I'm David Osterlund. After 11 years of public school teaching in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I and my family taught for 4 years (1969-1973) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While in Ethiopia, I developed the first indigenous hymn book of the Amhara people. We also were able to live among the Anuak people for a very full summer and study their music and culture. Now, 50 years later I am able to share many of my cultural and musical findings of this complex and rewarding society. (After all, the word ANUAK means to share).
The Anuak are a crop growing, Nilotic tribe with population estimated at 50,000 who inhabit a territory along the southwestern borders of Ethiopia. In 1972-73 I spent a summer living in Pokwo (near Gambela) making audio recordings, taking photographs, holding interviews, and generally getting to know about this remarkable group of people. Now, many years later, I return to my field notes, interviews, translations, audio recordings, and photos so I can share this legacy with the Anuak living in the United States as well as those still in their homeland.
This Web site includes all that went into the research process. Additionally, the results of that research are now summarized in The Anuak Legacy, a 2022 updating of the thesis prepared in 1978. Here you can find more about the Anuak tribe, its long history connected to the ancient past, and its current history fraught with war and resettlement. You can explore the social and cultural characteristics of the Anuak people - discovering how they viewed and interacted with their world, and how their music revealed their history, beliefs, and folkways. There is material here for the linguist, the historian, and the casual reader.
I hope that you will find this experience to be enriching as you explore lullabies, hymns, love songs, dancing songs, boasting songs, songs in praise to the chief and war songs. You will find idea- for- idea translations of all of the songs and in several cases, word-for-word translations. In several occasions more than one translation is included. Most of the texts are as my informant stated - as the recording was played back in second language English. Those interested in research, culture, history, and language will find much to explore. I expect that the texts of the songs will reveal the culture and the history of villages and individuals, and be a source of discovery and pride for the present day Anuak culture. If you have comments that you would like to share with me, I can be reached at email@example.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 27, 1972 - Village of Tierlul, Nyigwo Nyang singing Love Songs
The Anuak Legacy of Music includes songs to be used as -
Lullabies and children songs
July 27, 1972 - Tierlul - I am recording a fine young (about 12) singer, Nyigwo Nyang as he sings love songs accompanying himself on a gallon gasoline-can being used as a drum. The men are sitting around watching me, this stranger, with his microphone and recorder - they have never seen anything like this before. When the tape runs out, I play it back so everyone can hear to their delight as Nyigwo sings and plays again on the tape. Day after day for 6 weeks, I did this over and over as musicians came to sing and play.
2. We can explore the use of instruments including -
3. We can review the complete collection chronologically