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Tales from Southern Africa


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Tales from Southern Africa

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Tales from Southern Africa
AC Jordan

ISBN 9780868522296


The spirit of the Xhosa society was enshrined in an oral tradition through which, from generation to generation, the community transmitted its customs, values and norms. The poet and the storyteller stood at the centre of this tradition, as the community’s chroniclers, entertainers and collective conscience.

Xhosa novelist and critic, A C Jordan was an enthusiastic observer of the customs and history of his people, particularly of the oral narrative performances he witnessed first as a child, and later during his many journeys throughout South Africa. Now, when traditional storytellers, and the oral tradition itself, have almost been lost to us, Jordan’s vivid written translations and versions of some of the best-loved Xhosa folk tales, with their heroes and monsters, children lost and found, wayward adolescents and their rites of passage, are a celebration of the vibrant heart of the culture.

Tales from Southern Africa was first published in America in 1973; this is the first South African edition.

The Author

Archibald Campbell Jordan was born on 30 October 1906 in Mbokotwana, Transkei. The son of a minister of the Anglican Church, he won a Transkei Bhunga scholarship and studied for a College Education Diploma and a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare. After teaching for ten years at the African High School in Kroonstad, he obtained his Masters in African Languages from the University of South Africa. He was appointed lecturer in African Languages at Fort Hare in 1945, and the following year he became lecturer in the department of African Languages at the University of Cape Town.

In 1961 Jordan was refused a passport by the South African Government to travel abroad. He left without a passport to avail himself of a Carnegie grant to visit overseas universities and to investigate the latest developments in African languages and literatures. He went to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he remained for two years. In 1963 he went to the University of Wisconsin as a fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and in 1964 he was appointed professor of African Languages and Literature, a post he held until he died on 20 October 1968.

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