Accepted Paper:

The Manden humor culture (West Africa).  


Olga Zavyalova (Saint Petersburg State University)

Paper short abstract:

The Manden humor culture consists of different institutions: "joking relationship" is the main feature of the culture. The oral tradition has some special humorous genres: jokes and traditional satirical theatre.

Paper long abstract:

The humor culture is deep-rooted in West Africa. Looking through the communication in Mali or Guinea where the Manden people live one can find them bantering, chaffing each other and laughing all the time. First of all it is because of the system of special joking relationship between different dyamu (clans) and some relatives - senankuya. Today one can find that this model is used in different tense situations also.

If senankuya is the specific traditional form of tension reduction in Manden, anecdote (joke) is the universal oral literature genre. In Manden languages there is no special term for anecdotes, most often the words "joke" (yɛlɛko) or "funny story" (yɛlɛko baro) are used. But among these stories one can find full-fledged anecdotes as well as great number of simple stories, related to tales about animals or fools.

While stereotypes of other groups, its traditional or historical features of relations are ridiculed in senankuya communication, then in "funny stories" first and foremost such human qualities are ridiculed, though urban anecdotes can be based on the ethnic stereotypes also.

Some jokes relate to a visual-figurative type of thinking. They are based on comic situations, and represent the examples of stupidity, confusion, mistakes. Others relate to a verbal-logical type of thinking, those are based on some language errors, misreading, or they require using of more complex logical chains, associations, concepts, etc.

Another interesting phenomenon of the Manden culture of humor is traditional satirical theatre kɔ̀tɛba in Bamana or bara/ bala in Dyula.

Panel Lang02
Limits and prospects of African humour