and foundation of ritual and cultic customs. The descriptive function of myth linked with the authoritative presentation of facts that transcend ordinary reason and observation. Dynasties and ruling families of the world found justification of their position in myth.Furthermore.
“The Red-people in the Red Town” 29 . All laws of the probably are flauted and everything is elastic. make them what they are for brently. places and things are named by their description. enchanting and a little spooky. What everyone knows is that David Byrne and Brian Eno named their album of bricotage and technological tribalism after Tutuola’s second novel “My life the Bush o9f Ghost” both claimed they had never actually read the book. I know nothing about the author’s own relationship to Nigerian culture I would rather meet him as a stranger on the road.twilight world. but it would have been a wholly appropriate influence in Brians ‘stop making sense lying and the circuit breaking Eno. Details are hasty and sketched and sentence often end with a blunt “etc.” Thing are most often described by the element s that mark them out. What is so vital about the palm-wine Drunkard is Tutuola’s absolute dedication to the fantastic.
a decade passes in a sentence. a drunken logic. Events are compressed. The tapster dies in a fall from a palm tree. The hero of this “brief. and our hero is unable to find a suitable replacement. appropriately. It is. 30 . thronged. grisley and bewitching story”. “When I saw that there was no palm-wine for me again. 6 Dylan Thomas Says. and nobody could tap it for me. time collapses.or rather wonderfully. The latter is a bore cranium that lures body parts and a nice suit and poses in the market place as a kind of Bryan Ferry in order to lure pretty young women. is a devoted drinker of palmwine… So devoted that drinking palm-wine is his only occupation his father lures an expert tapster to supply his son with drink. one day disaster strikes. The skull as a complete Gentleman”. and before long he is drinking (with some help from his friends) a total of 225 kegs of palm-wine a day.
then I thought within myself that old people were saying that the whole people who had died in this world. but they were living in one place somewhere in this world. 7 David Amason says. steeped in Yoruba story telling traditions but peppered with modern-day references. crowded with strange monsters and improbable event told with perfect sincerity. this tale violates dozens of grammatical rules and novelistic conventions yet provides in abundance the one indispensable quality of literature: it is alive. did not go to heaven directly. and entrenched with psychologically charged imagery that would make even a non-Freudian sit up and take notice. So begins this unusual small epic. So that I said that I would find out where my palm-wine tapster who had died was”. written by a civil service messenger with six years of elementary education. 31 .
and was an immediate and smashing success. making their aspirations toward progress. Most western critics deny that they treat Tutuola and condescendingly. and that he was read with condescension. This was balanced by Tutuola’s cool reception by Nigerian critics.Tutuola’s style was the chief appeal to outsiders. there might appear to be little evidence of patterning … Indeed what seems to be a clear instance of the absence of form is the introduction of the tale of the quarrel between 32 . 8 Paul Edwards says. and attempt to prove their point by treating Nigerian critics with condescension. The Palm-wine Drinkard burst onto the world literary scene in 1952. and apart from its archetypal form of the quest. [The Palm-wine Drinkard] is more commonly admired for its free – running fancy than for anything that could be called its structure.
who pushed for the novel’s publication – praised 33 . making poetic use of the idioms of the unlettered. Tutuola’s novel also marks the emergency of debates about what African literature should be like. It is appropriate that the founder of a literature should be a working class man. 10 Layren Grantz says. But I suggest that it might be less arbitrary than it appears.earth and heaven into the novel’s closing pages. n. Anyone who enjoys Nigerian writing in English must salute Amos Tutuola. the man who made the breakthrough in 1952 with The Palm-wine Drinkard. 9 D. a. an early school – leaven. Western literary figures – most significantly Dylan Thomas. Jones says. Tutuola was like a seventeenth just century the Welshman who had discovered sweetness of the English tongue.
the novel gained more critical responses. Tutuola’s work depicts the travels of its titular character. the self-described “palm-wine drunkard”. Tutuola’s protagonist was such a tremendous thirst for wine 34 . and a protagonist who claims to drink “Palm wine from morning till night” led some Nigerian intellectuals to worry that the book fell into European stereotypes of “backward” and “shiftless” Africans. which must be collected by a tapper. Despite this initial controversy. in Tutuola’s native Nigeria. superstition. palm-wine is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm tree. However. The “exoticism” of The Palm-wine Drinkard made it a phenomenon throughout Europe. Tutuola’s use of “pidgin” English. where it was road in over a dozen languages. For those unfamiliar with the beverage. later Nigerian writers such as Chimia Achebe embraced the text and encouraged leaders to reconsider the novel.Tutuola’s unique prose style and use of Yoruba oral tradition.
that he must employ “an expert palm-wine tapster” who taps over two – hundred kegs of the drink per day. Unfortunately for the drinkard, one day his tapster falls from a palm tree and dies. No other tapster can satisfy his thirst for wine, so the drunkard seeks the wisdom of the elderly in his village who were saying that the whole people who had died in this world, did not go to heaven directly, but they were living in one place somewhere in this world”. Believing that his tapster resides in “Deads Town”, the Drinkard summons all his “juju, or magic, and set hoping to find and re-employ the dead man. Early readers focused extensively in Tutuola’s use of the English language, debating whether or not it was appropriately literary. While Dylan Thomas called Tutuola’s prose a “Young English” and enthusiastically endorsed the text, Nigerian critics considered it “broken English” that merely reinforced conception of African primitive. To be sure, when compared to the works of other Anglophone African authors such as Achebe or Wole Soyinka,
Tutuola’s prose does ring strange. However, this reviewer agrees with Michael Thelwell’s suggestion in his introduction to Tutuola’s novel that the author employs “an English whose vocabulary is bent and twisted into the service of a different language’s nuances”. As readers grow accustomed to the prose, it becomes clear that Tutuola’s is neither a “young” nor a “broken” English, but rather a Yoruba – English that operates with a rhythm and interval logic all its own. This makes for fascinating read, and students of linguistics or oral literatures would likely find this aspect of Tutuola’s novel fruitful for research. Tutuola’s Yoruba – English is also significant given that it speaks to the blending of cultures and languages that permeates the novel as a whole. For while most of the text has its grounding in traditional Yoruba tales, there are also numerous moments that reveal the colonial situation from which the novel emerged; comparison utilizing twentieth century
military technology such as bombs and planes, and references to the Christian god merge readily with Yoruba inspire spirits and duties. Writing almost a decade prior to Nigeria’s independence, Tutuola appropriates from various vocabularies as best serves his purpose, crafting a tale that offers a glimpse into Nigeria’s traditional heritage and its then colonial present. While it has been nearly sixty years since its original publication, The Palm-wine Drinkard still proves a rich text for analyses by students of African and post-colonial literatures. Tutuola became the first Nigerian writer to achieve international recognition. This adaptation of Yoruba folktales into nonstandard English represents one of the first works of its kind, and Tutuola is credited with founding a uniquely African literary form. Influencing critical reception of the Palm-wine Drinkard was the early appearance of a laudatory review by Dylan Thomas, and the ensuing critical attention gave Tutuola’s work a cultlike status in the western world. Nigerian critics,
and has sudden insights which enable him to live a more pious life. confronts spirits from the underworld. received comparatively less attention but established him as a consistently skillful story teller. Tutuola did not publish until the recent appearance of The Witch – Herbalist of the Remote Town (1982). Tutuola’s works usually concern a naïve or moral weak character who is either inspired or forced to embark on a spiritual journey. Tutuola’s next five works. Tutuola’s works have been called mythologies or epics rather than novels. were skeptical of Tutuola’s skill and complained that his work was both ungrammatical and unoriginal. and symbolic plots. he often encounters danger. a Yoruban chronicler of tales in the vernacular. During this journey.however. Ajaiyi and His Inherited Poverty (1967). all derived from oral tales and written in English. An early Tutuola critic. being unduly similar to the work of D. allegorical characters. After his fifth work. analysed 38 . O. Fagunwa. Gerald Moore. Because of the spiritual themes.
comparing mythological patterns occurring in literature throughout the world. Other critics have also recognized in Tutuola’s literary quests elements similar to those of 10John Bunyan’s pilgrim’s progress and other important quest literature says. However. in search of a potion to render his wife 39 . In The Witch – Herbalist of the Remote Town. Since Tutuola was formally educated only through the six grade. they attribute these similarities to Tutuola’s knowledge of Yoruban oral tales. It is his reliance on traditional stories which prompted well – educated Nigerians to question Tutuola’s originality. other respected critics maintain that Tutuola adapts and expands the legendary sources to create original versions.Tutuola’s use of mythology. most critics consider a conscious emulation of world mythology unlikely. Rather. Tutuola again follows the mythological pattern of the quest theme. which have universal themes as their basis. The story’s protagonist.
Occasionally. and imaginative qualities of his first works. but it may be inferred. wild. shrubby landscape through which the drinker of palm-wine (a naturally alcoholic beverage that is tapped directly from trees) travels during most of the novel.fertile. African bush. The setting is never specifically stated. symbolic. he and his wife discover a road. The author is Nigerian. The protagonist undergoes mental changes which Tutuola depicts through physical transformations and allegorical confrontations between the protagonist and the various aspects of his personality. meets with children from the spirit world. There is overwhelming agreement that Tutuola has here maintained the philosophic. but they are soon driven back into the uncharted bush. The setting is either West Africa or a magical landscape that physically resembles West 40 . and he incorporates Yoruba myths and legends into his loosely connected narrative.
But Amos Tutuola offers no explanations and so the reader is left in the dark. Their works portrays 41 . Wole Soyinka and Femi Osofisan are into the African past with different attitudes to myth and history. the writer has got unimaginable way of thinking in his brain. It is in style and contexts very similar to the numerous myths relayed by Joseph Campbell in his volumes of mythology. When I started reading the story itself. The Palm-wine Drinkard is a myth and cannot really be read as a novel. I found a class of literature that was completely different from East and West. more a collector of stories.Africa. This is not merely a folk tell. The book is so interesting that you can’t stop reading until it is finished. Though Tutuola did not consider himself a writer. the masks of God. When you read the first paragraph of the text you will find you are shocked.
42 . He portrays how human beings are just tools in the hands of the gods and vividly shows that man’s destiny is controlled by the gods.a deep concern and yearning for myth as an instrument and source of inspiration for example Wole Soyinka draws inspiration from myth of Ogun while Femi Osofisan concerns him self with reinterpreting myth for revolutionary purpose. In some of his works he perfectly brings out the relationship between human beings and gods. to Drante. to the journey of Odyseus”. that is trying to find solution to the vices in the society. Clark uses myth as a way of confirming or reaffirming the authencity of mysterious surrounding the gods and supernatural powers that are beyond the control of ordinary human being. P. J. This is shown in all their text. to Bounyan’s pilgrim’s progress. Margaret Laurence notes that the book “has been compared to orphans in the underworld.
11 Chinua Achebe (in the frist Equiano Memorial lecture) calls Tutuola “the most muralist of all Nigerian writers”.Gerald Moore says that all of the author’s “heroes or heronries follow out one variant or another of the cycle of the heroic monomyth. Thus: … arrarchy is held at bay and a traveler who perseveres can progress from one completed task to the domain of another and in the end achieve the creative. departure. initiation and return”. 43 . moral purpose in the extra – ordinary but by no means arbitrary universe of Tutuola’s story. there are always boundaries to a monster’s power. The Palm-wine Drinkard describes the consequences of inverting work and play. and though the events are grotesque and surreal.
Amos Tutuola uses myth to explain happenings in everyday life in the society Soyinka moves from historical contemporaries into myth. Myth therefore. Ngugi Wa Thiongo. Olu Obafemi.2. In Osofisan’s use of myth and legend become elastic. Wole Soyinka. Niyi Osundare. Femi Osofisan. transmitted and completely created to suit contemporary events. Amos Tutuola squeezes myth. legend and history to extract only the tangible aspects as can source his own vision. provides an avenue for illustrating the contradictory aspects of society. Each writers has a pattern of examining the African mythology. both from the positive and negative perspectives. etc.2 THE INFLUENCE OF MYTHOLOGY ON AFRICAN CREATIVE WRITERS African creative writers have equally felt the urge to utilize this cultural phenomenon and amongst these writers are Amos Tutuola. 44 . Isiodore Okpewho.
and it is clearly shown in the first type because all myths are stories which depend heavily on narrative technique for their creation and preservation. These techniques together with the artists creativity cause them to be more entertaining for any purpose 45 . one can learn how different societies have answered basic questions about the world and the individual’s place in it. It is through this that people learn how a particular or significant societal system with its custom and beliefs. That this typology is schematic is obvious enough. the second is operative.2. The following might be suggested as a simplified not working typology and mythical functions. The first type is primarily narrative and entertaining. iterative and validatory and third is speculative and explanatory.3 ESSENCE AND FUNCTION OF MYTHOLOGY IN THE AFRICAN SOCIETY Myth is very essential to human race and it is globally accepted by all cultures. By studying myth.
Various myth of different cultures are compared so as to discover how cultures differ and how they resemble one another. is the ‘historical relationship’ and this occurs when similar mythical stories develop among cultures that do not share a common origin. Mythical stories could be compared on the basis of its generic. Generic relationships among such stories are based on the way people react to common features in their environment. the society breaks up into several separate societies. Genetic relationships is the case whereby a large society may develop a particular myth then. each of which develop its own version of the myth. for some reasons. is usually rare because it belongs to the special genre of folktales and legends and it is preserved as relics of the past.that they are meant for. or historical relationships. in its own case. genetic. 46 . The last. The second typology. in the companion of myth.
47 .Myth is very essential to the human community because it happens to be the invincible foundation of social life and cultural continuum. It educates the world about the details of various cosmological beliefs. their meanings and their origin.
Past and present literary works by African writers shows that the cultural. Some of the reasons adduced for this biased assertion … indude the belief that African societies are devoid of complexities and challenges of life due to lack of western education. political. sociological economic and ethical welfare of the Africans are entrenched in these systems and beliefs which revolve around myths.CHAPTER THREE ELEMENTS OF MYTH IN AMOS TUTUOLA THE PALM-WINE DRINKARD Traditional African societies have by and large normally been referred to as primitive societies by the western scholars. But contrary to this erroneous belief is the fact that African. are rich in complex symbolism and wide scope for the individual to express his own insight and awareness of human existence. Myths occur in the history and traditions of the African communities. they are the basic 48 .
truth and falsehood good and evil. African playwright employ the use of myths acts to pass their message across to 49 .constituents upon which it existence is based. Virtually all facets of human endeavouring and linked with one myth or the other. Essential there are myths about the creation of earth and all the living things. Among the Yorubas there are various types of myths created to bridge the gap between the early race and the present generation. There are also myths defining the relationship between the people and the gods. life and death. They also act as continuous source of the knowledge needed for actual problems in the people’s day to day activities. Literarily. war and peace. Myths are also created to institutionalized events and issues so as for them to have permanent effect in the people. Most of the past and present African plays and prose brave there root in the antecedent myths and ritual performances. ancestors and other supernatural beings. myths play important role in Africa.
In The Palm-wine Drinkard Amos Tutuola present the mortal tendencies in the immortals. Amos Tutuola is one typical example of these African writers. He present the relationship as one that need almost loyalty and denotion from the people to the gods. myth act as embellishments used in bringing out the desired aesthetic values in the text. he relies heavily on myths to creatively present the past deeds and events in his text. While exolting the sacred nature of the gods. In the text the writer show us that even though the god possessed supernatural powder 50 . Some African writers have been able to perfectly make use of myth to present their works. As a traditionalist. In most of his work he vividly brings into focus the beliefs of the Yorubas as regards their relationship with the gods. he also in some of his work portrays them (the gods) as not being free of fraulities that are known with lesser beings. plague with strife. struggling for supremacy. He presents the human sides of the gods.their readers. Not only thus.
This deity is ranked next to the supreme being because of the function of moulding human beings that is attributed to him. these men become gods and the people now turn to them for protection and guidance. They also believe that he has power to shape man’s destiny. The Yoruba believe that Obatala is the most senior of all the gods. they (the gods) are not free or immune against some of other human vices. Coupled with this is the placing of the gods in hierarchical order according to their status and functions. The Yoruba believe that the gods were ones men who have got deified because of their past heroic deeds and actions. The text The Palm-wine Drinkard is based on the myth of how gods came from somewhere to inhabit the earth with the people. A general overview of the Yoruba cosmogony shows that the gods are attributed with specific and peculiar deeds. In death.that makes man to be subservient to them. 51 .
horrific imagery (e. and other creatures have their genesis in Europe. The Palm-wine Drinkard’ is an African tale in it pure unadulterated form. 52 . armies of dead babies) the words are unflinching. or can be traced even further back to ancient Indo – European cultures (of course. almost childlike voice … yet in the face of wild.A seldom – discussed aspect of cultural anthropology is the metamorphosis of our fairy – tales … the imaginative currency of early youth which are passed on through family and social structures alike. ghosts. And its not something you’d want to hear before bedtime! Amos Tutuola writes an English which lends the narration a wide – eyed. In America. characters like witches. we have our own indigenous tales as well). that they’ve lost a lot of their original cultural meaning or relevance. These characters and stones have became so diluted over the years.g.
dive into their past using myth.Tutuola Amos also used folklore in his text. Folklore is the traditional beliefs. It is also known as folklife. practices. songs (etc) of a people. attempts are made to project and exalt the customs and beliefs of the Africans. customs. Myth is particular acts as a channel through which the past is being linked with the present. In their works. jokes. handed down orally or behaviourally from individual to individual. With myth. legend etc as guide. folktales. the writers creatively fashion but the relevance and usefulness of people’s past events. Some African writers are greatly influenced by the cultural and traditional system of the Africans. These writers in their attempt to depict the lives of the people. Amos Tutuola as an African playwright derives his inspiration from the culture and tradition of the Africans in Yoruba context. stories. In almost all his works he exalt the virtues and values inherent in the people’s beliefs and norms. He 53 .
The Yoruba cosmogony is rooted in the belief in gods and other supernatural being. They believe that the gods act as intermediary between them and the Supreme Being.emphasize the use of myth to unravel the mysteries surrounding customs and traditions of the Africans. The nature and characteristics of these gods are explicit in the people’s mythology. blessing and protection against all natural and physical threats. He emphasizes the supremacy of the gods 54 . The Yorubas look up to the gods for guidance. Through mythology he is able to dive into the background of the Yoruba cosmogony thereby bringing out the gesthetic value inherent in it. In a typical Yoruba setting. rites festivals are the various ways the people employ to get in contact with the gods. He employs the use of mythology to portray the beliefs and relationship of the people with gods and ancestors. the gods and supernatural beings are hold in great reverence. Divices like rituals sacrifices.
The Palm-wine Drinkard rescues a beautiful woman from a “complete gentleman” with rented body parts. the tapster gives them a magical egg. The hero’s name is “father of gods who could do anything in this world” one day he sets out “to find out whereabouts was my tapster who had died”. Thus begins a surreal journey through an African underworld. They are captured by a giant who tosses them into a bag when they finally arrive at the Deads’ town. he asserts the vulnirality of both the gods and the people. They sell their “death” and lend out their “fear”. The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town and so on. In some of his text like The Palm-wine Drinkard. which describes an epic quest with mythic elements drawn from Yoruba folktales.over human being. After he marries her. They return to the land of the living when the hero 55 . The subtitle pvodies an accurate glimpse into this strange book. He turns himself into a canoe. which his wife paddles across a river. the woman who gives birth to a fully grown child from her thumb.
he had a large mouth which was full of long teeth. All laws of the probable are flouted and everything is elastic. his head was bigger than his body ten times. his body was almost core red with black long hair like a horse’s tail hair.changes himself into a pebble and throws himself across a river. Details are hasty and sketched and sentences often end with a blunt “etc”. If the languages were brushed up. He was very dirty. these teeth were about one front long and as thick as a cow’s horns. 56 . The Palm-wine Drinkard is an excellent example of the heroic journey informed by traditional African story telling and folktales. the book would not be the same. The journey is so phantasm gone that the imperfect English becomes a key element. At home they put an end to a famine.s absolute dedication to the fantastic. Here’s a typical passage: His finger nails were long to about two feet. What is so vital about The Palm-wine Drinkard is Tutuola.
rather wonderfully. On the way. “The Hungry – Creature” and “The Faithful – Mother in the White Tree is a kind of hotel – cum – hospital with a great ballroom. uses all kind of Juju and meets incredible characters such as “The Invisible Pawn”. “The Skull as a Complete Gentleman”. follows the eldest of eight children. as he puts it. He is an expert and drink 225 kegs of it a day. the drinkard finds up a wife. Scale is immaterial in the bush. places and things are named by their description: “The Red People in the Red Town” or. The drunkard is supplied by a tapster who falls fatally from a tree and because nobody can tap palm-wine as well as this character. is to drink palm-wine. It 57 . make them what they are. The plot such as it is. His “work”. the narrator sets off for Deads’ Town to find his posthumous incantation. For brenty. He cannot even drink plain water any more.Things are most often described by the elements that mark them out.
The tapster dies in a fall from a palm tree. The hero of this brief thronged. One day disaster strikes. then I thought within myself that old people were saying that the whole people who 58 . His father hires an expert tapster to supply his son with drink. Oral traditions enforce that each retelling of a story will mutate it according to personal and local bias and that the most mnemonic elements will carry from one teller to the next.is like a mutilated episode of “In the Night Garden” or an adventure from “The Mighty Bush”. So devoted that drinking palm-wine is his only occupation. The transmission of folktales follows evolutionary principles. “When I saw that there was no palm-wine for me again. and our hero is unable to find a suitable replacement. grisley and bewitching story. and before long he is drinking (with some help from his friends) a total of 225 kegs of palm-wine a day. is a devoted drinker of palm-wine. “as the Poet Dylan Thomas called it. and nobody could tap it for me.
The Palm-wine Drinkard. and I met a small rolling drum in his verandah. Death commands the drum strings to tighten around the drunkard retaliates with his juju by making the ropes of the yams in his garden” tighten around Death. sets out from village to village in search of his tapster. “When I reached his (Death’s) house. They released each other. Annoyed to be visited by a living man. After seven months he meets an old man who is actually a god. armed with a supply of juju. then I beat it to Death as a sign of salutation”. but they were living in one place somewhere in this world. and 59 . he was not at home by that time.had died in this world. he was in his yam garden which was very close to his house. So that I said that I would find out where my palm-wine tapster who had died was”. did not go to heaven directly. and who promises to tell him where his tapster is if he will find the house of Death and bring him back in a net.
Many more adventures follow the drunkard rescues a beautiful young woman from a skull who has equipped himself as a “complete gentleman” by renting body parts from various other creatures.Death seeming to relent shows the drinkard around his property and gives him a bed for the night. After surviving another attempt to kill him the drunkard succeeds in capturing Death and hauls him back to the village of the old man. the hungry – 60 . The drunkard marries the young woman. They are helped by faithful – mother and by the benevolent creatures Drum. Dance and Song and threatened by the Invisible – Pawn. Death escaped. and we are hearing his name about in the world”. in unreturnable Heaven’s town. and before they reach the Deads’ Town they face dangers and challenges on wraith Island. and with the Red – People of Red – Town. and as a result “has no permanent place to dwell or stay. who had hoped to get rid of the drunkard and is shocked to see him still alive.
and by the eeric sight of 400 dead babies marching down a road with sticks in their hands. In all of these works the tone is mystical and pre-modern. While distinctly African. the great gift is an egg which would grant desires. the novel bears some resemblance to the magic realism work of South American writers such as Juan Rulfo and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. but told in the form of a narrative novel which is in essence a modern form. This odd and fascinating story sends the imagination in unexpected directions. this is a mighty gift which the protagonist wisely uses to combat the famine in his home. This contrast is a manifestation of the transition between traditional culture and the global trend towards modernity. but the greed of the community eventually damages 61 . The heavenly gift has regenerative power for the hero and the rest of the world when he returns from his guest. In the archetypal journey.creature. the hero wins a boon through succeeding with his quest. In the instance of The Palm-wine Drinkard.
At the same time. When the drunkard repairs the egg.the magic egg. the protagonist acts in even more heroic ways and has the strength to continue his journey because he has been given a guarantee in his life. Tutuola’s writing seems inherited from an oral background. Symbolically. the incredible and the memorable. This kind of death sets the stage for miraculous rebirth and awakening into a new life from this point on. Before he succeeds his guest a symbolic death and return occurs when the hero and his wife sell their deaths in the white tree. the setting is distinctly African. he uses it to punish the people for their destructiveness and gluttony Tutola’s story is understandable to many people because it employs an archetypal story of the heroic guest and uses many universal images. The Palm- 62 . the drunkard has overcome his concerns about mortality before he re-enter the world on his guest. Folktales are always tweaking the seeds. It shares the same splashy colour.
Within this overarching narrative are two main story lines. abbreviation. One impossible to convey in any other medium. The sparseness of descriptive details works on the reader. appeals to the reader and a series of charming and sometimes baffling banner headlines (“WHO WILL TAKE THE MOUSE?” and “AFRAID OF TOUCHING TERRIBLE CREATURES IN BAG”). Traditional African themes of fertility. reciprocity. like a parasite working on the cortex to produce vivid hallucinations. a vivid engagement with the imagination. These stylistic ties give the novel an even greater personality and (to this reader) more mystery and vitality. specifically as a 63 . even anime. very much a work of printed fiction. The book makes great use of parenthesis.wine Drinkard is an intensely visual story. Despite its compansons with other oral traditions. its use and abuse. and destruction. rather than transcription. The Palm-wine Drinkard is a text. the first concerning the attainment of the magic egg: the second.
in WE AND THE WISE KING IN THE WRONG TOWN WITH THE PRINCE KILLER. there are clear echoes of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before the sacrifice of the crucifixion. After that they were following us about the town. The tohosu baby born from a thumb rather than womb is voracious. a monstrous child that turns the natural order upside down is a striking and dramatic element. set firmly in the bush. “stronger than the whole 64 .direct result of greed are all on display here without the harshness of a work. “Then we mounted the horse. For example. they were beating drums. dancing. and singing …” Yet the story is also purely African. Since the Yoruba believe that life is preserved through children. Tutuola manages to integrate his Christian beliefs into his Yoruba heritage and work through problems of ethical reciprocity. There are many mirror elements in the narrative such as the Tohosu baby following the marriage of the narrator and another that follows the recalibrating of that marriage.
65 . This is one of the strongest ways that greed leading to destruction is illustrated and is retold in a different form near the end when the towns people become demanding.town” and a threat to the existence of every one the tohosu meets. voracious for the food produced by the magic egg.
in spite of any such division of labour. The population of the indigenous village society is usually homogenous. usually comprising only one ethnic or sub linguistic group. customs and habits which are manifested in the attitudes of the people to supernatural forces. This is opposed to the towns and cities which have a mixture of ethnic populations. There is division of labour usually according to sex. fishermen or livestock keeper or hunters.CHAPTER FOUR TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SOCIETAL OVERVIEWS AND CONCLUSION By definition. 66 . the inhabitants are usually farmers. However. In traditional African society. traditional African society refers to the indigenous African community as distinct from the European Influenced town or city in Africa today. there is homogeneity of ideas. depending on the natural geography of the location.
As far as an African is concerned there exists a constant communication between these stages. happens to be an important feature of the traditional African society. It is such attempt to preserve the culture and identity of the group. Religion. he thus become an ancestors to be worshiped.social relation. that has linked the contemporary traditional African society with the founding ancestors. there is no appreciable gulf between the world of the living and that of the dead. and their concept of supernatural. They believe for instance that Abiku or Ogbanje (child born to died repeatedly) could cross the threshold between life and death at will. Every socio – cultural phenomenon 67 . This means that the sense of community is very strong and every effort is made to keep it so and this is accomplished mainly through taboos. In Africa. which is strict adherence to ancestral traditions. entertainment and warfare. he simply moves away from the living into the world of the spirits. He believes that when an old man dies.
The African overview is based on their (Africans) general ideology. representations and beliefs system and all other parameters which sustain the society to all ramifications. In other words these values belief systems of representations in 68 . The prevalence of religious myths and rituals represent a reaction to the realities of living for the traditional African society. the function of intermediaries between the Africans and the Supreme Being who they regard as the creator of the universe and everything therein. These ancestor or gods as the case may be perform. The belief in the ancestors and the power is shaping even contemporary traditional African behaviour can be presented in much clearer terms.is usually conceived as originating from the ancestors or gods or at least requiring their sanction or approval. The economic. which encompasses set of values. social and moral persuits of people in these societies are objective in these myth which the priests and elders control.
It also brings about a traditionally based ideological concept amongst the Africans. As a means of livelihood Africans are generally agrarian in nature. poetry.firm or dictate the kind of economic. social. Apart from this 69 . This to a great extent influence their day to day activities. folktales. It incorporates values such as communism which has to do with the way people interrelate and there is only the idea of mythological modes which is also close to legend. proverbs. The mode of literary production implies the assemblage of materials and social relations as forces necessary for the transmission of literary experience to the audience. dance. They also more essentially dictate the nature artistic production. The mode of transmission in traditional African setting is oral in nature. etc. song. religious and political formation of the society. Oral literature is by definition dependent on a performer who formulates it in words on a specific occasion.
African society being a traditional one. 70 . African literature reflects the view of Africans about the world and can be appreciated and understood better when studied and placed within an African context and situation. cultural and ethical beliefs of the African. It also depict the sociological. religious. In traditional literature the composition and performance both occur simultaneously. considered it pertinent to appease the supreme being through the gods and seek for protection and guidance. African literature seeks to capture and mirror the life of the people as it relates to their norms and values. political.oral nature or artistic production. aware of their immediate and external environment which consist of both physical and natural threats. economic. there is no other way in which it can be realized as a literary product. comprised mainly of farmers and hunters whose livelihood depend mostly on proceeds from land and forest and they (the Africans) at the same time.
(that is an aggregate of myth. about mysteries and some other supernatural things. They are tales of adventures. The fact that African literature finds its subject mainly in folklore. It differences arises not because it find its origin in myth but as a result of the nature of the African society in particular which in itself differ from the greek and the European societies. legends.African literature also can be said to evolve from oral tradition of the people. heroic deeds of some people. 71 . Primarily it establishes the fact that African literature is a different land from those hither to encountered. proverbs etc) has a number of consequences for it. Oral literature can be said to be dependent on performers who formulates it in word on a specific occasion. It finds its subject mainly in folklore which include traditional belief and values of the African society. thereby bringing out the dramatic effect of it. Folktales are popular stories handed down orally from past generations.
have been good weapons in their hands 72 . Myth and culture. however. they “move back to their original culture and exploit their resources to produce work of great vitality. the basis of ancestral literature. they largely deploy the ancestral aspect of oral tradition to envice their diverse social vision and ideologies. writers that they share common background. This development. That is. the contemporary Nigerian literature have their text firmly rooted in Nigerian oral tradition still obsessed with “man’s need to redefine himself within his environment and to conquer and tame nature”.A fact holds amongst the contemporary Nigerian. is not unconnected with the new trend that permeates the whole of African written literature as affirmed by Anodiya: Certainly the most dominant trend in contemporary African literature is that of writers going back to their traditional roots to borrow from oral literature to enrich written literature. Like their predecessors.
73 . and myths themselves. They have been one of the richest sources of inspiration for literature and art throughout the world.via which they prode the activities in their societies as captured by Danmade that: Many African works are myths reinterpreted imaginatively. suffice it to define at this stage what mythology is. They deploy myths that are particular to their localities and those that with time. African writers observe keenly the events of our society and refrat them through the mirror of ancient mythologies. have assumed continental status. Mythology is the study of myths. with Usually myths beings are and concerned extraordinary events. For our better understanding of the above assertion. which are stories told as symbols of fundamental truths within societies having a strong oral tradition.
Noteworthy. in no small measure. not withstanding. is that: myth are central to mythology and myths serve as means of giving explanations to every inexplicable event in the society. to a greater extent. Thus the contemporary Nigerian literature. are poles apart. “myths are the means of conceptualizing and resolving all possible. in term of ideology. by the Western education they have acquired and this. Mean while. like other African literature. this ideological disparity. Quote obviously. in the above definition of mythology. unlike able social relationships and thus present the fundamental structures of human thought”. dictates their social vision and ideological beliefs. Hence. deploy myths as mirror to reflect the social vices in Nigeria.e. the two generations share what Obafemi referred to as “the common backcloth of the traditional theatrical performance”. unlike their predecessors (i. 74 . however. the two literary generation literature in Nigeria. “vernacular dramatists”) their exploration of myths are in thienced.
The first generation literature. On the other hand. “tends to offer metaphysical and tropic interpretations of social and mythical material”. they “articulate in their text a dialectical materialists perspective of art and society via an exciting view upon a critical relationship with indigenous culture”. 75 . the second generation literature writers anchor their writings based on the contemporary social problems in Nigeria with the aim of raising mass awareness of a positives revolutionary alternatives to the present decadence sequal to this. These they do by making “conscious efforts to propose a tropic mytho-ritual vision for society through art. Indicating their ideological disparity Obafemi says: What distinguishes these younger writers from their predecessors is their emphatic dedication to a revolutionary aim towards raising mass consciousness. on the one hand.
is not to make myths. holds the view that an artist can only discharge his artistic obligation to the society by making new myths: 76 . This duty. however offuserated that essences has been by the politician’s metoric. not to give society an identity but to make it aware of its essence. but to interpret them. the two generations. Soyinka argued. an epitome of second generation. in social vision and ideology. are distinct but the point still holds that they share the same Nigerian mythic background.Without a shadow of doubt. Conversely. Wole Soyinka. he must do even if politician are exploring propaganda to obscure mythic existence and meanings: The role of the artist. One may expand on this lea by taking a look at Soyinka’s and Osofisan’s view on myth in dramatic texts. an epitome of first generation writers says that the major duty of a playwright is to interpret myths for social awareness. Femi Osofisan.
Ibidokun observes that: Religion is an opium to the mind and so could religious myth be. As Soyinka centre the dramatic conflict within Elesin Oba’s soul. While Soyinka deploys myths interpretatively. However. it must be noted that neither of them present the exact old myth of Nigeria. The world is damped on the shoulders of man who accepts the challenge by creating a new social order where there in be no room for oppression and injustice. Osofisan 77 . secular myths seem to be favoured. to the serious drama of reality and history. That the two playwright deploy myth in their works to reflect the Nigeria social vices is an indisputable fact. very opposite trajectory.The role of a truly committed artist is to forge new myths to reflect wholesome revolutions in the society. Osafisan explore the same myth re-interpretatively. In Ososfisan. Delineating this fact. While Soyinka moves from historical Osofisan contemporaries undertakes the ness into myth.
Further our argument from the aforementioned point. in 1941. That is “to interpret. proposed the term demythologization when he radically maintained that “the trask of Christian faith is to reject the mythological setting of the Gospel and to recover the meaning hidden within the myths”. Buttman Rudolf a German theologian. 78 . Applying Buttmarn’s propostion to Amos Tutuola’s mythological new.pitches his own right in the society. we can borrow Buttmann Rudolf’s theological term to categorize the two types of mythic interaction in Nigeria. But both debunk the myths they use. according to the categories of existentialist philosophy the essential message in mythical term”. Thus: ……. we can propose that Tutuola uses myths mythologically.demythologization refers to the conscious efforts people make to purify a religious tradition of its mythological elements..
It was one of the first novels to be written in any African language. poetry. monster. Itan is the word for the sum of Yoruba religion. Written in 1938 by Chief Damelo Fagunwa (1903. Ifa is complex system of divination. with Yoruba charming to decend from dimities. sing and history.Yoruba religion is intertwined with history. It contains the picaresque tale of a Yoruba hunter encountering folklore elements. and gods. Yoruba divities are called Orisha and make up one of the most complex pantheon in oral history. such as magic. The body of this poetry is vart and passed on between Ifa Oracles. and some Kings becoming deified after their deaths. and remains the most widely read Yoruba language author. A divination recital can take a whole right. 79 . The first novel in the Yoruba language was Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irumole (The forest of a Thousand Demons). involves recital of Yoruba poetry containing story and proverb bearing on the divination.963). Fagunwa wrote other works bared on similar themes. spirits.
and them .Amos Tutuola (1920-1997) was greatly inspired by Fagunwa. (The pussical literature) the Roman literature of the middle ages. the modernist and vamus type of literature which have bean created in recent time. published 1952). African literature mostly possess its own specific character like other literature regims or continents. and other works based on Yoruba folklore. There is a type recognized as dominant. we had literature of the ancient Greece. the renaissance literature. Tutuola gained fame or the palm-wine Drunkard (1946. African literature was it own distinct period (literary) for instance the older literary production which most people would tag as residual literature. Across this forms of African literature the oral tradition his been employed to give a distinct African content 80 . but wrote in an intentionally ramblings broken English. specifically. the emergent species of literature. reflecting the oral tradition.
and aesthetic convention to what the literature of Africa most necessarily be. Mythology is an essential segment of this African content and aesthetic. It is used just like a Greek writer did. For example Sophocles in his Oedipus rex uses Olympus gods as his form of mythology. In the same way, the African writers adopt mythological. In poetry there is also mythology. Mythological poem are always invocatory in nature they are written in form of a chants, incantations, apostrophized (using Apostrophe) totemision (totem for worshipping Ogun is dog, Esus, Palm-Oil etc). There is a major dimension to mythology especially when it is rendered within the context of an aesthetic text. This dimension is the spiritual (supernatural phenomenon the trapped personality (not so human)). The relationship between oral and written traditions and in particular between oral and modern written literature is one of
great complexity and not a writer of simple evolution. Modern written literatures is one of great complexity and not a matter of simple evolution. Modern African literatures were born in the educational systems imposed by colonialism, with models drawn from Europe rather than existing African traditions. But the African oral traditions exerted their own influence on these literatures. Myth is both a story and a fundamental structural device used by storyteller. As a story, it rercalls change at the beginning of time, with gods as the central characters. As a storytelling tool for the creation of metaphor, it is both material and method. The heroic epic unfolds within the context of myth, as does the tale. At the heart of each of these aenres is
metaphor, and at the are of metaphor is riddle with its associate, proverb each of theses oral form is characterized by a metaphorical process the result of patterned infeny. These universal art forms are rooted in the specificities of the African experience.
Themes in the literary traditions of contemporary Africa are worked out frequently within the structures laid down by the imported religion Christianity and Islam and within the struggle between traditional and modern, between rural and newly urban, between genders, and between generations. The oral traditions is clearly evident in the popular literature of the market place and the major urban centres, created by literary storytellers who are manipulating the original materials much as oral storyteller do, act the same time remaining faithful to the tradition some of the early writers abilities by translating work into African languages; others collected oral tradition; most experienced their apprenticeships in one way or another within the contexts of living oral traditions. There was a clear interaction between the deeply rooted oral tradition and the developing literary tradtion of the 20th century. The interactions is revealed in the placing of literary works into the forms of the oral tradition. The impact of the epic on the novel, for instance,
is readily evident.O. D. published as Ilosiwaju ero mimo in 1866. such antiquarian child little more than netell. such works went beyond mere initiation.continues to influence writer today. there was an early series of Yoruba school readers. Published as Bibeli mimo in 1900. Iwe Kika Yorba (1909-15). Some of these writings were merely initiations of the oral tradition and were therefore not influential. There are two competing stands in Yoruba literature. The history of Yoruba literature more between these forces. and the Bible. or transcribe material from the oral tradition. The earliest literary works were translations of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s progress. one influenced by the rich Yoruba oral tradition. recast. the other receiving its impetus from the west. The oral tradition in the work of some of the early writers of the 20th century. Fagunwa in Yoruba and Mario Antonio in Portuguese. But the work of writers such as Tutuola laid a dynamic effect on the developing literary tradition.Amos Tutuola of Nigeria. containing prose and 84 .
In literature there is traditional literature also referred to as folklore or folk literature. drama. Amos Tutuola like most of the African writers has been able to debunk the assertion of the western scholars about the 85 . It encompasses the rituals. but the term is most commonly used to refer to works of the creative imagination. customs. Literature introduces us to new worlds of experience. fiction. and manner of a particular group that are prosed orally or in writing from one generation to the next. superstitions. including work of poetry.poetry. The retelling of a tale due to the oral traditions. It is described as being “a window through which children in today’s world may view cultures of long ago”. and nonfiction. CONCLUSION Literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material broadly speaking. “literature” is used to describe anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific works.
mysticism that characterized the beliefs of the Yoruba as regard gods and ancestors. ghosts. but was largely his own invention using pidgin of man who follows a palm wine tapster into the land of the dead ore “Dead’ Town. The book was based on Yoruba folktales. The writer further portrays African as being rich in literature. he uses his creative imagination to present to the world the level of esteem at which his customs and belief are hold. and supernatural beings. demins. Being a traditionalist.” There he find a world of magic. 86 . in symbolism.primitive of the African. Through his works the writer portrays to the world the dynamision and complexity that characterized the African beliefs and customs. He effectively uses myth in most of his works to depict the richness and uniqueness of the people’s customs and traditions. He infuse into his works. The books earn out in 1952 and received accolades from Dylan Thomas as well as other western intellectual figures of the time.
It depicted a drunk. social.All in all. used pidgin English. the writer has been able to utilize the various functions of myth as explanatory and narrative channel through which natural. 87 . and promoted the Idea Africans were superstitious. cultural and biological facts about the Yoruba are explained.
Femi. New York 1950 88 . New York: 19). SECONDARY SOURCES Awolalu. A critical perspective (Ibadan Kraft 1995). 1960 Cox David. Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrifice Rites (London: Longman group limited 1979). 1952. bath. Goastpr Theodore H. “Tradition and Individual Talent: Aesthetics and categorization in modern African literature” in Adegbeja E. (NOK publisher Ltd. Ozili. the theory of African literature :implication for practical critism (London: Book craft lith. African Mythology A key to understanding African religion. J. The Drama of Femi Osofisan. Clark J.P. Oxford University press Ltd. Muyiwa. Omosade. 1999). Awodiya. p. The Palm-wine Drinkard and my Dead Palm-wine Tapster in the Dead Town Faber publisher Ltd.117 Chidi Amuta.. History and Religion Oxford 1962 Dunmade. Myths. 1989).BIBLIOGRAPHY PRIMARY SOURCES Amos Tutuol. Booth Newell. .E (ed) The English language and literature in English: An Introductory Handbook (Ilorin: the Department of Modern European Language. Thepsis.
1970). 4 and vol.html Kirka. Cambridge University press.jrank. its meaning and functions in Ancient and other cultures. 12 and vol. p. 1981. vol. vol. London. 19 The Encyclopedia Britannia (London: Encyclopedia Britannia Inc. 264 Leach. the structural study of myth and Totemism the Encyclopedia Americana Internal (Connecticut. Danbury: Grolier Incorporated. myth.http: //ww.or/cultures/pages/4857/African-mythology. 19) 89 .
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