Style and meaning of Abamarachi children's oral poetry
Okhoba, Emily Were
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The study investigates the meaning of children's oral poetry among Abamarachi of Busia district in Western Province of Kenya, by studying the poetry's content, performance and style. It is based on the assumptions that Abamarachi children are creative in their oral poetry performances and that their poems have meaning. However a review of related studies reveals that children's oral poetry has been given insufficient literary attention and has been generally neglected in terms of analysis and interpretation. This research indicates that though it has been neglected. Children's oral poetry is a rich and significant area of study. The data for this study was collected through observation, participation and interview. Poems collected from children in selected primary schools were recorded on tape and later transcribed and translated. For systematic analysis, the poems have been categorized in seven broad categories on the basis of their content. A study of the performance of the poems is undertaken because the fieldwork showed that the meaning of the poems is actualised through performance. Fourteen poems are selected from each of the seven categories and analysed by investigating their imagery, symbolism and repetition. The meaning of the poems is enriched by the stylistic, ethnomethodological and psychoanalytical approaches adopted in this study, which allow for the examination of the literary, social and psychological dimensions of the poems. The findings reveal that there is a vast reservoir of Abamarachi children's poems whose meaning is contextual. These poems are a source of entertainment to the children and fulfil some of the children's psychological needs. This is so even when the children do not always understand the meanings of all the poems that they perform. The meaning implied by some poems gets clear to the children, as they grow older and more mature. It can therefore be concluded that children's oral poetry is a meaningful and significant aspect of the cultural art of the people in the community and deserves to be given more scholarly attention.