Sunday, 30 November 2014

13.10.14 Artwork day & talking to David about Bakonjo customs

Today it’s all a bit slow – Emmanuel has been working through the night with the kilns, likewise David and Winnie, so everyone is a bit tired.  It took nearly all morning to write five emails because my email provider was slow – better to have a yahoo account in Africa it seems.  Arranged to give the lecture about my work on 5th.November now to save time and money getting to Kampala and now l will combine it with the flight home from Entebbe the same day.  So will leave Kyemihoko at 5am arrive in Kampala 12 midday and then get to 32 Degrees East for 1.30 for 2 pm start.  George Kyeyune (Makerere University) and some of his students should also attend and anyone from the British Council too.

Eria and l talked with Perlucy (the housekeeper at the Foundation House) about name giving as each child is given a particular name depending on the order of birth within the family, and they are different for boys and girls.
BOYS                                                                                     GIRLS
1 Baluku                                                                                 Masika
2 Bwambale                                                                           Biira
3 Masekera                                                                            Kabugho
4 Kule                                                                                     Mbambu
5 Mbusa                                                                                 Tungu
6                                                                                             Kakimwa
7                                                                                             Nziyabaka

Muhindo means ‘a change’ (usually applied to boys) and can indicate mixed clans by marriage, so not of a particular tribal clan set, etc.
Mumbere means a married couple with both parents on BOTH sides still alive.
Musoki means that all the parents alive on both sides and the grandparents.
Kanyere means your wife is a virgin – the aunt on the father’s side has to verify that this is the case before marriage (tends to be linked to the first born girl – this is a bit ambiguous this last statement and was not clear).
Talking about my ideas to Jacob for a bigger work l suggested having a shelf representing the earth’s surface and division between the physical and spiritual worlds, with the Muramura plant (death) hanging down from it and the yams on top (fertility, food and life).  He thought it would make people think more about it when they saw it as the Muramura is an iconic plant associated with graves.
Talking informally with David again l can glean more information about different aspects of Bakonjo life and culture. EKITHAKA NIKYETU is the local Bakonjo saying meaning the land is ours or the earth is ours.  The spear and hoe are important in inheritance.
The hoe: the Toro test for the kingdom was a bottle of soil and a hoe and a box of gold with money inside.  The person had to decide which to take and they chose the bottle of soil and the hoe as that indicated that they chose the land and earth which would bring them an endless means of making money and subsistence, rather than the box of money which would eventually run out.
The spear: this means responsibility, and the protection of the family, like a father figure.  There are different spears depending on their use, some are longer than others to kill bigger animals.  Hunting is a very common past time. The Bakonjo spear is rounder at the base and has a central ridge, whereas the nearby Toro tribe has a rather more streamlined tall leaf-like shape.  The Bakonjo put oil on theirs, which is from the SYAMBONO tree, which causes more pain and goes into the flesh quicker. The central ridge acts as a barb when twisted in.
KIJANGWA (meaning that he is like the biggest cat to hunt, stalking his prey) is the name given to David’s father who was a really good hunter. He was so fast he could catch a mongoose with his bare hands.  He was also hired by other people to kill buffalo at one time when they were a pest.
The drum: this is played to signal to people eg. a natural death, hanging, drowning (people will not come to the latter two but will be informed). A drum can also be used to gather people together to mend the road, or build a bridge, and as a communal act, as well as calling people to church.
The drum is played at birth as music and likewise weddings.  It can also be played to attract evil spirits, the small gods and to entice the spirits to effect good hunting which all have different rhythms.
The xylophone: or locally called Endura is used to entice the main spirit of Kitsamba, who is invisible and lives in the Ruwenzori mountains.
The flutes: These are also played alongside the xylophone for similar purposes, to attract the spirits.  They can be played for good or bad, and if the spirit so wishes can make the player play until he goes mad and then runs into the forest and disappears.  Here he would fast on water for 40 days seeking the gods.  The witch doctors can disappear for 7 days living on water to seek power and control.  Witch doctors feel that they can control the sun and the rain.
It is often believed that something bad that happens, is caused by another person, so they ask the witch doctor to curse them and cause them harm.

The investments have been in the kiln now for 36 hours burning out the wax at around 600 degrees – anything between 300-700 degrees is tolerable.  To reduce the heat/temperature they take away some of the logs from the fire.  The investments should flame – if the kiln is too hot you will only get heat haze, like a shimmer, which is not good, as it causes the investments to crack.  Then to pour the investments they need to be approx. 200 degrees.

Eria was talking politics again about the injustices as he sees them in his own country of Uganda and amongst his own countrymen including his own tribe of Buganda.  He tells me that they are quite individualistic when they want to be, as they take advantage of any benefit that comes their way but that when his runs dry they have no compunction about leaving – no loyalty within the tribe – that is why he reckons that the British used them against the main tribal group of Bunyouro to gain power and control in Uganda.  Johnson (the driver and ranger) also said that Bakonjo were more trustworthy than the Buganda – but this may be bias, as he is Bakonjo!!

The more l talk to David the more he talks about spirits and demons. I met his mother today who is nearing 70 years old.  Emmanuel dropped some logs on his fingers on his right hand and so will need stitches – this puts him a bit out of action on the practical side.

Eria has gone back to Kampala to put in his application for a Visa for traveling to Europe, which can be difficult at times.

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