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Title: Change and continuity in riddles and riddle performance among the Kipsigis of Kericho County, Kenya
Authors: Cherono, Esther
Keywords: Riddles and riddle performance
Issue Date: Jul-2020
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: This study focused on contemporary Kipsigis riddles, their performances and ways in which they have adjusted to the socio-cultural circumstances brought to bear on the Kipsigis cultural lives. The objective of this study was to interrogate the ways in which the postcolonial experiences has influenced Kipsigis riddle formation and riddling, and the implication on the processes which produce the meaning. Although the structure and form of riddles has been extensively studied, the question of change and continuity in riddles and riddle performance has not received much attention. This thesis was informed by the concept of cultural circulation and appropriation of fragments from other cultures and genres in the process of cultural production. The study highlighted ways in which modernity has impacted on aspects of the Kipsigis culture and the implications that they have had on the process of riddle production and practice. Using ethnographic methods for data collection, the study sought for ways in which culture, on the one hand, and the performers of cultural genres, on the other hand, adjust to cultural modification as a result of cultural interaction. Thus, the study sought to understand ways of arriving at meaning in contemporary Kipsigis riddling in a context where shifts in value influenced by colonial modernity is apparent. The analytical procedure was informed by insights from the concept of composition by fragments by Barber (1989) and Hofmeyr (1994). This study espouses that riddle formation and practice is dependent on historical circumstances and experience of the community. The study established that the mode of construction of new metaphors in contemporary Kipsigis riddles reflects the changing postcolonial Kipsigis worldview. The Kipsigis riddle therefore can be regarded as a versatile genre capable of encapsulating the history as well as accommodating other experiences brought to bear on the community. It also provided an illustrative insight on how the Kipsigis people interacted with their neighbouring cultures and more importantly, how the British colonial authority impacted on the Kipsigis culture and traditions. The study concludes that riddles and the riddling process is not just about aesthetic appeal but it is able to both adapt to changes in a dynamic social context and act as a storehouse of African histories and experiences. Hence the study has expanded the frontiers of knowledge on the riddle by proposing a shift of focus to the impact of its context and its social history. The study opened more gaps on looking at riddles as a genre which can be used to interrogate the history of a community, its cultural transformations and and the making of new knowledge. The study recommends further investigation on how the riddle as a genre functions in Kenyan communities as well as in other African communities
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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