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Songs Of The Balugu (Warriors) And Barugaruga (Mercenaries)

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Chapter Summary

Besides the context of calendar-based ceremony and batemi coronation, an important setting for music in the royal arena had to do with war preparations and war hero celebrations. The Sukuma had celebratory traditions related to stealing cattle from the Maasai. By the mid-nineteenth century, the batemi had to deal with an unusual military force migrating from the south, known as the Bangoni. The Bangoni influenced the rugaruga, and by association the Sukuma- Nyamwezi bapagati, who asserted their cultural influence throughout the region via long-established trade routes during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Rugaruga songs reflected their boisterous and dangerous way of life. In song, they laughed at the how their enemies fled, praised their war-chief Mirambo, reminded themselves of the joys of plunder, and made bold declarations of war. A common thematic motif in barugaruga songs was that of the small bird.

Keywords: Bangoni; barugaruga songs; rugaruga songs; Sukuma region



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