A literacy exploration of selected Kimeru oral poetry on calamities
Kirimi, Anthony K
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The present work takes a look at how oral poetry responds to historical periods and moments in the Meru society characterized by human suffering. The Meru community is a Bantu tribe living on the Eastern side of the slopes of Mount Kenya. The main focus of the work is the stylistic exploration or interpretation of Kimeru oral poetry produced in such periods. The research then moves into the analysis of the concept and context of calamity in the Meru society with the intention of getting a glimpse of what is considered calamitous, disastrous or catastrophic as relayed in the oral poetry under study. Periods of vulnerability have been identified and the philosophical interpretation of the events of those lived experiences has been stylistically analysed. Though there are seven sub-groups of the Meru community, namely, the Chuka, Muthambi, Imenti, Tigania, Igembe, Tharaka and Mwimbi, the dialects are mutually intelligible. However, the research did not collect material from the whole of the Meru region rather; there are songs that are representative of different sub-groups that have been put into the fore. Most of the oral poems were recorded from the Muthambi sub-group; however, most of the songs used in this study are actually found among the various sub- groups and therefore cut across the entire Meru region. The relationship between performance and the subject matter of calamity has been analysed with a view of understanding the relationship between the subject and artistic rendition.