Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro: African Storytellers of the Karamoja Plateau and the Plains of Turkana

By Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

© 2014

The Jie people of northern Uganda and the Turkana of northern Kenya have a genesis myth about Nayeche, a Jie woman who followed the footprints of a gray bull across the waterless plateau and who founded a “cradle land” in the plains of Turkana. In Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro, Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler shows how the poetic journey of Nayeche and the gray bull Engiro and their metaphorical return during the Jie harvest rituals gives rise to stories, imagery, and the articulation of ethnic and individual identities.

Since the 1990s, Mirzeler has travelled to East Africa to apprentice with storytellers. Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is both an account of his experience listening to these storytellers and of how oral tradition continues to evolve in the modern world. Mirzeler’s work contributes significantly to the anthropology of storytelling, the study of myth and memory, and the use of oral tradition in historical studies.

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Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Illustrations: 19
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Since the 1990s, Mirzeler has travelled to East Africa to apprentice with storytellers. Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is both an account of his experience listening to these storytellers and of how oral tradition continues to evolve in the modern world.

Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro: African Storytellers of the Karamoja Plateau and the Plains of Turkana

By Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

© 2014

The Jie people of northern Uganda and the Turkana of northern Kenya have a genesis myth about Nayeche, a Jie woman who followed the footprints of a gray bull across the waterless plateau and who founded a “cradle land” in the plains of Turkana. In Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro, Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler shows how the poetic journey of Nayeche and the gray bull Engiro and their metaphorical return during the Jie harvest rituals gives rise to stories, imagery, and the articulation of ethnic and individual identities.

Since the 1990s, Mirzeler has travelled to East Africa to apprentice with storytellers. Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is both an account of his experience listening to these storytellers and of how oral tradition continues to evolve in the modern world. Mirzeler’s work contributes significantly to the anthropology of storytelling, the study of myth and memory, and the use of oral tradition in historical studies.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Illustrations: 19
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘In this excellent extended case study, readers learn how storytellers recount the past to address today’s most pressing concerns…. This text could be superb for an undergrad humanities class… Highly recommended.’


    A.F. Roberts
    Choice Magazine vol 52:04:2014

    ‘There is much here to praise and my own admiration is directed at Mirzeler’s sophisticated and insightful rendering of how storytelling works as performance, art form, and vital practice in the Jie and Turkana societies.’


    Robert Cancel
    Western Folklore vol 74:3/4:2015

    ‘I found this study to be thorough, engaging, and provocative…. I recommend this book for upper division and graduate level courses in anthropology, folklore, or African history.’


    Lisa Gilman
    Journal of American Folklore vol 130:517:2017

    “Mirzeler brings together different elements and aspects of oral literature – traditions of origins, autobiography, invocations of landscape, dreamscape, and folk tales – to show how their interweaving in performance evokes the past in the present and continuously creates both self and community. The material presented here is very rich, and it is informed by an intuitive understanding of Jie story-tellers and their world. Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is a very convincing discussion of the ‘uses’ of tradition and of how the Jie construct and understand their past.”
    Richard Waller, Department of History, Bucknell University

    Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is a detailed and sophisticated ethnography of storytelling amongst the Jie and Turkana in Uganda. Mirzeler’s book is interesting and engaging, well written and based upon strong ethnographic experiences.”


    Jonathan Skinner, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Roehampton

    Remembering Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro is a moving and masterful integration of ethnography and oral tradition that illuminates relationships between past and present not only in Jie society but among all of the pastoralist groups on the Karamoja Plateau. Mirzeler captures with striking eloquence the essence of ‘being Jie.’  In their stories he finds the poetry of life in this harshest of desert places – poetry molded out of hunger, scarcity, and above all, opportunism and creativity. This book thus will immediately assume a place of importance in the bibliography of the Karamoja Plateau.”


    Sandra Gray, Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas
  • Author Information

    Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler is an associate professor in the Department of English at Western Michigan University.
  • Table of contents

    List of Figures

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    Maps

    A Note: On Personal Names and on the Transcription of Jie Words

    Personal Names and Places and Some Common Words

    Introduction

    Part I

    Chapter One: Jie Past and Present: Ecology, Economy, Guns, and State

    Chapter Two: Ethnography of Storytelling

    Part II

    Chapter Three Patterns and Images of Historical Tradition

    Chapter Four: The Jie Landscaper, Memory, and Historical Tradition

    Chapter Five: Historical Tradition and Poetic Persuasion of Pastness

    Part III

    Chapter Six: The Return of Nayeche and the Gray Bull Engiro

    Chapter Seven: The Significance of Nayeche and the Grey Bull Engiro Oral Tradition in a Jie Storyteller’s Autobiography

    Conclusion

    Part IV

    The Stories

    Bibliography

    Notes