Professor Assefa Tefera Dibaba (Addis Ababa), Prof Karin Barber (Birmingham, Emerita), Prof Alena Rettová (SOAS), Dr Martin Orwin (SOAS), Ret’sepile Makamane (SOAS).

Roundtable Speakers


This roundtable, hosted by MULOSIGE on the 20th November 2019, explores orature’s role in world literature. 

Orature plays a determinant role in literary expression around the world, but unwritten verbal arts have been explicitly excluded from definitions of world literature. This exclusion has important scholarly and political implications. It risks reproducing the prejudice that oral literature only has an anthropological, rather than artistic and aesthetic, value, and that oral societies acquired literature only thanks to the colonial intervention of Western missionaries and administrators.

In this roundtable with Prof Assefa Tefera Dibaba of Addis Ababa University, Professors Karin Barber, Alena Rettová, Martin Orwin and PhD student Ret’sepile Makamane, scholars of Yoruba, Swahili, Somali and Sesotho literature, will discuss the contemporary production and circulation of oral literature in the internet age and the potential for comparison across African languages and regions, and between transnationally oriented oral traditions and locally oriented ones.

Learn more about Contemporary African Oral Traditions by watching the recording of this roundtable below.