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Narratives of identity and sociocultural worldview in song texts of the Ham of Nigeria: A discourse analysis investigation

John, Philip Hayab (2017-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation investigates the social and linguistic communicative resources of spoken discourse embedded in the lyrics of the songs produced by members of the Nigerian Ham, the Hyam linguistic heritage community as a form of group, cultural, and identity-related analysis. The study considers Ham songs as narratives of world making (Herman 2009: xii) exploring public discourses concerned with the contestation of values and perceptions that are predictably part of societies in transition from traditional rural lifestyles to modern urban daily life. The drift from the rural area to the metropolitan, beside the multicultural nature of the cities, gives rise to encounters and contestations over a broad spectrum of sociocultural belief systems as (new) identities are (re)constructed to make the selfvisible. Essentially, the study focuses on the linguistic (linguistic lexical-semantic and discoursesemantic) expressions in the narratives inherent in the song texts. Theoretically, the study engages a multi-perspective approach which integrates the analyses of (i) narrative, (ii) genre theory, and (iii) appraisal theory. These approaches combined have shown to have integral components for the interpretation of Ham songs. Discourse observed as a system of address and verbal art or stories take place within a sociocultural and historical context (Halliday, Matthiessen 2014). Discourse linked with narrative establishes the function of language as a gateway through which society could comprehend the conception and worldviews of the Ham of themselves and the world around them. This thinking echoes the suggestion of Martin and Rose (2008) that the aim of a story (narrative) is to exemplify how characters struggle with the difficulties and dilemmas of life. In this way, the study undertakes to establish how the context songs in Hyam language are engaged in preserving kinship and morality/ethical consciousness and worldview among the Ham (John & Madaki 2014, 2015, 2016) and the role of narratives in the production of the identity of the Ham (Czarniawska & Gagliardi 2003, Frank 2010) The dissertation employs the notion of “small stories” (Bamberg 2006, Georgakopoulou 2006b) as well as ‘big stories’ (Lyotard 1984), to expound on ordinary events of society in addition to grand narratives. The basis is that narrative reveals a consciousness that people utilise stories in typical situations to construct (and perpetuate) a sense of who they are (Bamberg & Georgakopoulou 2008:2, De Fina & Georgakopoulou 2015, Popova 2015). More so, the formation of identity and belonging (Bamberg 2007) is the constituent of this dissertation. Related to this is genre theory engaged to categorise Ham songs into a recurring structure of patterns and meanings which enact the social life of their culture (Martin & Rose 2008). Correspondingly, appraisal theory is utilised as “a framework for analysing the language of evaluation” (Martin & White 2005, White 2009a: 2). To this end, the study is concerned with evaluating the rhetorical configurations and components in the carefully chosen songs to consider their import in understanding the worldview of the Ham. The inspiration for the study stems from the curious observation that in the face of the growing following of Ham songs with persistent communal expressive objectives, there was scarcely any dedicated study which examines the rhetorical features that the singers employ with an orientation to the theoretical approaches of NARRATIVE, GENRE, and APPRAISAL. I argue, in the dissertation, that these approaches, manifestly, are vital to the understanding of the stories, the configurations, and the raptures of stories the narrators/texts in the songs take on. Besides, that Hyam remains a spoken language primarily, only in the process of being documented through a Bible translation project, the researcher’saim, above all, is to seek to enrich a primarily oral language into writing by engaging familiarity with the International Phonetic Alphabets. However, the point of departure of the study is, while most research on songs in Africa is concerned with the question of politics which relates to control of nation-states or of power relations (for example, Mvula 1986, Njogu & Maupeu 2007, Musiyiwa 2013), the stories in Ham songs incline to focus on a society in the fringe, expressing its disquiets about origin, validation of culture, support to customs, instruction, esteem or criticism of conduct, and worldviews (Okpewho 1983: 24, John 2014).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die sosiale en taalkundige kommunikatiewe bronne van gesproke diskoers ingebed in die lirieke van liedere geproduseer deur die Nigeriese Ham, die Hyam taalkundige erfenis gemeenskap as ‘n vorm of groep, kulturele en identiteit-verwante analise. Die studie beskou Ham liedere as narratiewe van wêreldskepping (Herman 2009:xii) en ondersoek die openbare diskoerse wat verband hou met die aanvegbaarhede van waardes en persepsies wat voorspelbaar deel is van gemeenskappe in oorgang vanaf ‘n tradisionele landelike lewenswyse na ‘n moderne stedelike leefwyse. Die beweging vanaf die landelike gebiede na die metropolitaanse gebiede, gee aanleiding tot ontmoetings en wedywerings oor ‘n breër spektrum van sosio-kulturele oortuigingstelsels, naas die multi-kulturele aard van die stede, soos nuwe identiteite ge(re)-konstrueer word om die self sigbaar te maak. In wese, fokus die studie op die taalkundige (leksikaal-semantiese en diskoerssemantiese) uitdrukkings van die narratiewe inherent aan die liedere tekste. Teoreties, betrek die studie ‘n multi-perspektief benadering wat die analise van (i) narratief, (ii) genreteorie, en (iii) waardebepaling (‘appraisal’) teorie. Hierdie teorieë in kombinasie het getoon dat hulle integrale komponente het wat relevant is tot die interpretasie van Ham liedere. Diskoers, beskou as ‘n sisteem van aanspreking en verbale kuns of stories, vind plaas binne ‘n sosio-kulturele en historiese konteks (Halliday and Matthiesen 2014). Diskoers gekoppel aan narratief vestig die funksie van taal as ‘n deurweg waardeur die samelewing die konseptualisering en wêreldbeskouings van die Ham van hulself en die wêreld rondom hulle, kan begryp. Hierdie denke gee weerklank aan die suggestie van Martin en Rose (2008) dat die doelstelling van ‘n narratief is om ‘n voorbeeld te gee van hoe karakters in stryd is met die moeilikhede en dilemmas van die lewe. Op hierdie wyse onderneem hierdie studie om te bepaal hoe die konteks waarin Hyam liedere betrokke is in die bewaring van verwantskap en morele/etiese bewussyn en wêreldbeskouing onder die Ham gemeenskap (John & Madaki 2014, 2015, 2016) en die rol van narratiewe in die produksie van die identiteit van die Ham gemeenskap (Czarnaiwska & Gagliardi 2003, Frank 2010). Die proefskrif maak gebruik van die konsep van ‘klein stories’ (Bamberg 2006, Georgakopolou 2006b) sowel as ‘groot stories’ (Lyotard (1984) om gewone gebeurtenisse in die samelewing te verklaar naas die groot narratiewe. Die uitgangspunt is dat narratiewe ‘n bewussyn openbaar dat mense stories gebruik in tipiese situasies om wie hulle is te konstrueer (en te perpetueer) (Bamberg en Georgakopoulou 2008:2, De Fina and Georgakopoulou 2015, Popova 2015). Voorts, is die vorming van identiteit en affiliasie (Bamberg 2007) die kern van hierdie studie. Verwant hieraan, is die genre teorie wat aangewend word om Ham liedere te klassifiseer in herhalende strukture van patrone en betekenisse wat die sosiale lewe van die kultuur akteer (Martin en Rose 2008). Dienooreenkomstig word waardebepalings (‘Appraisal’) teorie ingespan as ‘n raamwerk vir die analise van die taal van evaluering (Martin en White 2005, White 2009a:2). Vir hierdie doel, het die studie betrekking op die evaluering van die retoriese konfigurasies en komponente in die gekose liedere ten einde die belangrikheid daarvan te ondersoek vir ‘n begrip van die Ham gemeenskap se wêreldbeskouing. Die motivering vir hierdie studie het ontstaan vanuit die waarneming van die groeiende navolgers van Ham liedere, met deurslaggewende uitdrukkingsdoelwitte, is daar kwalik ‘n spesifieke studie tot op hede wat die retoriese kenmerke wat sangers inspan, ondersoek, met ‘n oriëntasie tot NARRATIEF, GENRE, en WAARDEBEPALING (‘APPRAISAL’). Ek argumenteer in hierdie studie dat hiedie benaderings noodsaaklik is vir ‘n begrip van die stories, die konfigurasies, en dele van stories wat die vertellers/tekste aantoon. Behalwe dat Ham grootliks primêr ‘n gesproke taal bly, en slegs in die proses is om gedokumenteer te word deur ‘n Bybelvertalingsprojek, die navorser se doelstelling is bowenal, om ‘n primêr orale taal te verryk deur bekendheid met die Internasionale Fonetiese Alfabet. Die uitgangspunt van die studie is egter dat, terwyl die meeste navorsing oor liedere in Afrika gemoeid is met vraagstukke van die politiek, wat verband hou met die kontrole van nasie-state of magsverbande (bv. Mvula, 1986, Njogu & Maupeu 2007, Musiyiwa 2013) die stories van die Ham liedere neig te fokus op ‘n gemeenskap op die periferie, wat die kommer daarvan oor oorsprong, waardering van kultuur, ondersteuning vir tradisies, onderrig, agting vir kritiek op gedrag, en wêreldbeskouings (Okpewho 1983:24, John 2014).

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