Riddles, along with proverbs, are key aspects of oral communication in many African cultures, including that of Abagusii of Kenya. Popular, especially with children in the community, participants typically use riddles to challenge one another’s knoweldge. One person would metaphorically describe something with a concealed clue. The listener, using imagination, previous experience and the context in which the riddle is said, would search for the most relevant answer. It takes great imagination to get the correct answer.
Riddles are also performed communally as in the case of groups of people working in the fields, trekking to the market, riding in the same public transport or simply sitting around an evening fire as they waited to retire to bed. This aspect of riddling acted to strengthen community bonds, enhanced knowledge-sharing and imparted lessons, especially for the young in the community.
Riddles of Abagusii of Kenya documents the many riddles from that community recorded over a spread of time and space. It offers analysis intended for understanding the riddles and how they are used.
What Others Say:
The publication of Christopher Okemwa’s Riddles of Abagusii of Kenya is a giant groundbreaking step in making available the rich reservoir of the oral literature of the Abagusii. The pool of riddles in the book will be handy in helping students and researchers to access this genre of the oral literature of the community. It is not only a fact that this is so far the best presentation of the riddling tradition among the Abagusii, but also the deep literary quality of this presentation places this book among the best that have emanated from a research on this community. – Obed Machogu, University of East Africa, Baraton.
“By collecting riddles from all parts of the Abagusii community, the author scores a first in this category of writing. However, what makes the book stand out and more useful is his treatment of riddling, which takes care of place, function and time. His analysis of the riddling styles caps the book achievement with refreshing, rather unexpected, academic spicing.” – Anderea Morara, Editor; Author of “Ogasusu na Abasani Baye Aboro”
“Riddles’ originality is that they imaginatively depict the environment in which they are made by a keen observant mind. Their reality makes it practical by the imagery with which they are expressed. They are factual and compelling.” – Evans Machera, Lawyer.
“It creates suspense that demands the reader to search for more. The tone is high that makes one want to laugh, yet hidden meaning challenges the reader’s thinking. It is revealing and entertaining.” – Anonymous