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Songs Of The Baja Nyalaja (Lake Eyasi Salt Caravaners)

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Chapter Summary

The first Sukuma and Nyamwezi trading expeditions were local journeys controlled by chiefs, who oversaw the redistribution of trade goods like iron hoes, salt, ivory, and disc shells. Salt caravans proved an important interregional economic undertaking. These were known as baja nyalaja, or those who go to lake Nyalaja, the saline Eyasi lake that is south of the Serengeti immediately southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater in the Crater Highlands. Mimbo ga baja nyalaja, or baja nyalaja songs were typically short repeatable call-and-response choruses. They praised the caravaners for their bravery, gave instruction on how to prepare for the journey, outlined the journeys inconveniences on personal family life, ridiculed those who abandoned the journey en route, and reminded travelers of the dangers of the road. The two songs presented in the chapter are from the perspective of a polygynous man.

Keywords: baja nyalaja songs; Eyasi lake; Nyamwezi trading expeditions; salt caravans; Sukuma trading expeditions



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