INSTRUMENTAL Aug 24, 1972 - 38A(39) Mbira & Anuak Thom Addis
Place of Recording: Addis Ababa
Date of Recording: August 24, 1972
Performance: Opiti Cham from Gambela
Informant: Agwa Alemo
Date of Transcript: April 21, 1973
1 000 Dancing song from Gok. Solo with Anuak thom.
Information: General idea of this kind of dancing. When they boast in dancing form, they use this form. Modern type of dancing. When Gok and Pinyudo insult each other with the thom the tunes of the thom sound like modern sounds. The ladies practice dancing with this. Improving as they practice)
Text: When Ningyoni was leader of the Anyanya he planned to go from the headquarters to another place. In the dancing they say Ningyoni is going to a far place. The girl I am looking for refused to go with me to a far place. When she pounds corn, it sounds like the Anyanya when they shoot bullets. The girl which is given to a rich man was supposed to be mine. She has already been given to a rich man.
2 054 Love song.
Information: From Abobo or Dhoring or Chobo. The same town with three names.
Text: We swear I the name of our king. When the autumn comes, there will be the place for the examination. Answer: the exam will be in our village. A dancer came who plays our drum in the radio. When the starvation comes our wives will still have much grain while other places are suffering from starvation. That girl seems like the one I have (The girl was not near the boy but was far away from him. When he looks at her, she seems like the one he has) A daughter of a king. I’m surprised the daughter of a king. She is being praised. Repeats. She seems like the one I have. She looks like the daughter of the king. (When you don’t identify the girl you are having, when she comes near to you, you will explain to your friends this girl is surprising me because she looks like the one, I had.) (Daughters of the kings are named after areas of flat rocks where water collects in the forest.) One boy mentioned, OKIEW. When he shot, he shot with a Somali gun.
3 147 Love Song.
Information: When you admire your girlfriend in different forms.
Text: When she walks, she walks like the king wife. Repeats. When I see her, I don’t feel cold, I feel hot. (Means: when you see her, your heart will be beating and the circulation will increase) If you neglect me why don’t you tell me. I got a better one than you. Repeats. The husband of the girl says when he went to Nuer area, he saw his girlfriend between the cattle. (A form of insult. Nuers who are nomads who don’t have a permanent place to stay, why did they marry such a beautiful girl) I’m fed up with the talk of the rich man. Repeats the last part. Sees girlfriend between the cattle in the village of KOTGAR. Village of the Nuer.
4 253 Old song.
Information: Old men used to play the thom at night. Very old song and a very interesting one melodically.
Text: When I sleep, I dream of a spear a spear of the Shullik. Repeats. Admiring any girl. Meaning of the old men is different. A certain tree and some girls are named after that tree. Tree named BODO. BOT is plural. Admires a girl named after that tree. Girls name is TONG the granddaughter of CHAM. Repeats this many time. (When my grandfather played that kind plays and shakes his leg in time. Can be in the form of dancing. Shake their leg. Beats
5 319 Love song.
Information: The name ABUNG at the beginning is the name of a girl but can be a common name for any girl. (also, can be the third one of the children) Any girlfriend you have can be named Abung. Anuak thom as are the ones above. (Those who went to the highlands when because of injera, means they have nothing to eat at home. Means they are very poor. Are students) (Song like those in Anuak area, if you are not understood, you must repeat it many times. Eventually the meaning will soak in. though they insult you at first. They will eventually understand)
Text: Don’t turn away from the rich person. When you live with a rich person you will be in a good life. When you be with a poor boy, he can steal some money and the debt will be on you. When I heard the death of the poor boy, I didn’t consider it. It had no meaning to me. I ignored it. Those poor boys who went to Gallas area they went because of injera. A poor boy must be pulled away and his pillow must be thrown away after him also. (Means the poor boy can do nothing) when I die who will cry for me. ACAN will cry for me. Repeats.
6 434 Thom. Wire thom.
Information: Song sung for a person coming from hunting. Very fine player. Instrumental.
Text: Repeats came from hunting, came from hunting.
7 485 Wire thom.
Information: Instrumental number. Very rhythmic number.
Text: When the young boy insults the rich man, he’s proud I his position. I’m surprised of the pride of the rich man. When I see my girlfriend, I see the proud rich man at the same time. The boy is poor and doesn’t have money to pay for his wife. The rich people are making themselves proud. If the wife of the poor boy can be given to them. Making themselves so the girl can be brought to them. Repeats. When I see my ABUNG or my girlfriend, she is not supposed to be given to a rich man.
8 592 Wire thom.
Information: (In our area, the girl will be given to a rich person when that man comes to collect his wife. To take the girl with him, the girl will refuse to go with the rich man. This rich man will decide something about her saying, you refuse because of your husband which you have in secret or illegally) The parents of that girl will beat the girl and she will never be able to eat or drink. She will be very angry. In the afternoon when she gets time, to see her illegal husband, they will discuss what happened, she will say why don’t you take me to a very far place so I won’t see my parents any more. If the boy is fearless, he will take her. If he thinks he will get nothing to pay for her, he will keep quiet and say nothing. (Mothers can marry 2 or 3 or 4 husbands, first husband if he dies, she will marry another, or be with the relatives of her husband. If the first husband has 2 or 3 sons, the second husband of the lady may dislike them. Those boys will plan to go very far away. Sometimes they will advise mother not to marry another husband if they can farm for her.) (Makes confusion in the area when the second husband dislikes the boys. They will go away) He is then not responsible for their marriage. Some will take good care of them.)
Text: Sometimes also if she doesn’t get time to see her husband, she will send a message to him. The boy will answer by saying you just get her for me because I’m planning to go for a long journey Repeating. I’m going on a long journey.
9 739 Love Song. Instrumental.
Information: Very clear taping of this one.
Text: I would like to sing a song for my girl friend or ABUNG. Repeats.
10 841 Love song.
Text: I advise you that you are not supposed to be given to this man who has a distended stomach. Or one who has a large testicle. Like a gourd. Repeats. The girl ignores the boy’s advice. Given to an old man, she was beaten. I advise you, you are not to be given to an old man with testicles like a gourd.
11 982 Instrumental number, very good clearly taped. This is the song that the modern dancing comes from. Song formed between Gilo River and Gok.
Information: A man from Gilo river married a certain girl from gok whose names AKOTI.
Text: The young boys of Gok were jealous about her. Exchange insults. AKOTI was not supposed to be married by a man with evil eyes. PINYUDO is a bad village because you can share mosquito net with the prime minister. The people of PINYUDO replied, Nile perch is like algae from Gok. The chief of Gok refused to take his teeth out because there will be nothing with which he can eat the heads of rats. People from Gok say, we refuse to live where there is swamp of mosquitos.
12 1103 Love song. Short vocal parts with the thom.
Information: (If a boy wants to marry a girl, if he dislikes her, he will refuse and the girl will be very angry. She will inform her parents, that boy refused to marry me while he has destroyed me already. Parents of the girl will come and will argue by saying, if you are my wife, who did I send to you. If there is no one being sent to her, they will say she is a liar or she is not telling the facts to her parents. They will say nothing and go back home.) But if there is somebody who was being seen sent to her, the parents of the girl will beat the boy very heavily.)
Text: Marriage doesn’t make any difference, don’t bend my words down, we have to say the truth. Whom did I call you with? Repeats. Marriage doesn’t make any difference. Don’t turn or bend my words down. Repeats.
13 1218 Love Song.
Information: Replay from Gok insulting PINYUDO.
Text: What a bad village. Which food you eat can be digested by beating you. (food will never be digested gradually as usually but it can be digested by beating your stomach) Because of the mosquitos They are slapping mosquitoes while they eat. Repeats.
ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – August 24, 1972
Retyped: June 20, 2019
Using the Anuak thom and the wire thom. Opiti Cham from Gambela. 19 years old. Asfa Wossen Comprehensive School (secondary) 10th grade. Father played with the Anuak thom when he was small, so he learned from him. He would play by himself. Opiti learned by watching and listening only. Father said that when he was very small, he would pick up Opiti when he was crying and put him on his knee and then play for him and he would stop crying and go to sleep. No young generation playing the Anuak thom. This is the real Anuak thom.
The Thom was Invented in Anuak area. 3 tribes played: Shilluk, Anuak, and Nuers. But the Anuak were the first to discover it. Small thom: 3 ways where it came from. From Nayyem tribe in southern Sudan. Played also in Central Africa. Used mostly by Masengo tribe. Masengo tribe learned from Anuak. Anuak got it from the Nayyem during theWW2.
1 00 Dancing song from Gok by Oleng, about 20 years old. The journey of Ojulo’ s son. He is a poor man so he married but didn’t get money to pay for his wife so he said it is better for me to go away. I’m not fit to be here because I’ so poor.
2 028 By a girl from Chobo called Alito. Dancing song, she is 16. A new song. We are searing now on the name of Maj Hunger, we ae going to chase hunger away. At the of this song there was a very much hunger in the village, people were suffering from this hunger. No corn or maize. Then they got the food, and they were happy. This was the last of the hunger. We are going to chase it away.
3 077 Dancing song. When she walks, she seems like a queen? I didn’t know that you were lazy like this. (In Anuak area, some of the ladies don’t know to cook) so when I saw you, you looked like a queen. I didn’t know you were so lazy. A new song. He learned it while in Gambela. Possibly from Gok area by Oleng.
4 132 The war will not last. Invented by the old people by Othino from Adongo, an old song. Wherever I go the war will follow. Agwaga.
5 165 Abung name of the girl. By Oling. For his wife. Don’t turn your face from the rich man, you have to concentrate on looking on him, accept this man the rich man, when you live with the rich man you will not suffer or get into difficulty. You will be in a comfortable life. If you try to live with a poor man you will be put in the prison instead of him because he will run away. I heard that the poor man has died, but it doesn’t matter let him die. I don’t mind.
6 225 From southern Sudan. Moro song. (Moro tribe) For marching.
7 252 Dancing song. From Gok. Anuak song. Saying, I’m going away (telling his wife) I wonder all these things. If I change my mind I will not be coming back. I’m going on a single journey. No coming back.
8 307 Same as above, this one with words, the other instrument only. A little changed. Tell me to know that you quit me for good and let me go away. If you don’t love me, I’m going on a single journey (repetition) Don’t yell me if I go away is caused by my poorness. (Don’t say why does he go away, why does he do this, why does he leave his country and go away.)
9 384 I will change my country for her and go to her country called Okuna. This song from Okuna. An Anuak song.
10 437 Okama song. Let me tell you my life history. As I see you, you are not fit to live with an old man or to be an old man’s wife. Otherwise, I will knife him. Okama song is different from dancing songs. When people dance, girls and ladies go to the men, then people go in lines, girls follow the one they choose. From Ajwara by Kwot.
11 510 I’m very happy, what can I tell you. Known my going is very near (repeats) Saying this to the girl, I’m so happy what can I tell you, my going is near. From Gok, a love song.
12 574 You have to tell me the truth. Don’t say that this man has married me. It doesn’t matter. You are not my wife. Whom did I send to you, who is my delegate to speak for me? I didn’t ask you for any single word. I don’t want you. A love song. (Used to confuse the girls) This song to confuse girls. From Okuna.
13 634 (All these songs instrumental or not have words.) Means the food. When people finish eating their lunch, they will not stay without any mosquito net. If they are outside, they will beat their bodies. In that place people used to digest their food by beating their stomach. (Caused by mosquitos) Song against the village of . From gok. A song while sitting, sung during a dance. A soft dance.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ANUAK THOM AND THE SMALL THOM(Mbira)
Large thom: Kind of wood: Orogo wood for the belly.
Bracing: Obello wood: framework.
Strings; Nylon, old people use giraffe muscle tendons.
Skin covering from buffalo skin and tied with buffalo.
Made by his father, in 1970.
Learned first on small thom in childhood. Played the large thom for 2 years. Learned this from an old man called Gora from Pinbungo (Pirbungu). Learned by observation. He stars playing at 7 till midnight. Opiti watched how he played listening to the tune. With one he touches and gives such a sound. Etc. He became happy with him, when he learned song from him. Spent one week went to Pokwo and worked in the clinic, practiced by himself without instructor. People because very interested, when to dance place, people became very interested, when he doesn’t have work, he carries it with him.
Bridge called: Gwok,
Strings: first string is called ajam, other strings, 4th string is allwela. 6 does not have names. First is ajam because of the sound being low. 4th allwela because it is high. The 4th string is the beginner of the song. First is the helper. The one that indicates the pitch of note that are singing with. Never changes the pitch by fretting or pressing like a guitar.
Strings are changed according to the song. But all the songs sung today, no changes were made:
Low 1: A;2 #; 3 D flat; 4 B 5 A 6 F#