Rendille Proverbs in their Social and Legal Context
Author: Günther Schlee, Karaba Sahado. Series edited by: Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig.
Series: Verbal Art and Documentary Literature in African Languages Volume 152002
4 pp. Roman, 192 pp.
1 map, 1 drawing, 1 table
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
The Rendille are pastoral nomads inhabiting a wide area in the arid north of Kenya, east of the Ndoto mountain range and lake Turkana and west of Marsabit. Their language is closely related to Somali. In collaboration with Karaba Sahado, a Rendille singer and poet, more than 1,000 proverbs and sayings were gathered for the present study. Sahado occasionally uses proverbs himself in his songs and therefore shares the author’s interest in documenting and analysing this genre of oral literature.
Because of the linguistic differences between Rendille and European languages it was deemed necessary to provide linguistic as well as ethnographical explanations to elucidate the meaning of the Rendille proverbs. To this end the proverbs are subjected first to a morphological analysis, then the morphemes are translated interlinearly and finally an English translation is given. If these measures were deemed insufficient to render the proverb’s meaning sufficiently clear, a further note explaining the proverb’s content was added.
Sometimes longer excursions were necessary because the life-style of the Rendille is rather different from the perspective of western culture. An example are the elaborate marriage rules. Anecdotes and fables are included to provide the reader with further background infromation on the history and oral literature of the Rendille. If possible the situational context where and when the individual proverbs are used is indicated. Especially in the context of legal disputes the appropriate use of proverbs, good rhetoric and the adroit referral to norm and wisdom are highly important in the absence of a body of codified law.
For further studies, a comprehensive dictionary of Rendille and an analysis of language shift from Rendille to Samburu in Kenya have been published in our programme, see under accompanying material. Following the cross-references below you will find further collections and analyses of proverbs of African languages:
- Boran Proverbs in their Cultural Context
- máakut(i) t’awá shuultáa – Proverbs Finish the Problems
- Mandinka Spoken Art
- Oromo Oral Poetry Seen from Within
- Suri Orature
- Traditions, Tales and Proverbs of the Bali-Nyonga
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