Oshodi Market, Lagos

In Africa, verbal art and the art of storytelling that goes with it are losing the battle with the ever-growing presence of radio and television broadcasts and a quickly changing social structure.
The stories are forgotten, the meaning of symbols and metaphors are no longer understood and the songs loose their original functions. Also, the way of speaking of the storytellers is quickly fading away and is replaced by the language mix of the urban areas. The specific idiom is replaced by the idiom of the metropolis. In view of its significance, verbal art must be preserved as part of the intangible heritage of a culture.

Vodun novices Ayou 1976

Verbal art represents the knowledge of and beliefs of the elders. However, these stories still influence today’s culture in a subtle way. The attitude of many young Africans still bears the traces of the beliefs of the past. And in many cases proverbs do refer to these beliefs. Indeed, the significance of verbal art reaches further than a voice from history.




T H E  V E R B A L  A R T  F O U N D A T I O N
A registered charity organisation in the Netherlands (ANBI)