KOLEC Lesson 08: Genres of Oral Literature - Part 2

KOLEC Lesson 08: Genres of Oral Literature - Part 2



In this lesson, we will be discussing the following forms of oral literature:

  • Legend
  • Myth 
  • Anecdote
  • Epics
  • Tall tale



(6) Legend

A legend is an old and well-known story that tells about a brave people, adventures, or magical events. Legends are told from one generation to another as though they were true. 

Many legends tell about how human beings meet supernatural creatures such as fairies, ghosts, vampires, and witches. They are also associated with the famous people who have died.  

Examples of Legends:-  

In Africa culture:-  

  • Mkwawa - is a Tanzanian legend hero. 
  • Mwalimu Julius Nyerere - is a Tanzanian legend/hero and leader. 
  • Shaka Zulu - is a South African legend/hero. 
  • Nelson Mandela - is a South African legend/hero and leader. 

In American culture:- 

  • John Henry - is a black legend/hero. 
  • Paul Bunyan - is an American legend/hero who was able to divert rivers. 
  • Davy Crockett - is an American legend/hero who was the frontiers man.  

(7) Myth

A myth is a religious story that explains how the world and humanity developed into the present form. Many myths describe the creation of the Earth and human beings. They are considered to be true among the people who develop them. 

Contents of myths:

-In some stories, a god creates the earth. 

-In others, the earth emerges from a flood. 

-Some myths describe the creation of the humans. 

-Others describe the origin of death.

Examples of myths:

  • The myth about scars on the moon. 
  • The myth of why hens have no breasts. 
  • The myth of why frogs have coarse backs. 

(8) Anecdote

An anecdote is a short written or oral account of an event in a real person's life. 

Anecdotes are always short, amusing and interesting stories about real incidents of the people's lives. 

Uses of Anecdotes

-Anecdote is used to illustrate a point.

-Anecdotes are often used by philosophers and teachers of schools and religions to point out truths about real life. 

Examples of anecdotal stories:-  

Today's lesson is all about the daily experiences we face. One day, I was walking on the road. I met the begger, and I had to help him. 

Note: The Good Samaritan and other Biblical parables are also examples of anecdotes.

(9) Epics

Epics are long narrative poems that tell the bravery of the larger-than-life hero. An epic is a long story that tells the brave actions and exciting events of the hero. An epic hero is usually a man of high social status and who has a great historical and legendary importance in society. 

Epics are found in books, poems, or films and they often involve supernatural events, distant journeys, as well as life and death.  

Examples of epics: 

In Africa:  

  • Sundiata - An African epic about an Old Mali Empire 
  • Shaka Zulu  

Other examples:  

  • Beowulf 
  • Odyssey 
  • Illiad 
  • Moses (in the Bible) 

(10) Tall tale

A tall tale is a folktale about a larger-than-life hero who solves an over-the-top problem in a humorous or outrageous way.  

Examples of tall tales:

Note: Most examples of tall tales come from ancient Greece and Rome. 

American cowboys, lumberjacks, railroad workers and steelworkers created various versions of tall tale stories.  

American folk heroes like Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, and John Henry are also examples of tall tale heroes. 



This course is prepared and offered by: 


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Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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