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Songs Of The Bayege (Elephant Hunters)

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Chapter Summary

An important and fascinating Sukuma musical labor association, active primarily in the nineteenth century, was the elephant hunters association, popularly known as the bayege, literally translated as those who diagnose, or predict. This association is recognized today as an important and influential source of varied music-related practices, and their expressive culture is remembered in several current ritual and labor-related contexts. Elephant hunting was profitable and required exceptional hunting skills and courage, as well as extensive diagnostic knowledge about the elephants seasonal migratory habits. Bayege songs performed on the road were humorous and celebratory songs, which commended hunters for work well done, and boasted of the bravery, strength, and resilience required for the hunt. The majority of buyege songs, however, praise the elephant. Finally, some of the buyege songs along with their interpretation is presented.

Keywords: buyege songs; elephant hunters association; Sukuma musical labor association



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