THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AFRICAN PROVERBS TO THE CONTINENT’S ORAL LITERATURE
What can we learn from this attribute of proverbs—ubiquity—in the African situation?
Any difference in the substance of these proverbs (according to the various regions—West, East, Central, North Africa)? What does it tell us?
Does geography also affect the nature of the proverbs?
Significance of the proverbs:
(i) each community cherishes its body of wise sayings which serve as pointers to how rich its language is;
(ii) user of proverbs is acclaimed as knowledgeable (wise) in the traditional sense since only those who can combine proverbs with ordinary speech are those who command respect in the traditional societies of old;
(iii) Proverbs as the language of the Chief’s Court—to be there, you must learn how to use them and speak as is done in that discourse community;
(iv) Appellations enunciated through traditional “talking drums” and interpreted by only a few who understand the language of the drums (source of honor and prestige/pride to the individual interpreter of drum language);
(v) Indicator of a good and reliable memory (vi) Generational differences—only those who spent time with the “old” ones in the community could be taught proverbs—indication that the user is not “tainted” by modern linguistic influences.