When Oral Literature Mirrors New Migration Dynamics: The Case of the Fulani Myth of Tyamaba in Futa Toro (North-Senegal)
Posted: 22 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2013
By focusing on the specific example of the Tyamaba myth in Futa Toro (North-Senegal), this paper aims to show how oral literature is interpreted differently according to the changes in the nature of the various migration flows influencing the Fulani society. At the beginning of the eighties (Kesteloot et al., 1986), the Tyamaba, a mythological snake, was seen as the symbol of the Fulani migration across the Sahel, illustrating the transhumance of pastoralists, as well as the constant moves of the fishermen following the pace of river floods and the migration of fishes. But in the last fifties years, both environmental and social situations changed. Following several droughts in the seventies, two dams were built on the Senegal river. Many fish species disappeared, threatening the fishermens way of life. In the meantime, fewer and fewer young people chose to live from pastoralism. In this context, the Tyamaba myth is still told, but the way people explained it has changed. It nowadays symbolizes the rupture of both fishermen and pastoralists with the Senegal river. This story became a modern explanation of rural exodus, an ecological myth reminding people of the dangers that come with disrespect for the balance of natural environment.
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