He was surrounded by his wife, Claudine, and his son, Bruno. Diagnosed with lung cancer in the Fall of , Vansina underwent chemotherapy for a few weeks and enjoyed a remission in the summer and early fall of , during which he continued his tireless quest for understanding the past of Central Africa. A pioneering figure in the study of Africa, Vansina is considered one of the founders of the field of African history in the s and s. His insistence that it was possible to study African history in the era prior to European contact, and his development of rigorous historical methods for doing so, played a major role in countering the then prevalent idea that cultures without texts had no history.
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Tete ka asom ene Kakyere Ancient things remain in the ear Daaku, p. The marvel of oral tradition, some will say its curse, is this: messages from the past exist, are real, and yet are not continuously accessible to the senses.
Oral traditions make an appearance only when they are told. For fleeting moments they can be heard, but most of the time they dwell only in the minds of people. The utterance is transitory, but the memories are not. No one in oral societies doubts that memories can be faithful repositories which contain the sum total of past human experience explain the how and why of present day conditions.
Tete are ne nne: "Ancient things are today" or "History repeats itself. The mind through memory carries culture from generation to generation. How it is possible for a mind to remember and out of nothing to spin complex ideas, messages, and instructions for living, which manifest continuity over time is one of the greatest wonders one can study, comparable only to human intelligence and thought itself. Because the wonder is so great, it also is very complex.
Oral tradition should be central to students of culture, of ideology, of society, of psychology, of art, and, finally, of history. It is with this last aspect that we are concerned in this book. Among the various kinds of historical sources traditions occupy a special place. They are messages, but unwritten; their.
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Jan Vansina (1929–2017)
He was surrounded by his wife, Claudine, and his son, Bruno. A pioneering figure in the study of Africa, Vansina is considered one of the founders of the field of African history. His insistence that it was possible to study Africa in the era prior to European contact, and his development of rigorous historical methods for doing so, played a major role in countering the idea that cultures without texts had no history. Born in in Antwerp, Belgium, Vansina trained as a medievalist before accepting a position in as an anthropologist in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then a Belgian colony. In , Vansina accepted an invitation from Philip Curtin to join the history department at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Vansina and Curtin created the first program in African history in the United States and trained the first and second generations of specialists in the field.
Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology
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