MIX Aug 3, 1972 - 36B Tierlul

01 Track 1.mp3

Recording #36B

Place of Recording: Tierlul

Date of Recording: August 3, 1972


Informant: Agwa Alemo

Date of Transcript: April 20, 1973

1 000 Agwaga.

Information: I’m going to sing a special song. A very good singer a song sung for the whole history of the village. To recall the war of before (Olow – an old song, sung for many generations) I’m the singer of OBWOA. Male voice.

Text: Naming people after their animals and the demoui which are permanent beads who had been given out or lost by ordinary men. (Many be one person who is not a chief who took the place of a chief when the chief was out and he may give out or lost the treasure or another meaning. There may be a wife of the chief who escaped away while they paid much amount for her.) There is a man called AGIRA in the village he said, when he fights, he never lays down. Those who are boasting outside the village may be begged in a way not to boast. When you plant grains, you will be the person who destroyed it because (you know the good soil. And a good place where to plant it Something which is permanent unless somebody knows it there will be nobody who will come and take it out.) I would have informed those clan of my village by saying that we defeated the war we fought. I’m not a real singer and God knows that I’m not a real singer because I’m just after a price from our chief only. Any singer used to be given a price and I must be called in the way that everybody is not aware of it (in a secret way) Starting from a man called GOY nobody defeated our village. Our village was a very large and we cooperated or united to fight those who were against us. The thing which was said before are now still practiced by us. It’s going under change, because of the culture of Galla which comes in the area. (this might be during the Ethiopian-Italian fighting) Agwaga. Repeating the song. (Demoui has two names, Demoui or OGOYA found in the song.)

2 111 Agwaga.

Information: Very interesting song melodically.

Text: A man named after leopard. Those who are boasting have gone away because Pinykiew was defeated. Sung for a group of people chased away by another group. They ran away. Defeated Pinykiew people. Repeats. We threw their guns in the river. They ran to another side of the river. Those whom their grandfathers didn’t sleep in the skin of the lion will never compete with us. (Song sung when Odiel Ojulo a king came to attack Anuaks along the Baro river) I’m begging our leader who defeated and burns the village down. Begging those who support the king and who paid all the things for the marriage of a certain friend. A man named after pelican OCAR or OLMAYI. (Means the animal or the bird which is tired of fishing) When old people went for attacking, the things they captured they will destroy them, even the ladies. Compare the old men in the village who are having the same rank. OKWAY is a famous man in the village who died by sickness. (Okway was killed by something that came from the ground and not b a person) There is a small village called DEPA. They went to attack OBWA people. They were defeated. The people of OBWA replied that any village who wants to be defeated can come and attack our village. The people of DEPA seem like a best friend or a best relative to us because of their attack in we agree to finish them. (depa is a very small village, they fought with the Pinykiew people at Gilo River. They were ignored first of all but then were attacked and the children were pounded like you pound grain. So, the Depa people were destroyed.) Appreciating their chief. Said strangers from other villages come, he’s sees their stomach to see if they are starved or not, He’s a leader who adopts those who don’t have parents. Explaining that once our leader agrees to fight, he will fight till he destroys the village. Now your village, don’t separate because the villages along Gilo River agree to come for attacking us. All Anuak said where will OBWA people be, we answer them that we will be in our previous villages where we defeated everybody.

3 240 Dudbul.

Text: Because there is no cow, I would have sung a song. (there is no cow given to him. If he had been given a cow he would have sung). Appreciating his friend named after a crocodile. Said when the crock swims he breaks the water apart. Anuaks who are saying bad things to me they re saying the same thing what God who cursed us does to us. Anuaks are talkative. I was supposed to see my best friend the son of NYANG who give a price and nobody had paid as they had paid to me. A person named after a fish, a large fish. Named similar to frost, when comes it is very white outside CURO: frost is sure as is the name of the fish. (Fog rather than frost) appreciating those who dance nicely in the village. The things which are given for the song re not counted. (Means people can pay as much as they can) Though there has been 10 demoui paid, nobody will complain for it. Those who died are the poorest people. Those who have hands and eyes and feet to walk on can be rich anytime. One best friend in the village, he said our love will last for long but the beer will always destroy the love between two young boys. I’m now very tired of going from place to place and you didn’t see Gambela it is a good town because of the many in it. If there were no money, Gambela would have been a bad town. (Means he has gone to Gambela to look for a job and not to live in). Appreciating the wife of his friend saying, when she makes something for me, she makes the food very clean and covers it with PAR a cover. Made in different colors like a basket. Appreciating two boys who married very good girls in the village complaining also about his poorness. Saying, if he has not been poor, he would have settled like those who have married. When you sing my song during dancing the girls will never think of an accident which will come to them. They will dance as much as they like. I need only a small thing from you. A daughter of a king wanting to go to Gambela. He repeated the same thing, because you didn’t see Gambela. It is not good at all. Repeating. Last part comparing his village with DembiDolo or Addis Ababa.

4 511 Obero.

Information: Sung for the chief.

Text: When he walks, he walks very nicely he gives prices to those common people. It is because of those Anuaks who are liars who make us very far away from our leader. (they said something against him to engender strife or lack of love.) They are at war with the people PINYBAGO. Not open war. A group of people can go and attack where the people get water. When they see the women and men coming to get water, they will kill them. Ambush. Many years fighting in this way. This song from OBWA. (Solo male singer as above and throughout this side) 10 songs that I sang for OBWA village which I had never received any price. For this reason, NIKWO or prime minister and the elders of the village agree to give me only one price will make me very pleased. I will like to go to inform the wife of our chief to marry or let me marry a girl which she can pay for. Before some years the alternative way to satisfy the singer is to give him a big price. Demoui or a cow. Because of my poorness, I will ask you to borrow DEM a special spear to be given to me. (One DEM is changed to $60. Divided into 2 parts. Male part $60, Female $40.) this song was sung to remind my chief according to what he has done to me.

5 639 Obero.

Information: Repeat of the song just sung (36B 4 511) Continuation of the last song. Repeated part of it because of throat become dry and then continues.

Text: Those who are drinking and saying lies they forgot the way of the village. They didn’t know the village is going to be destroyed. (Means that because of the liars and because of much drinking people will forget their village) Now my poorness is becoming worse and worse and if the leader rise like a moon we will jump and capture him. And push him back to us. (Means the chief died already, remembered that his poorness is getting worse and worse. If the chief rises like a moon the singer himself and the wife of the one who died will jump and pull him down) Advising the elders of the village to go and advise the new chief. I’m not going to blame the new chief because I’m still remembering the one who died in my songs. (Means he is still dealing with the one who died and not with the new one yet) During KWOT thee was no destruction in the village, and those who came from a long journey can each as much as they lie. (good advice for the new chief also) Instead of contacting him by talking they contacted him through song instead. Talking about the good points of their previous leader.) the things you have done to our chief, don’t repeat it to a new one also because I heard many times that there are no bodyguards who life with the chief every year. (they used to select bodyguards from the generation. Those who are getting older would be released and some of the younger from the new generation would be selected) Said, if any singer wants to be satisfied, he has to go and contact the wife of the chief. (Means he can hear something from the wife of the chief whether or not he will get a price or not) Not the young wife of the chief but the old one) the only think I need from you was a dollar. In detail, I would like to explain it to you. I was in need of special beads but unfortunately, I missed a cow from the chief. (He was wanting to receive a cow and get special beads from his friend also. But he got neither one)

6 770 Marching song.

Information: Male singer. When they swore not to eat all fishes.

Text: (We will never go to fish or never cut a fish or sharpen our knives for cutting it. Amharic word: for fasting is used THOMI in Anuak. Fasting from God our marching was led by MORI (An Arab military man in Gambela) and he led us though we remain people of Amhara and not in sympathy with Arabs. We are the generation who fought an elephant. We are informing them by telegram not to fear a lot. Informing those of the area and gore people also. Our marching became known in the region and those who are going to eat tortoise must eat the small land turtles that are inedible and you can be counted as those working in Addis who are working very hard and ignored by others. (When they sit for a party, those who eat those turtles would remain outside as a thief. They are not counted in their generation) when we kill an elephant, we will be very happy and don’t eat electric fish. This is the last for fishing (Nobody will go for fishing anymore) the things we boast for. We made it immediately. When it was raining. When you kill an elephant, the big intestine will make a noise like the sound of a big airplane. An elephant that we kill made very villages around us fear a lot. They were complaining that let another day and well move from this place to another village because of the sound of the elephant being killed. They were frightened.

7 900 Dudbul.

Information: Sung for the chief. Asking for something to be given to him.

Text: When he came back from a long journey, he asked one of his friends to give him a price. I will never be tired of asking you about the price. Our village became famous in the region and I have seen those who are Gallas who are flying by planes. They will never come back to repeat the same thing they did He was not having clothes to wear. He requested bodyguards of the chief, saying, If I go for a long journey I t will be because I don’t have clothes to wear. Appreciation to one boy and his wife. Neibur: advised to keep the village in the condition that it was. Those who are just moving about, forget the secret we had for our village. (the people whom they fought with before to forest to remember what was done) the rice which was given to me by all people must not be kept there in the home of the chief. It must be given to me. He’s praising one girl who had married saying, even though there are many groups of Anuak who are living together, she will never be tired, she will continue to make food for them. Some men also whose named after a crock, he praised him in another way. When the crock is killed, there are some people who eat the meat. Though those who are eating a crock meat which is eaten without food, they the crock, though you eat it you want somebody to cook it for you. What I need only is demoui and a cow. He wants those 2 people who want to give a price immediately who will give the price first and who will give it afterward. Hes saying to the chief, give your hand to me so that the money required for my marriage will be finished. When they made competition, they defeated many times.

8 1093 Agwaga.

Information: Tape finishes, song incomplete sung by male singer. (If you are a leader, and you use to give out many things, no matter whether you are from that village or from another they will come and join to you. If many people come to join you, you have to feed them.) If your village is attacked from another village, they will fight for you.) (The one who is giving out to the poor people is the father of those poor people.)

Text: There are singers who are controlled not to go to visit the chief. I have seen the chief because he was the famous one among the chiefs, of the Baro river. I have studied or have seen many chiefs and I have never seen a chief who is like the one we have in ABOL. He was a student in Pokwo, the singer said that God brought him to us to lead the village. Some other people say that being a bodyguard of the chief is no good, but for me, it is the best life I ever seen. Because you can get a good price from the prime minister. Those who get a price from the prime minister and the chief they will have a long hand (they will have many friends) We can appreciate our chief in the song as well as during the dancing. Which can be head in Nuer region. He treats us well. Cow after cow, bull after bull. He has many groups who are supporting him.

ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – August 3, 1972

Retyped: June 20, 2019

12:25 Arrive in Tierlul and sit down in the well cleaned area which we have found where the sound of the generator does not distract us nor leave an imprint on the tape. We sit down and then are men immediately by the girls who want to sing. Because we are so low on batteries, I hesitate to listen to them but we do and hear at least five songs.


1 319 A song for General dancing from Pokomo. Written by Acur, one year old and sung by Acan Ojwato from Pokomo, about 15 years old.

2 344 For general dancing from Pokomo. Written by Otheti 1 year old and sung by Acan Ojwato from Pokomo.

3 384 General dancing from Tedo. Otut the composer made in 1961-3. Sung by Awar omot from Tedo about 16 years old.

4 463 General Dancing from Pingudo, composer not known. Sung by Aduk Ojulo from Pingudo. About 17.

5 573 Obero sung by Ajulo for an alive chief, Gwok Ariw from Pingudo. Written this year. Ajulo Oman from Pingudo about 22.


All the following are sung by Omot Opiew from Oboa. He is also a composer of fine quality. Since he is a composer, he says, that it is very easy for him to learn other songs. Therefore, he knows many. The old composers in his village died so he took over.

1 000 Agwaga from Oboa by Ocan (Ochan) Very old. Those of Oboa came to Pingkew. There were under a king named Odiel Ojulo. The king won battle. The chief in Pingkew was Obolo.

2 045 Agwaga from Oboa by Ocan. Very Old.

3 059 Agwaga from Oboa by Ocan. Very old. Pingkew was destroyed at that time.

4 074 Agwaga from Oboa by Ocan also very old. Against Pingkew.

5 100 Agwaga against Depa from Oboa by Ochan.

6 130 General dancing from Oboa and written and sung by the composer. 6 years.

7 234 General dancing from Oboa. Written and sung by composer, 6 years old.

(He obviously enjoys singing to the tape. He sings the chorus parts along with his own voice.)

8 282 Obero for Chief who is alive. Omot Kwot written and sung by the composer. Call certain Nuer to take over command if the village is weak. So, when the king took command, used his fighting men to destroy the enemy of the village. Then all things captured reported to the king. He then divided the spoils. Men, boys, demoui, et. Whatever is important is reported. The king then decides either to give back or give part of it. But the king will take a part of the cows, ladies or whatever. He might take one or take the whole thing. When he finishes his duty, he would go back to his pw place and the village would remain under the chief. This song is 3 years old.

9 355 Obero for Omot Kwot. The chief is not dead at this time. But asked the singer to composer an Obero for him. It is formed as if he was dead. He is still alive, yet the song is for mourning. Made this year. He has not sung this for the chief yet. He never will. It will be sung after the chief dies.

10 430 Nirnam for Owelo. Regards hunting elephant. By Ojulo. 57 or 58.

11 472 Nirnam from Owelo hunting elephant by Ojulo.

12 490 Nirnam from Ocwing elephant.

13 507 General dancing from Abou. By Othethi written this year.

14 672 Agwaga for Obou against pingkew. Incomplete.


How does he compose? a gift from God

1 000 Agwaga, his new song. Taught it to the people last week and by yesterday he felt it was known by the village. Song is for Oboa. Made the song in July. Not against another village. Telling the chief about his difficulties. How well he rules his village. Begging something from the chief. Sang it for the chief last week.

2 070 Agwaga: singer also wrote this Oboa. Also, a new song.

3 125 War song. Composer not known. From Akek. The singer was small at the time he learned it. Against Oboa.

4 137 War song from Pingbago. The villages are very close together. A very old song. Composer not known, against Oboa.

5 182 War song from Arieth, made by Ocwiea in 1953.

6 201 General dancing from Ajwara made by Obui 1945-46.

7 263 General dancing from Ajwara made by Kwot 40.

8 325 Nirnam made by the singer in Oboa village hunting leopard. 61.

9 353 Agwaga composed and sung from Oboa. 1959. Against Centhoa.

10 400 Agwaga from Pochalla.

11 450 Agwaga from Pochalla 56 or 57.

12 459 Agwaga from Poketi. 56

13 482 War song from Perbong 56-57.

14 505 War song from Poketi against Pocala 56 57

15 582 War song against Pingbago from Oboa.

16 594 General dancing from Oboa. Composer-singer.

17 608 General dancing from Oboa. Composer singer booth 2 years.

18 650 Karo: dancing. Young and old in line. Also, girls. They come over and choose. From Oboa. Composed by singer.


1 000 Obero for the dead king, Com from Medho. By Kwot. From Ajwara. Died in prison in Malakal in 1955.

2 045 General dancing from Ajwara by Kwot. Made while that king was in power, 48 or 49.

4:30 Conclude work in Tierlul. As we walk back to Pokwo we hear the drums of an Agwaga at Pokomo. We decide in spite of the threatening rain to hurry over there and take in the event. Ladies from a town not too far from here were performing in the open space not in the Burra but I the field in front of it. Reports had it that they were expecting a cow for their efforts. I took movies of the action as well as several color slides. I hope to have gotten several good movie shots. The sound probably is not good because of the weakness of the batteries. The dancing seemed quite undisciplined this day though we probably came at the end of it. What we heard as we were approaching seemed better than what we saw after we arrived. Comments on the tape as well as comments and photo on the field should show the specific parts of the presentation.

6z:00 We return to Pokwo very tired after the events of the day under the sun but thankful for the climax of a very fine 5 weeks of taping the must and dancing’s of the Anuak.