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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ideological Confrontation and the Manipulation of Oral History: A Zambesian Case
Author:Schoffeleers, MatthewISNI
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Malawi
oral history
History and Exploration
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3171840
Abstract:Assuming that oral history must be subject to certain rules preventing it from losing its moorings in the objective past, this paper examines these rules in the case of two mythical accounts which form part of the history of the lower Zambezi. The accounts, which were recorded among the Mang'anja in the Lower Shire Valley, Malawi, describe the restoration of a celebrated rain shrine in the first half of the 17th century after several decades of war and oppression following the Portuguese penetration of the area. A schematic presentation of the two texts - a court version and a folk version of the same story - is provided and the similarities and differences between the texts, and between them and the relevant Portuguese sources are examined. The emphasis is on what is dubbed 'the principle of desynchronization': the rule that, although the facts themselves may not be changed, they may be moved to a different phase in the process of State formation. Notes, ref.