FOCUS Page 1 Olok Okae sings an Historic Agwaga

01 Track 1.mp3

The Setting: Olok Okae, a mature song leader and composer, performs Agwagas. Field Notes of July 25, 1972 describe the setting:

1:00 p.m. We arrive at our place of recording in Pokwo and meet with a man who has come up river earlier in the day. He has come with the expressed purpose of singing. His name is Olok Okae from Cham, an older man, very dignified in appearance, proud in bearing, and very ready to sing. he is a singer from a village where he is no longer living. therefore, it has been a long while since he has been able to lead a village in singing. The songs he knows are not known by the village where he is at present. In addition, being a foreigner to the village where he is now living, he has not been called on to sing. And so, he is coming full of songs and anxious to begin.

We sit down immediately. He seats himself on the mat in front of us and begins with great power and fervency. As he continues one song after another, the sweat begins to pour off his face and down his short beard. He lifts his shirt to cool himself, but he keeps on singing. The only reason he stops at first is for me to change the tape.

The Song: This historic Agwaga is one of the oldest Agwagas existing. The dancing songs, love songs and others die out quickly but Agwagas are remembered. This song dates from before the Italian occupation. (before 1935) and is one of the oldest Agwagas now known. A leader called Warabwoola had engaged a beautiful girl from Cham. The king of Cham also wanted to engage the girl. Because of this Warabwoola wanted to fight the king of Cham. This song praises the king of Cham.

Text: How powerful we were to be able to kill a man by Warabwoola’s side. He was eaten by a vulture. When we came back from the war, our king’s wife saw our hunger. We were very hungry. She gave us something to eat and to drink. She is our mother. When we go to attack another village, we will never be defeated.