Monday, December 8, 2014


Chewa Girls
8" x 10", oil on canvas, 2014
Manyanda is the "Kulowa first movement of the Muganda dance". It was performed, and recorded, in 1950 in Nyasaland (current day Malawi) by Hugh Tracey. It was performed by a group of young men with malipenga (singing gourds) led by Benson Phiri at Native Authority Masula, in the Lilongwe district. The information comes from the liner notes written by Tracey on the record The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, Volume X: Bantu Music from British East Africa that was collected and edited by Alan Lomax. Hugh Tracey provided all the recordings, the photographs, and liner notes. The collection of photographs did not include the Chewa young men of track 17 and I reverted to a simple Google image search to find a substitute. Benson Phiri was not found and the first photo that came up next had a the heading: "Women are central to Chewa culture and performances." I looked no further (even though it makes me guilty of exoticism and use of gratuitous [semi] nudity). Later, before writing this, I searched further and I'm glad I did. The Chewa, so I learn from Wikipedia, is a matrilineal society, in which "property and land rights are inherited through the mother." And, like the heading to the photo source, "Women have a special place in Chewa society and belief" (did I redeem myself?)

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