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Songs Of Balimi (Farmers) Concerning Disease, Drought, And Famine

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Chapter Summary

In the Sukuma oral tradition the distant past is reckoned by older generations in epochs demarcated by the reigns of chiefs, as well as by catastrophic events such as epidemics, droughts, and famines. Sukuma farming songs which commemorate calamity, have an intertextual quality, in that verses and poetic images from songs of previous generations can be re-appropriated and creatively applied in novel ways to meet the needs of the current situation. One theme that emerges from these songs is the despair about the circumstances that the calamity brings, admonishment for the lazy farmer who lets famine get the best of him, and praise for the hardworking farmer who survives against all odds. The four songs in the chapter discuss surviving the nzala ya magembe, which occurred in the mid-1970s. HIV/ADIS has evolved from being rare and new disease to a common household problem, which has affected most Tanzania families.

Keywords: disease; droughts; famines; Sukuma farming songs; Tanzania



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