Oral narrative performance and the construction of Bukusu perceptions on communal coexistence
This study set out to examine how oral narrative performance suggests the construction of Bukusu perceptions on communal co-existence. The study was informed by the fact that previous studies such as those by Makila (1978), Namulunda (2005) and (Bulimo 2013) were mainly concerned with collecting and recording Bukusu oral narratives. The present study specifically examines oral narrative performance and analyses the nuances that suggest Bukusu perceptions in these narratives. Such kind of study has not been conducted at this level. The study aimed at achieving four objectives: to examine context and meaning of Bukusu oral narratives, examine performance and meaning of Bukusu oral narratives, analyse special language of narration and how it suggests meaning in Bukusu oral narrative performance and examine how meaning in oral narrative performance contributes to the Bukusu perceptions of other people. The hypotheses of the study are that the meanings deciphered from the Bukusu oral narratives are subtly suggested in the context of performance of these narratives; performance of Bukusu oral narratives is significant in suggesting meaning; Bukusu oral narratives employ specialised use of language to communicate Bukusu perceptions on communalcoexistence and meaning in Bukusu oral narratives perpetuates Bukusu perceptions on communal co-existence. In theoretical framework, the study has employed an eclectic model in which hermeneutics and performance theories have been used. Whereas hermeneutic orientation provided the entry point of the meaning of Bukusu narratives, the performance orientation was used to extend this further by examining the context within which these narratives are performed. The study has also used ethnopoetics which has proved vital in understanding of the significance of aural and visual features like mimicry, gestures, and facial expressions in suggesting Bukusu perceptions as envisioned in oral narratives. This combination is grounded in modern folkloristic perspectives which call for viewing of oral texts as representations of collective thinking. In research methodology, the collecting oral narratives and other relevant information consisted of participation, observation, digital recording and oral interviews. Our analysis of individual narratives has been guided by an analytical framework comprising a set of pertinent questions.Some of the key concerns in these questions included the way the Bukusu perceptions are constructed using oral narrative performance as well as the way major issues are portrayed in these narratives. The study has established that context and performance are vital because they supplement verbal articulations in constructing Bukusu perceptions. It has also been established that Bukusu oral narratives extensively comment on both the Bukusu and other neighbouring communities. The study has also established that whereas some of the narratives construct “the other” negatively as treacherous, deceptive and ungrateful; there are others, however, which acknowledge the value of these people for the continuity of society through intermarriages. The study has equally established that through Bukusu oral narrative performance, the community has designated certain roles and duties based on gender differences. Finally, the study has established that Bukusu oral narrative performance employs a wide range of language devices such as opening and closing formulae, diminutive and augmentative language, coded songs, symbolism and imagery as well as strategic repetition to construct Bukusu perceptions on communal co-existence.
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