Home Background/Orality Examples of Everyday Life

Examples of Everyday Life

Several stories have helped the author to develop a new methodology. Two are mentioned here.

PhD-students

A westerner sits in a class of PhD-students in a compulsory philosophy course, the future academic elite of the country. He observes that while the students never have a problem retelling the biography of a philosopher properly, for a lot of them it is difficult to describe the philosophical ideas correctly.

The history lecturer

A westerner learns the local language. Conversation is part of the lecture. His teacher is a top academic in the area of history. One day the discussion is about women and their place in the Qur´an. The westerner claims: In the Qur´an it is written that a husband has the right to beat a disobedient wife. The teacher herself denies this. At the next lecture the language student brings a Qur´an in the local language and reads the relevant verse (4:34) to the teacher. As he is just a beginner he has asked a local friend before the lecture to confirm that this verse supports his claim. He wants to be sure. After reading out the verse to the teacher, he thinks: “I have the proof.” However, the teacher answers: “My Mullah told it differently to me and he is right.”
For a westerner this is very difficult to understand, but in this case the oral authority was higher than the text itself. It did not matter that the lecturer was a top academic historian.

Now is a good time to consider the methodology.

Click on Oral Tradition Article for a challenging example from Southern Sudan.