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Songs Of The Basungusungu (Village Vigilante Associations)

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Chapter Summary

Since the late 1970s, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Tanzanian government suffered one major economic crisis after another. Rising cynicism and public outrage over this has led to the organization of associations in the Sukuma region known as sungusungu, vigilante groups who track down thieves and administer quick justice. This chapter contains songs associated with these village groups. These are songs that ridicule and debase all types of criminals, especially cattle rustlers. In the 1980s and early 1990s, sungusungu songs received considerable airplay on the official government radio station, Radio Tanzania. The songs are sung on farms, and they make good drinking songs. Their song repertoire praises local leaders and vigilante heroes, and like the millet-beating song genre known as itula, their songs berate those who would live off the labor of others and turn to thievery.

Keywords: sungusungu songs; Tanzanian government; village vigilante associations



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