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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Making Words Visible: Aspects of Orality, Literacy, Illiteracy and History in Southern Africa
Author:Guy, Jeff J.
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic terms:South Africa
Subjects:Zulu polity
History and Exploration
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582479408671795
Abstract:This article looks at the significance of the study of orality and literacy in South African historiography. A major theme which southern African scholars are only beginning to consider is the process by which African languages have become written, and the creation of accepted orthographic conventions. This raises questions as to the nature and role of language in the making of historical identity and, in particular, in the development and creation of ethnic and nationalist consciousness. The article analyses these points by taking concrete examples from two very different historical periods. After a brief discussion of the problems involved in understanding the dynamics of orality, the author contextualizes and examines the contradictions implicit in the arrival of literacy in the Zulu kingdom (South Africa), where it played an essential part in the struggle for colonial domination. Next, he considers what miners from Lesotho have to say on their own inability to read and write, in the light of some attitudes towards illiteracy held by those involved in contemporary schemes to promote literacy. Notes, ref.