Oral Literature is said to be the first form of literature because it began existing when human being started living together as a community with a common language for enhancing their communication.

Thus, with language people composed songs which were influential in their working hours.

As the time went on Oral Literature became a tool for refreshing and entertaining people during and after work, educating as well as shaping the society when the need arises.

Thus, Oral Literature has some connectedness with the human development in shaping and improving his environment.

That is to say, Oral Literature is a type of literature which is represented before the audience through a word of mouth.

OR; Is a type of literature which is represented before the audience in spoken form.

As it has been said that Oral Literature is transmitted through a word of mouth, therefore one cannot deny that Oral Literature began even before the invention of writings.

Currently, Oral Literature exists but it is most vivid in illiterate societies.

NB: By Oral Literature being in illiterate societies it does not mean that it is of no use rather Oral Literature is still beneficial in imparting some quick messages.


a) It is passed through a word of mouth

b) It involves performance like dancing, clapping hands and singing

c) It involves both the performer and audience as both the narrator and listeners come together during the presentation.

d) It takes place in actual setting for instance during evening the folktales can be handed at home after work.

e) It is owned by the whole society as all society members the literate and illiterate individuals have chance to access it.

f) It adopts changes depending on time and place.

g) It is rich in characters because both human being and non-human characters are used in portraying the social realities.

h) It differs from one society or generation to another as it preserved on peoples memory.

i) It is rich in types.

j) It usually takes a moral lesson.



Oral Literature is categories into different forms as it bases on the modes of presentation, performance, setting, the themes portrayed, language used as well as form.

To mention some few categories are as explained below:-

i) Folktale

This is a type of Oral Literature whereby parents narrates stories to their children and they are passed over generations.

ii) Myth

This is a type of Oral Literature which explains on the early history of a group of people, a natural event or a certain fact. For example every society has its myth on the creation of man.

iii) Legend

This is the type of Oral Literature in which the old stories about famous events or people are told. These stories are not always true. For example the story of Fumo Lyongo

iv) Anecdote

This is a type of Oral Literature which tells a short amusing story on what someone has done. For instance Mugabe’s freeing of Whites in Zimbabwe, Kinjekitile’s use of water in his war with Germans.

v) Fable

This is a type of Oral literature which takes a short story that tells on a general truth. Also, fables can partly base on fact only. Here the fable on the tortoise and the hare is a good example.

vi) Saying

This is a well known and wise statement but it usual carry the meaning which is different from the simple meanings given by the words it contains.

vii): Riddle

This is a puzzling question which is often asked to test the cleverness of the one expecting to solve it.

Riddles have two parts the part of a statement or question asked by the narrator and the part of an answer which has to be replied by the listener.

viii) Proverb

This is a short and well known sentence which is given for imparting a moral lesson or advice. For example One finger cannot kill a louse, Unity is strength, Blood is heavy than water.

ix) Fairy tale

These are traditional stories passed to children. Usually these stories involve some imagery creatures and magic.

x) Idiom

This is a phrase which is made of words which convey a meaning which is different from the meaning that one can get from a word when it is in its own. For instance Kick the bucket, Pass away, bite the bullet.


i) It identify the society.

ii) It broadens people’s thinking

iii) It preserves and transmits people’s culture    

iv) It educate people

v) It criticize people

vi) It influence people

vii) It develops language

viii) It creates employment to people

ix) It unites people                  

x) It encourages people       

xi) It entertains people):

Qn.2: Compose a story of twenty (20) lines with an end “Unity is strength”.


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