Reawakening Identity: A Study of Use of Proverbs as a Tool in the Performance of the Bukusu After-Burial Oratory Performance (Khuswala Kumuse)
Keywords:Bukusu, Identity, Kumuse, Memory, Oratory, Performance, Ritual
This paper examines proverbs as used in the Bukusu after-burial oratory performance not just as a specialized performed or coded discourse but as a verbalized and creative genre. Proverbs in the African context are usually acquired and learnt from listening to the elders’ talk. The elders are the masters of eloquence, rhetoric and meaning given the vintage position they hold in the African traditional society. Among the Bukusu community, proverbs play an important role in demonstrating the richness of the Bukusu culture. During the after-burial ceremony, the orator uses proverbs to establish a dialogue between himself and the congregation as well as a rhetoric flare where he applies to emphasize a point or a lesson. This paper seeks to investigate how the proverbs are effectively used in the performance of the Bukusu funeral oratory to contribute to the overall understanding of the Bukusu community both by the Bukusu people and the other communities. The paper identifies and demonstrates the vitality of proverbs in negotiating meaning and re-awakening memory among the Bukusu concerning their identity through the performance of the after-burial oratory kumuse. Proverbs are used in kumuse as a source of wisdom. The elders use them during the performance of the after-burial oratory to teach values to young people as well as leaders in the community. Proverbs are therefore very important in the performance of kumuse ritual among the Bukusu.
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