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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From 'Dancing to Porcupines' to 'Rwirling a Hoe': Musical Labor Transformed in Sukumaland, Tanzania
Author:Gunderson, Frank
Periodical:Africa Today
Geographic term:Tanzania
farmers' associations
work songs
traditional music
Architecture and the Arts
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/africa_today/v048/48.4gunderson.pdf
Abstract:In the Sukuma area of northwest Tanzania, farmer-musicians, or farmers who compose and perform music, introduce themselves in public interactions first as farmers, with the phrase 'I am a farmer, I hold a hoe', and second as performers, with the phrase 'I am also a dancer, I twirl a hoe'. Identification with music operates on many psychological and cultural levels from childhood to old age, and is reinforced and expressed most cogently in farmers' use of song during cotton farming. Cotton farming is a relatively recent chapter in Sukuma history, a result of (and creative response to) British colonial government requirements between the two world wars. A new farming class emerged, which drew on prior musical labour fraternities such as medicinal societies, hunting societies, porters, and military organizations for their personnel, musical repertory, and dance paraphernalia. The Sukuma made the imposition of long-distance migrant labour and cotton cropping their own by making these labours musical. The author discusses how Sukuma farmers developed musical farming from these prior musical labour practices, and provides several examples of this transformation. The study is based on fieldwork done in 1989, 1993, 1994-1996 and 1999. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. (Journal abstract)