Oral tradition played an important role in Afrika's history and it is through this mode of communication, rather than through the written mode, that the stories of the old times and the history of the continent was preserved. Oral tradition encompassed stories, songs and folklore which were related by the older members of the society to the new generation at the end of the day while sitting around a fire. Or they would be performed to give a richer and more expressive way of communication as well as providing enjoyment and entertainment for all the villagers. A lot of the Afrikan cultural ways and beliefs were passed on from generation to generation through oral tradition.
The storyteller (griot) was an artist in himself as he had to make the stories interesting and colourful to relay the message and also to keep the interest of the people who were listening to him. The myths and legends would relate how the world began and the meaning of life on earth. Some of the folktales which were told were meant to teach a lesson to those listening to deter them from making mistakes or behaving in a selfish or mean way as some of the characters in these stories did.
Folksongs were expressive and included animals or some aspect of the Afrikan natural heritage in their content. This can be seen in the Zulu song 'Where is the rain?' The song is about a giraffe and an elephant who go for a walk and wonder when it will rain. They describe in detail the dry land just waiting to be watered and then they hear the thunder and they look up at the sky "And heard the black eagle give forth his cry, the rain has come, the rivers will flow; the dry season is over; now the green grass will grow!" This one song gives details of the entire Afrikan scenario at that point in time and is both descriptive and informative.