Storytelling in Northern Zambia
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252 pages

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More than just a book, Storytelling in Northern Zambia lets you watch videos of the storytellers while you read. Storytelling plays an important part in the vibrant cultural life of Zambia and in many other communities across Africa. This innovative book provides a collection and analysis of oral narrative traditions as practiced by five Bemba-speaking ethnic groups in Zambia. The integration of newly digitalised audio and video recordings into the text enables the reader to encounter the storytellers themselves and hear their narratives as they were recounted during Robert Cancel’s research trips to Zambia. Robert Cancel's thorough critical interpretation, combined with these newly digitalised audio and video materials, makes Storytelling in Northern Zambia a much needed addition to the slender corpus of African folklore studies that deal with storytelling performance. Cancel threads his way between the complex demands of African fieldwork studies, folklore theory, narrative modes, reflexive description and simple documentation and succeeds in bringing to the reader a set of performers and their performances that are vivid, varied and instructive. He illustrates this living narrative tradition with a wide range of examples, and highlights the social status of narrators and the complex local identities that are at play. Cancel’s innovative study tells us not only about storytelling but sheds light on the study of oral literatures throughout Africa and beyond. Its innovative format, meanwhile, explores new directions in the integration of primary source material into scholarly texts. This book is part of our World Oral Literature Series in conjunction with the World Oral Literature Project.



Publié par
Date de parution 29 juillet 2015
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781909254626
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Man playing the banjo , Kaputa (northern Zambia), 1976. Photo by Robert Cancel
World Oral Literature Series: Volume 3
Storytelling in Northern Zambia:
Theory, Method, Practice and Other Necessary Fictions
Robert Cancel
© 2013 Robert Cancel. Foreword © 2013 Mark Turin.
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC-BY 3.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work; to adapt the work and to make commercial use of the work providing attribution is made the respective authors (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Further details available at

Attribution should include the following information:
Cancel, Robert. Storytelling in Northern Zambia: Theory, Method, Practice and Other Necessary Fictions. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2013.
This is the third volume in the World Oral Literature Series, published in association with the World Oral Literature Project.
World Oral Literature Series: ISSN: 2050-7933
Digital material and resources associated with this volume are hosted by the World Oral Literature Project ( ) and Open Book Publishers ( ).
ISBN Hardback: 978-1-909254-60-2
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-909254-59-6
ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-909254-61-9
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-909254-62-6
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 978-1-909254-63-3
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0033
Cover image: Mr. Chishele Chuulu explains the meaning of some royal implements at the court of Tabwa Chief Kaputa (1983). Photo by Robert Cancel.
All paper used by Open Book Publishers is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) Certified.
Printed in the United Kingdom and United States by Lightning Source for Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK).
For Margaret and Avelino Cancel, Helen and Jack Finnigan, Paul Nsama, Anna Chilombo, Viv Shone, Stanley Kalumba, Booker Kapapula, Paul Chisakula, William Musonda and Rabbon Chola
Ancestors all .
Contents Audio-Visual Resources Acknowledgements Foreword Mark Turin I. Writing Oral Narrative: The Role and Description of Self in Recording Living Traditions II. The Tabwa Context: Mature Shifting of Frames and Adolescent Assertion III. Chiefs, Tricksters and Christians: Bemba Tales and Lessons IV. Bisa Storytelling: The Politics of Hunting, Beer-Drinks, and Elvis V. Telling Tales While Keeping Secrets: Two Lunda Storytelling Sessions VI. Stories on Demand: A Performance Session Among the Bwile VII. Conclusion: Lessons from Frozen Moments Works cited Index
Audio-Visual Resources
This book draws upon the digital archive of videos and audio recordings collected by Robert Cancel during his research trips to Zambia during 1988-1989 and 2005. Recordings of thirty-nine of the oral narratives transcribed in this book are freely available on-line. In order to access these recordings you can follow the links given below and at the bottom of the relevant pages. Alternatively, you can scan the QR code which appears alongside each story. If you are reading this book in a digital format you may need to enlarge the QR code in order to scan it. Tabwa Storytelling 1 (120 MB) Tabwa Storytelling 2 (162 MB) Tabwa Storytelling 3 (184 MB) Tabwa Storytelling 4 (39.4 MB) Bemba Storytelling 1 (48.9 MB) Bemba Storytelling 2 (71.7 MB) Bemba Storytelling 3 (52.6 MB) Bemba Storytelling 4 (61.8 MB) Bemba Storytelling 5 (42.6 MB) Bemba Storytelling 6 (91.2 MB) Bemba Storytelling 7 (133 MB) Bemba Storytelling 8 (108 MB) Bemba Storytelling 9 (153 MB) Bisa Storytelling 1 (162 MB) Bisa Storytelling 2 (68.4 MB) Bisa Storytelling 3 (49.9 MB) Bisa Storytelling 4 (84.6 MB) Bisa Storytelling 5 (148 MB) Bisa Storytelling 6 (86.4 MB) Bisa Storytelling 7 (27.9 MB) Lunda Storytelling 1 and 2 (110 MB) Lunda Storytelling 3 (121 MB) Lunda Storytelling 4 (30 MB) Lunda Storytelling 5 (87.6 MB) Lunda Storytelling 6 (65.9 MB) Lunda Storytelling 7 (252 MB) Lunda Storytelling 8 (37 MB) Lunda Storytelling 9 (43.5 MB) Lunda Storytelling 10 (26.5 MB) Lunda Storytelling 11 (146 MB) Lunda Storytelling 12 (33.8 MB) Lunda Storytelling 13 (119 MB) Bwile Storytelling 1 (100 MB) Bwile Storytelling 2 (37 MB) Bwile Storytelling 3 (205 MB) Bwile Storytelling 4 (121 MB) Bwile Storytelling 5 (125 MB) Bwile Storytelling 6 (143 MB)
For additional resources, and for information on downloading a QR code scanner, visit our web-site:
This has been a project of such long duration that it is difficult to properly recall and identify all the people who have in some way contributed to its realization. Obviously, most heartfelt gratitude goes to the many performers who gave their time and considerable talents to the narratives discussed in this book. Many of them have since died and I can only hope that they are represented here in ways that both accurately reflect their performances and honor their memory.
People who have provided aid and comfort in Zambia are, again, too numerous to realistically list here. Among the Tabwa people, Chiefs Mukupa Katandula, Nsama and Kaputa all graciously supported my efforts and granted me access to their respective territories. Local friends and contacts included Paul Nsama, Rabbon Chola, Jameson Mpundu, and William Musonda. Work among the Bemba was greatly facilitated by Paramount Chief Chitimukulu Mutale Chitapankwa, Stephen Komakoma and Father Michel Genelot. At Ilondola in 2005, a small group of Catholic priests and brothers of the Missionaries of Africa (formerly the White Fathers) provided a great deal of assistance to me during my stay at the Bemba language center, as did my tutor Evans Bwalya. Collection and the ongoing analysis of material from the Bisa in Nabwalya was made possible by Stuart Marks and Kangwa Samson. My work in the village of Puta among the Bwile was facilitated directly by Chief Puta Kasoma and, many years later, by the current Chief Puta and his two councilors, T.D. Koti and Ferry Chansa. In the Lunda region, two, then, graduate students, Anthony Kafimbwa and Samuel Ng’andwe provided valuable introductions to local verbal artists, while in 2005 Job Kachingwe aided in providing background on the performers and interpreting themes of the narratives collected in 1989.
Zambian friends and colleagues at the University of Zambia have provided logistical, intellectual and moral support for this project. Old friends Professor Mwelwa Musambachime, his wife Phoebe, Dr. Moses Musonda and Dr. Mwesa Mapoma were invaluable in sharing their knowledge of the Bemba-speaking societies covered in this work. Colleagues and some students in the Department of Literature and Languages at UNZA provided a sounding board for my ideas and were also supportive of my teaching efforts during the 1988–89 academic year. Administrators at UNZA and the Institute for African Studies, including Professor Robert Serpell, Dr. Steven P.C. Moyo, Dr. Jacob Mwanza and Mrs. Ilse Mwanza continually provided material and intellectual support to this project. While numerous Zambian colleagues contributed to the transcription, translation and analytical efforts of this study, special thanks are due to Mr. Dickson Chishimba Nkosha who very quickly meshed his translation skills with my own style so that he seamlessly worked over and improved my initial efforts as well as transcribing and translating a few narrative texts on his own. Here in San Diego, our great friend Mrs. Josephine Mabula Huckabay supplied a convenient and always sensitive source of transcription and translation assistance for a number of narrative performances. In Lusaka, Dr. Joseph Mwenya Mwansa, newly returned from his doctoral studies abroad, made some last revisions on one or two narrative translations that I had been trying to finis

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