The Artistic Functions and Symbolism in History: Reconfiguring History through Unconventional Sources of Artistic and Historical Works in Upper Ngemba, Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon in the Pre-Colonial Era

Abstract

The conventional sources of History include recorded data, tape-recorded information and oral tradition where information is handed down from one generation to the other by word of mouth. Historians in trying to constitute and reconstitute the colonial history of Africa have largely depended on these sources. Some scholars on African History have relied on intelligence and assessment reports that were left behind by the colonialists. One of the major contentions of this paper is that the artistic functions and symbolism have played an integral role in the re-configuring and recording African historical facts. The scarcity of indigenous sources of historical recordings made some European scholars to argue from a Eurocentric perspective that African history started with the coming of the Europeans to the Continent. This paper debunks this parochial contention and argues that African History existed long before European contact and that the people had alternative ways of recording their own history. History was transmitted through works of art which included carved objects, clay productions, weaved items, songs, legends and myths. All these are artistic and symbolic sources of historical facts. Recorded data also has a history and their history can be reconfigured through alternative sources like works of art that constitute an important way of recovering a people’s history. A typical example of this kind of society is upper Ngemba where their rich artistic background portrays a rich history

Keywords: Artistic Functions and Symbolism, Artistic and Historical Works, Bamenda, Cameroon, Ngemba, Pre-Colonial Era, Unconventional Sources, history


Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 1-15 (Download PDF)

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