Chukwuemeka Ojione Ojieh: The Collection, Authentication, and Use of Oral Evidence in African History


Several works on this subject have substantially established that oral evidence is a reliable source in African historiography. But it is not sufficient for such works being Africanist responses to Eurocentric postulations that pre-literate African societies, lacking Western-written sources, had no history. Though such works have improved our knowledge of the relevance of oral tradition in the reconstruction of African history, African oral tradition has been criticized by Western scholars. To this end, the article departures from most works on African oral historiography whose attentions are on the relevance of oral evidence in African history. Rather, it provides a manual on the process of engaging in the collection, authentication, and use of such oral data as to ensure that it is a credible source for writing African history. It is argued in the article that pre-literate African history will be more credible after critically scrutinizing data derived from oral evidence.

[Africa, oral tradition, historiography, African history, history methods]