Oberos Jan 14, 1973 - 46A Tierlul

01 Track 1.mp3

Recording Series B 7A

Place of Recording: Tierlul

Date of Recording: January 15, 1973

Performance: Leader in Bura

Informant: Agwa Alemo

Date of Transcript: May 5, 1973

1 000 Obero.

Information: As recorded before. Teaching the song for the second night.

2 054 Obero.

Information: Has not changed any of the words since the previous evening. Sings it exactly the same way. As this side of the tape progress he continues to repeat over and over and the singer becomes stronger and stronger. Still no drums are used. The singing simply continues over and over. Often a great degree of inattention to the singer.

ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – Jan 14, 1973 - Sunday

Retyped: July 5, 2019

Service at Pokwo church. No appointed song leader therefore Mary leads briefly with fairly good results. It seems to me that the joy of worship is seriously lacking as is the simple organizational aspects of the service. (Tape 6, Side B, Last 1/3.)

Evening at 8:30, walk to Tierlul. The glare of flames is close as the nearby fields are being burned. Walk through village, welcomed by children and progress to our normal place in Burra. Wait briefly while we get ready and as people assemble. The singer again stands and leads. Beginning and repeating each of the 8 phrases of his song. After about 30 minutes of fairly good singing, definitely better than last time, he encourages (insults) the singers, especially the children to try harder. They do and sing very well. Group in Burra are the men who belong there. Young boys on one side and the girls on the other. Separation so that the children will behave themselves, this works pretty well though the boys still misbehave and don’t show proper respect and fail to sing well. A group of students, older boys, late teens or early 20s walk by in a line and at a distance, also watch from a distance, they don’t approach. I thought it was because of their education they felt superior to the situation. Paul said, no, not so, they were afraid to approach the Burra being wrongly dressed (western style clothes with shirts and long pants and shoes) they would have to remove these and approach on their knees on danger of being beaten if they did not observe the rules of the Burra. And so, they watch from a distance and did not enter in.

After an extended conversation about having the drums ready for the next performance, we took our leave of the Bura and walked back arriving at home by 10:15. This sort of activity I could never have recorded or gotten on film without the preparation, help and supreme influence of Paul. No college boy or missionary could ever have accomplished as much. They would not have known the respect to our requests nor proposed such activities as we have been privileged to witness.

This was a highly profitable session. (Consult original notes for drawing of the Burra and general scene layout.)

ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – Jan 15, 1973 - Monday

Retyped: July 5, 2019

2:00 p.m. Pokwo. Toks house with many children and chickens. Tape 7B, Last third.

Singer Ojongo Omot from Okuna

  1. General Dancing from Okuna by the singer, 1971.

  2. General Dancing from Okuna by the singer, 1970

  3. General Dancing from Okuna by the singer. 1967)(very short)

  4. General Dancing from Okuna by the singer, 1977 (shout at end.)

  5. General dancing from Okuna by the singer, 1969.

Tape 8A

  1. General dancing from Okuna by the singer, 1964.

  2. Nirnam from Okuna, 3 years by the singer, 1970

  3. Nirnam from Okuna by the singer, 1970.

  4. Nirnam from Okuna by the singer, 1970.

  5. Nirnam from Okuna by the singer, 1970.

  6. Agwaga from Okuna by old man, Odolla, many years old as are following Odolla is the singer’s grandfather.

  7. Agwaga from Okuna by Odolla.

  8. Agwaga from Okuna by Odolla.

  9. Agwaga from Okuna by Odolla.

  10. Agwaga from Okuna by Odolla.

  11. General dancing from Okuna by Odieng (this name is unknown to Paul)

The little children watch people dancing. Small boys watching. Younger watching. Children may learn when they go (boys) out with the cows and the goats. They practice and learn by night. Play in Agwaga. Will try to act as good singers, will try gain in the general dancing. When old people observe that that boy is better to lead people in singing, he was about 12 when he was recognized as a good singer. When he learned his songs, his grandfather died when he was very small.

How does he make his own songs: makes the songs secretly without telling anybody. When he gets the song formed, he goes to a lonely place to practice, there he may make changes. When thoroughly learned he would report to the chief. Then the chief informs the whole village of the song to be practiced.

How long to teach people? Sometimes 10 days or a month if it is very difficult. Probably by night. He says that he forms songs when people are happy. That is for general dancing. For Agwaga: usually if any event, fighting, songs made against village and praising people having success in fighting. Chief would be included in singing.

  1. Obero from Akuna from the dead chief. By the singer 6 years ago. About 65.

  2. Nirnam from Okuna, by the singer.

  3. General Dancing from Okuna by Ojulo.

  4. General Dancing from Okuna (incomplete)


  1. General Dancing from Okuna, repeats the incomplete one. Abowo. Notice whistler in the background.

  2. Obero from Abol. Made while the king was living (The dog should not bark for nothing)

  3. General dancing from Gok. Jo no-Jor by Okok. Extremely long.

  4. General dancing from Abol by Okede. 1959. (3 years before the Sudan movement’s is found in the song. When he was young “The girl you love “

Finish taping at 5:00 and pay $4.00.

8:00 Walk to Tierlul and wait in Burra.

We wait for about 15 minutes as people assemble. The man in charge of the village then begins to beat the drum and the people come more quickly. The crowd swelling as the evening wears on from the 6 or so men originally there to the 200 or so eventually there. The singer eventually comes, having finished his meal. Being unmarried it is very difficult for him as he must live off the kindness of others for meals. This is true of all unmarried, though perhaps harder for him as the people somewhat fear a song writer as he may include their name in a song in a way that is not complimentary, some keep from him. Even those in his own age group who in this case are members of the Burra.

Having had too much to drink, he is active, making gestures as he sings and encouraging the singers very strongly, as the drum beat is added the singing gains great animation. Much more than singing done without the 2 drums (3 are normally used in an Agwaga – but being very heavy and having to be transported from Pokwo, it was not brought) the singing is strong and quite sure with greatest strength coming from the children. Even during the strongest singing however, the boys act up and do not pay attention in spite of threats on the part of the men. It seems that the age group below the Jobura was not present. There seemed to be a large break between ages of participants and those of Burra. Because of drink, his performance is not of the highest nor most serious quality. But the final performance is a long way from the first singing of the song. I believe that the tapes will show a very interesting development from start to finish. We agree on a fee of $15.00. because the chief did not pay him any more than that for the song. He argues that because it is a good song and because I am rich, he should get more, but the matter is closed. I give the money to Paul who gives it to the man in charge. It will be up to the singer to distribute the money as he so pleases, but that is up to him. We leave at about 10:00 and return home by 10:10 after a very full day.