Dudbul (Dancing) & Nirnam (Boasting)

Dudbul (Dancing) Songs The Anuak have a large body of songs called Dudbul that are performed in the village dancing situations. The Dudbul serve some of the same functions as those of the love songs and Oberos in that they are used in the village dances. But they are longer than the love songs and instead of praising the chief and the leaders of the village exclusively, the Dudbul will include praise for many people in the village, involving those in the gift giving process. the Dudbul may include historical references to battles fought and the bravery and beauty of the people involved but they are used mostly as a way to praise the people in the dance. the variety of songs used in the dance are categorized according to certain dance actions that occur in their accompaniment. Some are for marching in a line, others are appropriate for displaying feats of strength and grace, others provide opportunity for general dancing, and others provide opportunity for small groups to dance; all a part of the overall structure of the dance. In each case, a large amount of time is given to the praising of the people by enumerating their various animal names and thereby tracing their kin. Establishing kinship is necessary for purposes of courtship and eventual marriage.

  • Variety of Dancing Songs: the Dudbul or dancing song accompanies a major portion of the dance activity of the Anuak. There are a variety of dancing patterns and accompanying drum beats such as the Okama, Abongo, Alenga, and Koro which can be characterized by their drum beat patterns and accompanying actions.

  • The Age-set and Asking for gifts: the age set is important in this type of dancing. The activity is largely confined to members of the same set of both sexes. Word content for Dudbul is similar to Oberos and Nirnam, in that the chief is begged for certain needs of the singer. In addition, many other individuals in the village are mentioned in the songs. When the Dudbul is sung during the dancing, there are some people when they are mentioned in the song immediately will give a price, a spear, five or ten dollars. Because of that, the people who dance will repeat that part many times to make the person dance, the one that gave something.

  • Praising the people: Much, if not most of the content of the Dudbul, is taken up with the praising of the names of the people and their wives. there are other references on the part of the singer of expecting to get something for the singing of the song. Some references are made about the rich man and the comments are made about the condition of the village rule. but the major content of these songs has to do with the praise of the people.

Nirnam (Boasting or Marching) Songs The Nirnam records the exploits of an age-set in their hunt against a certain animal and their success and bravery in the hunt. they are used to commemorate an exciting practice of a viral time of life. The Nirnam are used to set an age-set apart and to provide a spotlight. The abilities of the group, their skills and particularly their bravery in facing the wild beast are clearly brought to the attention of all who hear them sing. The Nirnam (marching song) so states that they have sworn to abstain from some item of food implying some great act of sacrifice. this also is to establish the status of a particular age-set, putting it above others in the village and drawing people's attention to it. The age-set ingrains its self-identity, and further cements a relationship that lasts throughout life.

  • The Scene: A Nirnam is composed by the young in a village when they agree in refusing something, often salt or beer, or some other item of food until they kill a certain animal. "The men prepare themselves and the girls prepare for the successful hunt by preparing beer for that day when the animal is killed. 'After the animal is killed a song will be formed according to the action. Everyone will be glad; they will return to eating the thing they had sworn not to eat and the song will tell of the exploit." (Field report, July 26, 1972)

  • Boasting: Because marching songs relate the exploits of a group of young people in their success against some animal, the provide an opportunity for a particular age-set to boast of their strength and achieve status and prestige. They boast that they are the top men, that they have been received with cheers. They have displayed their bravery by the killing of a large animal and this deed is for the entire village to see.

  • Text: The text describes the mode of the fighting as well as the object of the battle. Plans are described: they will be let into battle with a flag; they will go in with bullets flying; they will split up and then attack. Fighting an animal provides a surrogate war and in effect heightens the young's desire for violence as well as providing an outlet. The texts describe a form of ritual that the young people take seriously. They swear not to participate in something until their goal is achieved. They may not drink beer, or eat fish or salt; or smoke tobacco until they have accomplished their goal.