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Ahmad, Sa'idu Babura (1986) Narrator as Interpreter: Stability and Variation in Hausa Tales. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The aim of this thesis is to show how the narrator of Hausa tales is able to maintain and render the stable elements in any particular tale while at the same time making use of a number of dimensions of variability to interpret the tale in an original or different way. This combination of fixity and flexibility ensures that story-telling remains relevant to everyday Hausa life in spite of the disapproval of many Muslim scholars and the growth of alternative means of communication and entertainment. The introduction reviews previous work on the subject, outlines the approach adopted in this thesis and discusses the background of the five principal informants used for this study. Chapter Two examines the factors that militate against and those that promote the telling of tatsuniya. Dominant attitudes to the telling' of traditional tales are discussed representing the views of the malamai, the colonial administration and the proponents of Hausa cultural revivalism. Chapter Three identifies and groups the major recurrent themes from among a corpus of 150 tales. The thematic categories are moral categories relating to such notions as fair and unfair treatment of one person by another or the expression of certain general moral virtues highly esteemed in Hausa society. Chapter Four groups tatsuniya on the basis of plot structure. Three structural categories represent alternative patterns in the deployment of episodes which are seen as discrete transitions from statement of a problem to its resolution. Chapter Five illustrates variability and stability in the rendering of a number of versions of the same story. Four pairs of stories are examined in detail having been selected to represent the thematic and structural categories outlined in Chapters 3 and 4. The extent of the narrator's freedom and constraints upon it are highlighted. Chapter Six examines the narrative performance techniques of three representative narrators. Variations in manner of description, use of song and use of specialized vocabulary are discussed. Account is taken of the particular strengths of individual performances and their strategies for ensuring audience enjoyment of their rendering of a well-known story. Appendix I contains the full list of stories marked for thematic and structural categories. Appendix II contains the Hausa texts and English translations of the stories discussed in the body of the thesis.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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