Oral tradition is an ancient art. There are words, pearls of wisdom, secrets too wonderful and weighty for the ink to inscribe. These words, pearls of wisdom and secrets which may be peculiar to a certain group have been put into folk tales, ballads, proverbs, chants, myths, etc, and given a voyage through generations. The successive oral transmission of knowledge and information about a culture or people is the manifestation of oral traditions.
History is replete with accounts of the existence of oral tradition. In sharp contrast to what obtains today, the people of old never had the luxury of documenting their ideas, laws, norms, history, etc, on paper, on tape, or having a Word Processor. Not many knew much about writing. They mainly relied upon oral traditions where information merely moved by word of mouth.
Even most religious documents are said to have been put on paper after they were first passed on by word of mouth from those who had knowledge of the religious traditions which were also passed on to them through word of mouth. This was the reason that the role of a scribe was highly renowned in the centries behind us.
And a look at oral traditions brings back to mind the moonlights or the campfire discussions of the nights. They were moments for communal exchange of food and love. No one wished to be left out. But modernity has deprived us of such nights where families came together to engage in the art of oral tradition. Nowadays everybody seems to be too busy to pay attention to oral tradition; parents are busy with making ends meet, while the kids will ever be busy with their academic work or be watching cartoon on television or by browsing through the internet with their phones.
Further; “like other forms of intangible cultural heritage, oral traditions are threatened by rapid urbanisation, large-scale migration, industrialisation, and environmental change. Books, newspapers and magazines, radio, television, and the Internet can have an especially damaging effect on oral traditions and expressions. Modern mass media may significantly alter or over replace traditional forms of oral expression.
Epic poems that once took several days to recite in full may be reduced to just a few hours and traditional courtship songs that were sung before marriage may be replaced by CDs or digital music files.” (https://ich.unesco.org/en/oral-traditions-and-expressions-00053). But we can still strike a balance with modernity.
We may not have the luxury of large family gatherings but within the nuclear family, there can be moments of manifesting the art of oral traditions. Imagine the benefits should the elderly ones in society take it upon themselves to pass down to the youths the secrets of success that were helpful to them when they were young too.
Parents can also adopt the practice of making use of riddles at home in order to toggle the minds of the young ones thereby encourage the skill of problem-solving to them. Oral tradition is still relevant even in the 21st Century.