Of all the guest lectures we have had so far I think I enjoyed Dr. Ochieng’ K’Olewe’s the most. Our other lectures have all been interesting and informative as well but Dr. Ochieng’ made his lecture both instructive and enjoyable. His presentation invited our class to participate not just as students learning the lesson but as examples of what he was teaching as well. In fact, he made the entire classroom part of his lesson. As he told his tales he turned off the lights for the tale Dr. Ochieng’ invited us to participate in a call and response style introduction. The lights he explained were turned out because traditionally stories in Africa were told at night, once all light had gone. The absence of light allowed the story teller to become any character he/she wants. So in the dark, with our sense of sight diminished were were able to focus on Dr. Ochieng’s voice as he became turtle, or monkey, or shark. The call and response version of “once upon a time” not only showed us part of the African story telling tradition, but also immersed our class further into the tale.
The tales he told specifically were all fun tales and were similar to other African tales I have heard before which often deal with animals and tell how something (be it a physical feature, a practice, or a relationship) came into being. In a lot of ways I feel like some of the tales Dr. Ochieng’ told us and other African tales I have heard are in some ways more accessible and understandable to broad audiences. I wonder if European folk tales and fairy tales enjoyed similar accessibility when they too were purely part of the oral tradition and before writers recorded them into the literary tradition.