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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Secret of the Dog That Seized the Soap: Some Observations on Mande Oral Tradition
Author:Jansen, JanISNI
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:Mali
oral traditions
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Education and Oral Traditions
Abstract:This article deals with the social dimension of Mande oral tradition. It is based on data from Kela (Mali), where the author conducted fieldwork for eight months in the period October 1991 - March 1993. On the basis of his observations, he describes how the people of Kela dealt with a strange expression, 'a dog that seizes soap', and attempted to explain it in a meaningful way. To do this, they turned to the old, thereby reaffirming the social position of old men and women, who are considered to have the status to guard 'secrets' and who are invested with the authority to know the deeper meaning of words. On the cultural level, the explanation given for the expression in question stresses well-known values, either the beloved mother, or the political power of the foreigner, thereby reaffirming society as it is. In sum, the expression gives socially prestigious persons a chance to affirm, even confirm, their status by stressing selected cultural values. Bibliogr., notes, ref.