Sunday, April 8, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different.

Happy Easter everyone! This past week in our Folk/Fairytales class has been spent on African stories, and it is my pleasure to relate to you, my dear reader, my impression of the lecture given by McDaniel’s own Dr. Ochieng’ K’Olewe.
Right from the get-go he was telling us fairytales that he heard in his childhood in Kenya. I enjoyed the energy he put into his lecture and apparently so did the rest of the class, as he somehow managed to get a group of college students up and moving without complaint. As it turns out, the call-and-response style of story he mostly told is well-suited to this, and since it is an authentic style of storytelling in Africa, the experience was made all the better.
Beyond the enjoyment I got out of it, I also had my understanding of Fairytales reinforced by the new perspective he brought. The previous week (with Jewish folk tales) I finally began to understand that even though Jungian theory states that archetypes are universal, one can still find different emphases placed on certain archetypes depending on cultural differences. This lecture reinforced this understanding by explaining to the class that the emphasis on such things as wit and the interconnectedness of everything has its roots in the lifestyle of those that created the stories. For example, wit implies a quickness of thought that could have been vital to survival, and it would have been evident to a society that up until recently has been quite dependent on its environment and ecosystem that events never truly happen in isolation. I personally enjoyed this last interpretation very much as someone interested in history. It is an important idea—that it is impossible to separate any one historical event from the timeline and say that it happened without cause.
Personal relations to the content aside, I think that anyone learning about African folk tales could take similar lessons away. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this latest installment, look forward to next week’s blog post!

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