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Songs Of Reciprocal Village Labor

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Chapter Summary

Before the colonial epoch, the mutual aid and village age-grade associations performed every manner of farm labor in the Sukuma region. These associations were known as the kisumba or basumba. One of the oldest and most common types of Sukuma kisumba labor was buyobe or 'neighbor's help'. A common attribute of kisumba songs is to encourage the farmer to work hard, and to shame those who do not. Manhe songs are generally concerned with gossip, marriage, family, and life cycle issues. Through song, women are able to express their ideas and feelings, on topics which they may feel could get them into trouble if placed and perceived in everyday discourse. In the past forty years, the dance has lost its associations with competitive performance and has become known strictly as a reciprocal aide farmers assistance association.

Keywords: basumba songs; kisumba songs; reciprocal village labor; Sukuma region

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