Agwagas July 6, 1972 - 4A Pokwomo
Place of Recording: Pokwomo (village)
Date of Recording: July 6, 1972
Performance: About 30 men in drinking place (mud-walled thatched roof house)
Information: The recording was made during an ordinary performance. We were invited to listen to the singing within the house from outside the open door. I placed the mike in the entrance of the door. The men were aware of my presence but this had no influence on their performance. The men were around a pot, drinking beer with straws as they sang.
4 A 1 000 Agwaga.
Information: Bulls are mentioned frequently. Fighting and shouting during and after singing. It is the custom to shout. When the Anuak fight, if they hit and kill someone on the other side, they will shout that “I’m the killer of that man.” The property of that man will be taken to the chief. The chief will decide how the stuff will be dispersed. The chief will take the children, ladies, guns, animals and will choose to whom these things will be given. If a man has nothing, he perhaps will be given woman. If people lose men, they will be given demoui or cows. (the retention of people for slaves occurs if the villages refuse to exchange) Otherwise, demoui or other booty will be exchanged for a person. Man may be taken as slaves. There is no fixed price on any one captured.
When fighting has concluded the composer of songs will start mentioning actions in the field. Who the ones were who cried or begged…all are mentioned. Everyone tries his best to be known. Those who did well in the field will seem very proud and their ladies will be very proud. Those who did poorly will not be mentioned or mentioned derisively. When the chief kills a bull, the brave will receive the best parts) the fat or the hump) those not known won’t get much.
Songs will also be made about people who did not do well. The victorious village will make derisive songs about the losing village and its people.
Text: Your place is destroyed.
2 011 Agwaga.
Information: Ojunga killed the Gallas. This war song concerns fighting of the Ethiopian police by Ojunga Ogilo, an Anuak who caused trouble so they fought the police and the police were killed. He was the cause of the death of the Gallas (even though they may have been Amhara. Gallas came here for hunting and Anuaks asked them to pay taxes for the animals they killed in the area. Therefore, this Anuak had contact with the Gallas before. So, all Ethiopians are called Gallas. It is easy to investigate what happens in the Anuaks because the event and those involved are mentioned in the songs. The Anuaks do not deny or try to hide this.
Father of Ojunga is called a beggar – he begs the Gallas. So, this is a song against Ojunga, the police, and his father. The police have agreed to give Ojunga flour, goal and chickens but he I still unsatisfied and causes trouble. Shout: his bull – people are called after their bull. A bull is special. People take the characteristics of the bull.
Text: Repeated; Ojunga killed the Gallas.
3 042 Agwaga.
Information: Confused singing – words are not clear. Against Ebago and what happened in the battlefield. When you fight a village, when you return to your own village, the song is formed according to the activities. Ebago will also make a song. Fighting may have been strong on both sides. Would be courageous men on both sides even though the side would have lost. Either side would have been happy to kill courageous men on the other side therefore reducing the strength of the opposing village. And so those strong, courageous men will be mentioned in the song of either side. If a lesser man is killed would not be mentioned but a brave man would gain recognition.
Quina wars – begging the chief to give something. These songs are made for the chief) though they are war songs). Composer will mention the chief in a prominent way along with the brave fighters. So, a song can be dated if the chief’s term is remembered. The composer will also mention something that he wants from the chief or anyone else in the song. (If I’m given this, I will be very glad.) and the chief will give the composer something; perhaps not what he has asked for; but something. Therefore, the composer will take advantage of the fact that he is writing the song and is in control of the words, therefore he will ask for something as a part of the song.
4 092 Agwaga.
Information: A song against the Nuers. Anuaks have planned to ambush the Nuers. Peaceful, the Anuaks asked if the Nuers were coming back and they replied that they would be. The Anuaks built a strong wall around the whole village. When the attack comes, people inside the walls would fire from holes made in the walls looking out at the enemy. Years ago, when fighting each other, all had walls. Anuaks were not scattered and many were behind the wall. If they had lived alone, they would have been killed. Songs announces plans of other villages to destroy the fences of the village.
Ebago mentioned indirectly. They were warring against Ebago at that time. From songs gathered in Ebago we should be able to find a song made by them against the village of Pokwomo.
5 132 Agwaga.
Information: A song against Ebago and Pumoli. The chief of Ebago was killed at that time, therefore we hear the word “thoe” which means death. Also, can be heard “tong” which is a general call of fighting. Tong is the name for speaker so can also meaning fighting. Others were also killed beside the chief. This took place at about the time of the Second World War about 25 years ago. This (as were others) song was made when the fighting was finished. The composer was ready to form the song in the week after the fighting was over. He mentions the happenings of the fighting. What caused the fighting, those who were successful and so forth. Songs formed on both sides, those who were successful and those who were defeated…those who were defeated find face saving feats among their men to be mentioned in their songs. This is taken as encouragement for that village even though they lost.
Text: Our fighting is successful. Comment – at the end of this song it is directed toward me: “You American. Go with these songs. These are enough. Go to America with them. We are tired of singing.”
6 165 Agwaga.
Information: Another song against Ebago and Pumoli. Pokwomo is a troublesome village. (They have defeated Ebago and Pumoli). Are taunting these villages: Why don’t you come and attack us, why do you fear us. Reminding them to come and attack. Are daring them to attack though they are weak.
Pokwomo was powerful before the Ethiopian government had effective jurisdiction in this area. During the Second world War, the Ethiopian government was inoperative because of the Italian invasion. The Italians employed many Anuaks and Black people in their army for fighting the rest of Ethiopians. When the war ended, Ethiopia reformed their government and began to rule the land. When they became strong enough, they exerted their strength against the villages and stopped the tribal fighting from village to village. They seized rifles, chiefs were arrested and tortured, arms were taken. But even now there is some fighting between villages. There are revenge motives from previous conflicts. But there is not as much fighting as before. If village fights village the clans within the village will join together and the whole village will be involved. Arms will be used If the disagreement is between clans within the village arms will not be used but rather sticks will be employed. The chief will call a general meeting and the problem will be solved. The individual will be beaten or things will be taken from him depending on what his misdeed was. The mention of the name of Pokwomo the powerful village. If the opposing village does something against Pokwomo they will hide in the corn in ambush. They will be hiding in the corn, spying and ready to attack: when do they come out and in the walls. How powerful are they, what is a safe way of getting to the fence? Determine a certain time for reaching the area of attack
Text: “Pumoli village ran away.” “’Pumoli abok.” (Comment at end: You the American, go with this…we are finished.)
7 207 Dancing Song. (July 6, 1972 Pokwomo)
Information: Performance: One man and one drummer on gourd in open area between drinking places. Cross reference composer of July 18, Tierlul. Recording made at special performance for collector.
The singing dancer is praising his bull He is actually praising himself with the dancing and the singing. Certain sections mention his birthplace, mentions a certain tree, the bulls of the grandfather, and father. I’m the son of this kind of bull. This song is composed by the singer.
The reference to bull is important: in the general dancing, everybody dances, the girls in a line, the young men in a line. The girls come and chose the men they like. When they chose the boys, they want to dance with they mention in their singing their grandfathers and fathers’ bulls. The boy will do the same to the girls, mentioning his grandfathers and fathers’ bulls. At the same time praising each other. These actions actually show if the individuals involved are from the same clan to see if they are related. To make things enjoyable they praise themselves and at the same time will come automatically to the knowledge of their relation by talking about the bulls. If they discover that they are from the same family, they then stop dancing with each other. When another village comes to dance, people will find out their relation by talking about the bulls of the family and will be mentioning where the man comes from. If a man is from a certain place, he will discover from which section the man is from. Have different names for the sections. Paul’s section is in the Sudan. There are some of Paul’s relatives here. He can tell because they have the particular name of the section that is the one Paul has in the Sudan. They therefore won’t go together. In the praising part of the dance, the lady would mention the same name as would Paul. So, they would realize their relationship and not go together.
Text: The bull has eyes that are bright by night and he is comparing the colors of the bull with the colors of other animals.
8 294 Obero. (July 6, 1972 Pokwomo)
Information: Obero for a chief. Performers: 20-30 men assembled in a grass walled and roofed house across area from drinking house. Recording made of singing already going on but with the knowledge of those inside.
An Obero song for the chief. Sung by a very fine leader with great intensity. Begging the chief stating his difficulties. If an Obero for a dead chief it would not be allowed in general dancing a song of praise to a chief either alive or dead. The song will be telling of the difficulties of the person: very poor, needs something. Perhaps the chief’s assistants will be asked to talk with the chief so they are put in the song. “let him give me” or the chief’s wives will be mentioned as well. Wil sing and shout a man first a lady next a friend of man next, etc. if the composer will ask the lady, she may also give something to him. The Obero is mainly for the chief, begging: telling of his kindness, goodness, nothing bad. Criticism would not be put in.
Accordingly, in dancing, in Paul’s area, the Obero is used in dance in the general dancing whether it is for a chief that is still alive or for one that has died. Here, there is separation. Obero is made for living man is put into the general dancing. If the chief has died the song would not be put into the general dancing. The Obero then is specially made for the chief to beg him for whatever the singer wants from the chief. If his song sounds good to the chief, he will get something. If not, he will not get something.
The Aguaga differs. Forming of the sing is not really different. War songs are used for Agwaga. The Obero is not a war song. The Agwaga tells of the bravery of the chief in the fighting and of the ones fighting and also of the character of the village involved.
In the dance, a circle will be formed. The people will be in the circle sitting, the leader making the song running around the circle singing many songs, old and new. These will be special songs which the chief likes. Then the chief will come in a certain manner: decorated with a certain hat with different kinds of beads, feathers, ostrich feathers which other people could not wear. He will wear this hat, bring special spears, shield as if the chief is coming for war. The chief will go into the center of the circle and those making the songs will encircle him. Ladies will be begging him with the cupped hand motion. When finished, he will go back, change clothes and come again 3 or 4 times. Then everything will stop, he will praise the bulls of grandfathers and fathers. When he finishes, then everything will be finished. The people will play act with guns as if in fighting showing their bravery. After this there will be general dancing. When making the Agwaga, they cannot sit in a circle, singing songs while he is standing. The chief inside the circle is hardly seen by any observer. In Paul’s area this is quite different. There the chief can be seen as the people are seated.
9 374 Agwaga.
Information: Against Pingngweo. From Pokwomo.
10 408 Agwaga.
Information: Against Pumoli. Mentions the action that took place.
11 449 Agwaga.
Information: Against Pumoli and against Pingngweo. In the song, mentions something good for the chief so that they may not be in trouble with the chief. If another man makes a song against the village, they will tell the weakness of that village and anything bad that they can say about it
Text: The chief was like his father. He has been a good man like his father. The crocodile: the chief bull praised and the crocodile stands for the chief. That crocodile prevents the people from getting water from that village. He stayed in that place so no people would get water.
ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – July 6, 1972
Retyped: June 6, 2019
9:30-10:45 Taping session with Carl Templin discussing elements of the Anuak culture.
11:00 Leave for Pokwomo and is our custom, sit under tree to wait for instruction, visitation, or whatever. We have come to speak to the assistant chief about the requests notably by the women about payment for their services performed on the 4 and 5 of July. Because the two villages are related and ruled by one chief, the same faces keep popping up in both places. The thought of concentrating on only one or two individuals at a time is discussed between Paul and myself as we wait for word of the chief’s arrival. Since he is slow in appearing, we discuss other matters.
There are many clans in a village (meaning of clan uncertain) they solve marriage problems and if solved peacefully the chief will not interfere. (Clan – same blood)
Meaning of Anuak: a united tribe. Nuka to eat together, being united. Do things in a united and not separated way. “to share”. Eat, play and go around together. Growth: long ago were more in number; but fought with themselves. Evidence of deserted villages of great size. Many have lost lives along the Sudan. The Anuaks have guns, Nuer do not. The government now prohibits fighting among Nuer and Anuak there are still fights among villages.
Horns on fence posts; from cows of feasts given by chief.
Education; children copy drumming. Observe very little children running while playing. Running in rhythm and making the audible sound of dance. “Dnah dnah.” Therefore, assumption of learning by imitation. No teachers. Everyone tries for themselves which develops into competition. Anyone can do the tricks for themselves. They can copy others.
12:40 Brought to compound in town. Two huts full of men. One mud side and the other the usual grass sides. The drinking house has the mud walls, for coolness. 20-30 men crowded into the small tukul in a circle drinking out of a common pot. Using straws (bamboo shoots) Opero: to drink the beer (ko o) Made out of grain. They sing songs. War songs against a village (Pumoni) and against the Ethiopian police. When they fight, they make songs against the people they are fighting and include the names of the people killed listing them in the song. So, they laughed when they come to the names. This particular battle occurred in this area about the time of the 2nd World War.
1:10 outside, in the compound a man begins singing and dancing to the beat of a gourd turned upside down and played with real skill and variety. Good technique with playing using finger tips, palms of the hands in variety.
1:20 Move into the straw house where men are crowded into the hot room. Perspiration rolling of the black bodies and they singing with great power, let quite expertly by the fellow who refused to sing yesterday. (He was in a bad mood because of fasting or some such reason) Several men stand at intervals to drive home a point or to simulate warlike stances as the singing continues. A very dynamic situation.
2:00 – 2:30 Children involved in dancing and singing in the first area of contact. They sing freely and dance in a tight position around tape recorder. Movement of feet is limited to shuffling. Arm movements are free. Singing is loud and uninhibited but could not be classified as accurate. The drummer sometimes joined by other beats rather simple patterns on a 5(?)-gallon gas can laid flat on the ground. The drums are not used. The chief has to give permission for their use. And this is a rather impromptu dance.