The World and the Word: Tales and Observations from the Xhosa Oral Tradition
A master storyteller of the Xhosa people of South Africa, Nongenile Masithathu Zenani gives us an unprecedented view of an oral society from within. Twenty-four of her complex and beautiful tales about birth, puberty, marriage, and work, as told to the renowned collector of African oral tradition, Harold Scheub, are gathered here. Accompanying the stories are Zenani’s detailed commentaries and analyses and Scheub’s striking photographs of her in performance. The combination of these historical and cultural observations with a richly symbolic collection of tales from a single traditional storyteller make The World and the Word a remarkable document.
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She learned her craft the way all Xhosa performers do : she heard stories in her
neighborhood , observed performances presented by an aunt , a grandmother , a
friend of her parents ; she picked up a detail here , a useful stylistic device there .
Then she heard something approaching the house . She heard it clearly ; she
heard a thing coming , a thumping sound . She got up ; she got a big knife that
was at the upper side of the house . She took the knife and went toward the door .
It was on that day that they first heard this boy speak — the one who did not know
how to speak . In his first speech , Sikhuluma said , “ No , Sitshalotshalwana , my
little brother ! Don ' t take the children to that homestead because no one ...