From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
A Professor of Literature, Department of English and Drama, Kaduna State University, (KASU), Ahmad Kofa Babajo, has called on African writers to research and produce more literatures that will promote the culture and behaviors of Africans.
He stated this in his inaugural lecture held in Kaduna yesterday.
According to him, every culture has a literature, hence, it is a wrong insinuation to think that African literatures are imported into the continent.
Speaking on the topic of his lecture: ‘Orature and Literature in Northern Nigeria in the Quest for Integration and Development’, Professor Babajo said Orature is the oral analogue of Literature, and it is erroneous to refer it to ‘folk literature’.
He explained that some ancient stories form traditions were not written down as literary work until 19th century, such as those collected in Germany by the Grimm brothers also came into this category.
“Orature was itself coined from the term “oral literature”. The ‘Ora’ has to do with the spoken and the ‘ture’ from the Latin word “literature” which means “that which is written”. “Literature” is from the Latin word “littera” which means “a letter of the alphabet”.
“Orature is a living, flourishing literature which stores the wealth of Africa’s literary heritage and for generations have been handed down since antiquity.
“It is a very complete literature with diverse genres, perfectly constituted, including epics, like those of Sundjata,” he said.
Prof. Babajo said northern literature is so great in humour and poetry displayed in African proverbs that they merit a place in literature.
“As for enigmas and riddles, Africans have raised them to the level of a literary genre; they are tantamount to metaphor on which great and small are exercised each day, during the night watches.”