Folklore is found to be a favourite indigenous resource for an African novelist that s/he draws on for moulding the aesthetic concerns in novel writing. Considerable critical interest has grown around analysing the nuances of oral tradition, society and the novel in the context of Africa. Critics like Obiechina confirm that the oral tradition has survived in West Africa in spite of the introduction of ‘writing’ as a Western phenomenon and a foreign tradition which it bears. In West Africa (like other parts of the continent), elements of folklore such as stories, proverbs, dance, song, rituals, and ceremonies provide a medium for experiencing reality. This paper is an attempt to study the importance and use of folklore in the writings of two novelists hailing from Nigeria, namely Amos Tutuola and Ben Okri through a reading of their select novels. Separated by decades, folklore is found to play an integral part in their writings, though their use of this resource is intricate and varied. A writer does not write in vacuum; both Tutuola and Okri are acutely alive to their contemporary realities. This study is focussed on Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard and Okri’s The Famished Road to show how the folkore is employed in their novels to comment on different times and changing situations.
Key words: Folklore, oral tradition, West-African writings.