‘An African Epic’ and ‘The Tale of Genji’

The two oral stories – ‘An African Epic’ and ‘The Tale of Genji’ – provide useful accounts of two different ways of life in Mali and Japan. Basically, Oral histories are narratives that people tell about their own pastor about the history of other individuals. They have a befitting place in contemporary history as they are increasingly used to give individuals a reference to their actual position or place in the universe.

One of the expectations of the two stories mentioned above is to give individuals who read the stories a reference to the positions enjoyed by the two communities in the universe. To be more precise, the expectation of the story on Mali is to give a vivid picture about the role of the narrator, also referred as the griot, in revealing the true position or place of the Malian Kingdom to the world. The story ‘An African Epic’ also expects to reveal the qualities of good and bad rulers as exhibited by Sundiata and Soumaoro.

According to the story, the former is a good leader while the latter is the villain. In ‘The Tale of Genji’, the expectations of Lady Murasaki bordered on changing the widely held perception that a work of fiction could only be frivolous. From the story, it appears that many individuals could not depend on the objectivity of a work of fiction. However, lady Murasaki intended to show that a piece of fiction could be as objective and as truthful as a piece of history in portraying the human life and its historical meaning (Tiqnor et al, 2002).

The way of passing information from one generation to the other is considered most important in the two communities. In the Mali community, the focus is using oral narratives to keep the history of the kingdom from oblivion. In the story, it is clearly revealed that the griots or the counselors to the kings must act as depositories of knowledge by passing information from one generation to the other without alteration.

In the Mali community, writing for purposes of preserving knowledge is not carried highly as learning should be done in secret. Writing is not only considered to kill the faculty of memory but it inarguably lacks the warmth of voice. In the ‘Tale of Genji’, the novel takes precedence over oral narratives as a way of passing information to people. The story recognizes the immense practical value of using fiction as a way of passing information.

According to the author, novels should be used to complement history books as valuable sources of information since the former carries even the minutest information about a happening while the latter only reveals a small portion of the whole story. Fiction should never be used to describe only what is appealing to the readers. Indeed, it must also be used to expose the vices and follies that occur in the community.

The difference in the two stories is clear in that the Mali community advances oral narratives as the best technique of passing information while the Japan community views the novel as one of the best techniques of passing information that may otherwise be unknown to future generations. This difference may have been contributed by historical trends. Indeed, history reveals that the Malians may have mastered the art of writing some few decades ago while the Japanese have a history of writing spanning several centuries.

As such, the Mali community may not have known the importance of using written forms to pass crucial information from one generation to the other. Although the Mali story makes the reference of writing in terms of the fact that prophets didn’t write their work yet it remains the best, no clear indication has been given about the community’s capacity to write.

But in the Japan community, a vivid explanation has been offered on how the aristocracy of the day adopted classical Chinese as the certified written language to be used by the community (Tiqnor et al., 2002).

Works Cited

Tiqnor, R., Adelman, J., Aron, S., Kokin, S., Marchand, S., Prakash, G., Marchand, S., Tsin, M., & Kotkin, S. Worlds together, Worlds apart: A History of Modern World (1300 to Present), 1st Ed. W.W. Norton & Company. 2002

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