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Ebooks – A vehicle of cultural transmission in Africa

“The civilization of the twentieth century cannot be universal except by being a dynamic synthesis of all the cultural values of all civilizations. It will be monstrous unless it is seasoned with the salt of negritude, for it will be without the savour of humanity.”

Leopold Sedar Senghor

READING IN AFRICA

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” Until recently, African history, culture and traditions were conveyed more through speech than in writing— the transmission of oral literature from one generation to the next lies at the heart of culture and memory. Very often, local languages act as vehicles for the transmission of unique forms of cultural knowledge.

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The cover of the book African Art

Oral traditions that are encoded in these speech forms can become threatened when elders die or when livelihoods are disrupted. Such creative works of oral literature are increasingly endangered as globalization and rapid socio-economic change exert ever more complex pressures on smaller communities, often challenging traditional knowledge practices.

Nden fubara funerary screen (Kalabari). Nigeria. Wood, cane, raffia, natural pigment, 127 x 94 x 40.5 cm.
The Trustees of the British Museum, London.
African woman. Vase, sculpture.

While the digital divide is a modern reality, it is not configured on the basis of former colonizer versus former colonized, or West-versus-the-Rest, but primarily located within individual nations, both wealthy and poor. Now, for the first time, Oral Literature in Africa is available to a digitally literate readership across the world, accessible to an audience whose access to traditional print editions published and disseminated from Europe remains limited. Digital and mobile access are particularly relevant for Africa, where smartphone penetration and cell coverage is encouragingly high. Ebook platforms, such as Snaplify provide a significant improvement, allowing to remedy the lack of libraries and bookstores by offering hundreds of thousands of downloadable books on all electronic devices and cell phones. While it is beyond doubt that technology has transformed access to scholarly information and the landscape of academic publishing, questions remain about long-term digital preservation and the endurance of web-based media. In a world of bits and bytes, what (if anything) can be counted as permanent? Traditional printed artefacts must be maintained and further developed for the inevitable day when all the servers go down but also to ensure sustainability in the transmission of knowledge and know-how.

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Crowns covered with a pearled decoration (Yoruba).
Plant fibres and beads, height: 38.6 cm.

To get a better insight into the life and the work of the Art in Africa, continue this exciting adventure by clicking on:  Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaAmazon FranceAmazon ItalyAmazon AustraliaAmazon MexicoAmazon GermanyAmazon SpainAmazon JapanAmazon ChinaAmazon IndiaItuneEbook GalleryGoogle BooksOverdriveOdiloSnapplifyKoboArchambaultBarners&NobleLeslibrairesScribdDoubanDangdang.

 

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