Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 11:35 PM
Rabat – The stakes of orality in the preservation of Mvet was the main axis of discussion of the panel held Thursday at the Academy of the Kingdom, under the theme “Ethics and panache in Africa: Allegory of the combat of mortals against immortals ”.
Organized within the framework of an international symposium (March 1-3) placed under the theme “Orality, a privileged register of interlocution or a screen for Africa”, this panel highlighted the characteristics of Mvet, which designates both the harp-zither as well as the heroic stories declaimed by a bard called mbom-mvet (player/storyteller of the Mvet), as well as the issues related to its preservation and the recommended means of transmission and sharing.
Thus, Dr. Angèle Ondo, professor of poetics of African Oral Texts, immediately defined the Mvet as “a long epic poem” declaimed by a master, in the Ekang clan, on the occasion of funerals or retirement ceremonies. of mourning for a man, whose utterance is supported by “the music of the harp, clashing drumsticks and bells”.
Known to be “a cult text”, anchored in the theme of “the quest for immortality of kings and mortal or immortal warriors to deliver the secret of wisdom”, the Mvet uses the detour so that only initiates can grasp the meaning and scope, explained the academic.
She also explained that since the end of the 20th century, the Mvet has been at risk of disappearance due to the death of its great masters while being subject to many obstacles preventing its transmission, namely the ignorance of the Mvet language by the listeners. natives, the demonization of Béri (Ekang language) and the prohibition to celebrate the Mvet ritual, considered “retrograde” by the new religions to which the natives adhere, in addition to the disappearance of the rites taught by the Mvet as well as the adoption of a new way of life radically different from the values and principles of the Ekang civilization.
For his part, Dr. Mathurin Ovono Ebe, Lecturer in Spanish and Comparative Literature, indicated that Mvet is an art that stems from the epic and the exploits of the Ekang, people of immortals who are the mythical extrapolation of Fang people, according to Eyi Ngoco Moan Ndong, Guinean-Ecuadorian mvet master, whose stories have been translated into Spanish and more recently into French.
“The Mvet refers to the musical instrument and to the message of wisdom conveyed in the stories”, underlined Mr. Ovono Ebe, pleading for it to have “an international echo”.
He also made a point of comparing the terms “literature”, which is often sacred, and “orality”, often described as popular or even profane, introducing the neologism “oraliture”, designed to give back to orality its weight, by highlighting value orally transmitted culture such as stories and songs.
For his part, the researcher and university professor François Bingono unveiled the links between the visible and invisible world according to the Mvet, sharing with the audience many “life stories” to explain this interaction.
He underlined the importance of Mvet as “a privileged medium of communication making it possible to go into the world of the dead to find solutions to the problems of the living”.
Initiated within the framework of the activities of the Chair of African Literature and Arts, this three-day symposium proposes to explore the African intellectual wealth by emphasizing oral literature, by bringing together a dozen speakers, including researchers and Moroccan artists and others from Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mauritania, Madagascar, Gabon and Cameroon.