Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Calin Mihailescu


Umudúri is a Rundi oral genre that normally features laudatory texts; however, in Emmanuel Nkeeshimáana’s songs, it is resistance to the iniquities generated by colonial and postcolonial powers that predominates. Engaging Albert Lord’s approach to sung poetry, which is based on formulas and themes, this study addresses the place of umudúri in oral literature, focusing on the performance and enunciation. By translating Emmanuel Nkeeshimaana’s texts, basing on André Lefévère’s poetic and cross-cultural translation theory, it proves the limitations to the rendering of Emmanuel Nkeeshimaana’s resistance message. Thus, the study suggests ways for a fuller grasp of the resistance nature of these miduri, which draw both from the author’s native language stock and the country’s history: the use of Barbara Harlow’s method according to which resistance literature is embedded in the history and material conditions of the author’s experience, together with Vansina’s argument that historical testimonies are better analyzed in varied versions if one were to prove the historicity of resistance texts. Finally, drawing on Ngugi’s view of African postcolonial states, namely that they shut down their literary and cultural development themselves, the study attempts to answer the complex question: “what caused the quiet censorship that Emmanuel Nkeeshimaana underwent and why is his works’ dissemination so limited?”

Keywords: oral literature, oral poetry, performance, resistance, resistance literature, postcolonial theory, translation, historical theory, linguistic theory, power iniquity, Burundi literature and history, Ngugi Wa Thi’ongo, Barbara Harlow, Jan Vansina, André Lefévère



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