How oral literature can solve conflicts in Africa ~ Prof. Ker, IBB University, Lapai


Professor of Oral and Comparative Literature, and the Dean, Faculty of Languages and Communication Studies, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Prof. Apegba Ker, has advocated for the deployment of oral literature in addressing the conflict bedeviling Nigeria and other African societies floating on destructive waters.

Delivering the 14th inaugural lecture of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, last weekend, entitled “The Dynamics of Change: The Oral Artist and the Survival/Preservation of the Form” Prof. Ker posited that aside the entertainment role of oral literature, the lessons embedded in traditional songs and stories have made them a viable tool for conflict resolution and prevention.

According to him, as Nigeria and some other African countries continue to grapple with communal conflicts and violence, oral literature is a passable route to follow in promoting peace and progress of humanity. He noted that “through oral histories, narratives, songs, riddles and proverbs, people appreciate the functioning of vibrant communities with values anchored on understanding, collaboration, and interdependence.”

While pointing out the richness of African literature, as being comparable with literature in other continents of the world, the Dean observed that “storytelling as an art has been very influential in molding the character of the younger ones in traditional societies”, adding that “the dynamic nature of culture is reflected in folktales”.

He further observed that “children’s oral literature inspires them through the portrayal of characters bearing qualities that they can identify with”, adding that riddles as one of genres of oral literature sharpens the intellectual and imaginative abilities of children.

Professor Apegba Ker, however, said the emergence of civilization and modernity which had led to the extinction of oral forms of literature have done extraneous damages to the extended family system by withering its cohesive value because “few parents now spend time with their children, not to talk of having time to tell them stories.”

Though oral poetry was a veritable arm of oral literature, the Dean observed that this was neglected by the initial collectors of African oral literature, despite the impacts it had made on African written poetry.
Professor Ker underscored the need for the introduction of Nigerian cultural studies in Nigerian schools, beginning from primary schools level, which according to him is one of the ways to preserve oral literatures.