South African Journal of African Languages

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Nature in crisis: An ecological construction and conservation of the environment in Swazi oral literature

Enongene Mirabeau Sone


Oral literature is one of the oldest art forms ever created and utilized by mankind. Swazis’ use of oral literature through songs, praises, stories, riddles and proverbs shows how they love and value nature and the environment. The aim of this paper is to show how values expressed in Swazi oral literature are consistent with the ecological wisdom of the Swazi people who produce them. The paper demonstrates the dialectical relationship between environmental conservation and the preservation of oral literature. It is predicated on the hypothesis that Swazi oral artists are inspired in the composition and rendition of oral literature by their immediate environment. The paper further contends that Swazi oral literature offers textual sites that represent complex interactions between humans, other living beings and the environment. The natural environment should therefore be protected and conserved for posterity since it plays a vital role in the creative imagination of man. Written against the  background of an ecocritical approach, this paper concludes by recommending, among other things, that Swazis should be encouraged and facilitated to preserve and share traditional environmental knowledge, not only for the conservation of the environment, but also for the cross-fertilization of oral literature.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(2): 195–205
AJOL African Journals Online