Sunday, 30 November 2014

19.10.14 Coronation Day of Bakonjo King and the Kiwa Heritage Centre

David and l set off at 12.30 for the coronation having lunch, fish and chips in town first.  Then we got to sit on white plastic chairs in this big field. There was some dancing by children but as David said was not truly authentic – ‘T’ shirts and shorts and grass skirts with a strip of bark cloth around the head.  Later there were some drummers who looked more authentic wearing grass skirts and colobus monkey skins around their heads and bells on one leg, but it was difficult to get a good view as everyone got up and joined them dancing around them and the media were encircling them too, so could not get close enough.  I had a little girl who kept pestering me for money or bread, although smartly dressed and the father was only two rows in front of us.  There was some older people dressed in skins with some gourds hanging around their necks and the old guy had a blanket of bark cloth slung around him too.  This was the 48th. Coronation of the Bakonjo king since Independence in 1962.

Then we had a quick soda at the Hotel Margarita where there were some other muzungos having a meeting by the look of it.  Lovely flowers as we drove up the driveway but the hotel itself was rather sparse of decoration – no plants in pots or artwork on the walls.

Then we went to Kiwa Heritage Centre, which had a curative hot spring.  They had a fish farm to generate money for the museum. They also had an old house reconstructed using straw and inside they had two fires – the first in the woman’s half for cooking, etc. nearest the door, and the other quarters were the bedroom where the daughters slept and the other quarter was for the boys and men to sit around the other fire and resolve family business – whilst drinking the local brew which was fermenting bananas with sorghum. They had other gourds, which were used for enemas and had a long stem to put up the anus with a hole at the end.  There were some flutes in a basket and seven of these were played at womens funerals. They would also be played for a NON-circumcised man on death as it signified that he was like a woman!  (Similar to the Koma erected to uninitiated Gohu members).

The xylophone was played for invoking the god Katisamba (the invisible spirit of the mountain) and played both sides.  To get the right pitch/note but also carve a bit of wood away until it makes the right sound.

One of the boys was making a model of a goat using cassava flour and water with the earth, which was grey in colour and looked a bit sandy.  This ‘museum’ was made on swampland and had a lot of stagnant streams running through it – lethal for malaria!  The hot spring was truly hot like a hot bath which people cam to bath in for recreation as well as cure.

I paid 6000/- here for this info.  30000/- for lunch for David and me, and 5000/- for two sodas later.  David told me that Kule Walyuba Sylvester, the director here, was a crook – he resold land that David had bought and started to build on!  Kisobulu Ericana was the main informant here – guide to the museum.  Saturday Leo was the young boy playing the xylophone along with Kisobulu.  Saturday Leo was the boy also making the goat sculpture.

Then on the way home we stopped at a brick kin to take a photo – it was getting dark by now though.  The kilns are fired for three days a fire is made in both holes and blocked up and the whole structure caked with earth and straw mixture – maybe even cow dung?

After photographing David with objects and writing bear minimum on the questionnaire we will pour one side of the rubber mould and at 11.30 set off to see the witch doctor near Ibanda.

18.10.14 Adolf's family planning

David arrived at 10am & we carried on with making the rubber mould of the yam.  We needed to cast a separate patch for the bottom.  It is interesting to see how it is done here with the materials available.  Shallow edges were made to accommodate the ‘dogs’ and clay slip was used between the moulds.
It is the King of Bakonjo’s coronation tomorrow and there maybe some rehearsals of music and dance to go to today but David needs to make some armatures for Eria.
Read some of the Ugandan Guide book that Rungwe has here – it looks like rain gear for the Gorilla trip!  Kibale forest looks an interesting trip too with the chimps but lack of time and funds won’t permit this.

Adolf asked me about contraception this evening – he has seven children!! Quite funny as it was such a frank conversation!!

Eria seems to be racing on now and making lots of clay spoons with text on them from the Uganda Constitution (1995).

Rocca is coming to visit on 3rd.November with her parents but won’t be at the talk on the Wed. when l leave for UK.

Felt very tired this evening so l hope l haven’t got a malarial bug, as l have had a weird mouth lumpiness come up similar to Solomon’s lips – apparently this is a sign of malaria here!  Also felt a bit headachy and a bit dizzy, but maybe the heat.

Composed the questionnaire for witch doctor interview for Monday.

17.10.14 Casting

Began investing with David but then he had to go and sort out his daughter’s school fees for the rest of the day, so started casting the yam using clay wall ready for the rubber tomorrow.

Eria was busy today getting his sculpture together for casting.

Rocca from 32 Degrees East confirmed the talk for the 5th.November so that was good.

Saw Soloman and he showed me the soars he had on his lips that looked like herpes but he sais it was one of the tail end signs of malaria!  Seem to have a similar thing going on in my mouth since yesterday, but have used TCP – a bit worrying.  Taking malarials anyway, and had it once before, but badly, so maybe l have built up some immunity hopefully.

A bat was flying around the sitting room tonight and then the kitchen which as not pleasant since the thought of the bat being a vector for Ebola!  Earwig on the bed!  The rainy season is not a good time for bugs!  

Jacob offered to take me up the smaller mountain early on Monday so l might go.  It would make a change and they seem to take the dogs most mornings.

It looks like the witch doctor is on the cards for Monday.

David reckons Uganda shillings are better than dollars to give as gifts s the dollars are sometimes difficult to change a) because of small denominations b) they might fold them by mistake which makes them worthless to change too and c) anything the banks can get away with in terms of not giving the full value will happen!  Corruption or what! 

16.10.14 Bakonjo Witch Doctor's Basket

Began more investment procedures today but David had to keep going off to attend to various things such as deliveries, hunters, visitors, etc.

Winnie later told me some stories about witchcraft when l had told her that Baluku Sasio was from a long line of witch doctors.  She said she came from a village where witch doctors were plentiful and was a place well known for it (in Jinja).  She grew up being superstitious in this way although now being a Christian she doesn’t really believe these things, although there seemed to be some doubt still left in her mind.  The general perception is that witch doctors are bad, as the Christian belief is to destroy false idols, be they objects or values.  She told me that one day they had an American Evangelist come to talk and he told the people to bring anything they might have from the witch doctor. So they did and all these items were put into a drum, and because the speaker had to go he left the task of burning the lot to the church in his absence.  However, by the next day all the objects had disappeared -  basically they had been retrieved or stolen over night which perhaps signifies their importance still according to Winnie.  She was very surprised.

She also told me that, one day a man who was carrying a traditional Bakonjo basket could be a phantom of the witch doctor’s and would follow a guilty person, perhaps he had stolen something, and when it caught up with the bad man, it would beat him to death with the basket!!!

Another story concerned her classmate.  She told me, that if someone is possessed by a spirit, they might go mad, and start screaming, which one girl in her class did and everyone thought the worst.  It turned out she did this on purpose, so that she could leave school and go to her boyfriend!!!

Visitors later came to the foundry from lodges and other places where tourists stay, so that they had an insight into the experience the visitors might gain from visiting such attractions as the foundry.  Someone from UBC and NTV interviewed me about how and why l was there, not that l realised this until afterwards.  One of the men knew Justin Willis from BIEA who l met when l was doing my PhD research into the Giriama of Kenya – I remember one of his papers was on the ‘palm wine drinking’ of the Giriama!!!

Emmanuel was saying that they used human faeces for road building when l mentioned that cow dung was used in Jetres’s winnowing basket and thought it might not comply with H & S standards in terms of food hygiene.

When l asked David to enquire of Buhoto Richard whether he still had any witch doctor paraphernalia he told me had burnt the lot.  However, when we asked whether he knew a witch doctor we could visit he said his sister’s husbands’s brother was a witch doctor – so l am hoping to visit him one day next week.  David talks about going to Ibanda for the other interviews where we might find more graves of the traditional variety.

David’s daughter was sent home from school today, as he couldn’t raise the school fees at the moment (£180 per term).

Eria is back – having endured a bus ride form Kampala with people smelling of BO and urine and such like!

15.10.14 Workshop Day with the founders

Everyone brought their item and l photographed them and the objects they brought, along with a commentary about why they were precious to them and what they were used for.  So a lot of cultural history was gained through this exercise and we all learnt a lot about each other.  It was also useful to me to form links to possible other informants in the field, such as witch doctors, elders and hunting rituals.  The workshops covered aspects of craftwork, domestic tools, inherited and symbolic spears, musical instruments, harvesting, etc.  Jacob helped out writing the forms as this was a bit of a problem with language as well as literacy.  The questions on modern art were a bit difficult, so did not pursue this with the majority of the participants – just got Emmanuel, Winnie and David to answer these as well.  This information will be produced as an illustrated booklet and forms a small study of the foundry staff here at Kyemihoko.

Started investing the small trees with David this morning and tried to impress upon Emmanuel and David about the time factors involved.  Spent the morning making runners and risers to help David with the investing the first piece.  He left it unwrapped and so the next layers of the investment may not stick?  Looks rather a big investment for a delicate piece such as this.  He used a box to act as a mould around the piece as he said the investment material would pour better into the shapes without air-bubbles as flicking it on may not work in this context – perhaps the plaster and grog material would be too heavy for the delicate structures.  He sprayed the wax with surgical spirit to degrease it.

When l went to the shower tonight it seemed like a magnet for wildlife – huge cockroach in my towel, moth on the floor following me to the bathmat – opened the door and expected Mr Roach but there was a little frog.  Using ‘Doom’ like hairspray for the many mosquitoes!!!

Adolf saw a green snake in the hills today as he was walking Drongo around the boundary.  Adolf said he was ‘Defense Secretary’ for the area.

The bells turned out very well but David’s sculpture had three holes in it, so will have to be welded, luckily in places that did not have detail.

Winnie was off today as their house flooded badly with 3 inches of water after the rain last night – as it is still the rainy season.  Emmanuel’s fingers looked horrible with spiky stitches sticking up at all angles!

14.10.14 Bronze pouring day

It is a bronze pouring day today, but this seems a movable feast. The last mould in the kiln finished flaming last night.  They had a problem with the VAT on some receipts – seems like the authorities make up the rules as they go along!

Email system seems to be quite good today – cut down on time writing several.  Able to send over the net but seem to be receiving the emails for Virgin automatically, but not able to access the gmail.

The clay l am using (river clay with quite a bit of sand in it) dries out very quickly and doesn’t seem to be brittle like the clay in UK – it seems to bake in the sun eg. the clay column l made as a maquette for the trees. Also the clay mounds l put under polythene with damp cloths still doesn’t keep the clay soft, it still seems to set and therefore only remain workable for a short time.

I will maybe do some clay negative plaques of sections of the ground with clay impresses today, to see what effect it gives and whether it would be useful to combine with something else, or whether they would be interesting in their own right.  We may be able to invest one or two of the trees today?? In between pouring.

Started the clay impress and cast the back with plaster – this goes off really quickly and feels quite sandy and rough, although luckily doesn’t have major lumps in it.  Cannot tell how hard it sets until l release it from the clay beneath – not much time to shake the plaster into the clay to prevent air bubbles, so don’t know how refined it will be.  Maybe try different mixes.

They have fired up the furnace and scrimmed the outside of the investments whilst still in the kiln, using sacking dipped in plaster.  Seven people are involved including Jacob, Emmanuel, David, Sanya, Muhuto, Adolf and one other.

It looked like lead was put into the crucible when it was nearing temperature.  Then the first pour was done – some concern about filling over the cup, which spilled over and therefore could have blocked the risers, but seemed OK.  Crucible was put back to reheat for 45 mins for the second mould.  They recognise the temperature by eye – if the iron rod, which is propped up against the opening to the furnace melts, it is too hot, and if it doesn’t glow, it is too cold.  Stirred in a lump of TIN (not lead) at the end this time, so it didn’t evaporate – needed especially for bell casting. Does this enable the bronze to pour more easily and fluidly?

The plaster relief l made was quite hard so didn’t need reinforcing.  Hopefully now the bells have been cast, there will be more time to get some research done.

Workshop tomorrow.  Emmanuel has brought in a watch, cufflinks Winnie bought him and his bible with the attributes of a wife needed – also above this a list under the heading of sex!!!

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.

12.10.14 Queen Elizabeth Park

Johnson (Muthahinga Bwambale Johnson), who is a park ranger, arrived to pick Eria and me up at 5 am and we shared the cost, which was handy for both of us.  We saw two male lions lying down in long grass and one moved to drink from a puddle before moving off.  Eventually we saw a lot of elephant in a different part of the park, which was amazing as they were crossing the road in front of us with a very small baby.  The antelope were mainly Ugandan cob and Impala type things, not ‘Tommies’- ought to look them up. Warthogs, baboon, Vervet monkey, and we saw a wealth of birds and hippo going on the boat down the Kazinga Channel – this was well worth the extra money.  The crocodile we saw did a spectacular display of snapping its jaws with a fish in its mouth, near some buffalo, who looked perplexed!!!

We went to the crater lake and saw some lesser flamingos, not quite as impressive as Kenya.  We also saw monitor lizards, big white pelicans, marabou storks, yellow billed storks, jacanas, hammerkops and on the way back one of their huge nests in a tree – this is built with several chambers and has an emergency exit as well as entrance.  There was spoon bills, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, sacred ibis, egrets (big and small), fish eagles which mate for life and shanks,etc.

We had tilapia for lunch with chips and brought home a perfect weaver’s nest.  Arrived home late and tired but excited by the day out.

11.10.14 Rain

Met Mubuta’s son who was carving a family tree type of sculpture out of very hard wood. This was of two lions at the bottom of a tree where the boys are escaping to but one of them make ‘not make it’!  He is very keen and has been sent to school by Claude and Rungwe and is doing well.

Worked up the yam idea further by going up to the gallery here, which is quiet and you can see into the distance, with my sketchbook.  Later the rain came across the valley which was very atmospheric.  It is still the rainy season here so quite a lot of rain from time to time.

David told me before work today he had to get his cattle back, as they had been ‘cattle rustled’, but a neighbour helped him to get them back – all in a days work!!

10.10.14 Artwork and walk with Jacob to see the view of the Ruwenzoris

Internet terribly slow today.

Decided not to go to Kampala in the middle of the stay as it is too costly and could use the time so l will go at the end to give the lectures after all.

Concentrated on making artwork today – the circle of  seven muramura trees using seed bundles from the acacia trees. These will be mounted on columns (wood) and supported by clay earth mounds, about 3 cm in diameter. Decided on them being the same heights (23 cm) as this indicates the depth of relative burial and the maintenance of ground level.  It was suggested to save time to invest the clay bases directly with the fine grog which could then be picked out and dip the seeds in hot wax to invest the two together.

The second piece casting from yams will be done in rubber as l would like to play around with the idea of them looking like vessels or jugs which is a strange shape l haven’t seen before and the texture is rather appealing with concentric circles.  Did a few sketches to try out ideas.

Eria was making clay spoons today to cast into bronze, similar to the Welsh wishing spoons but they will have statements on them from the government constitution here, which he says people do not know enough about.

Jacob offered to take me up the steep hill behind the house early in the morning where Adolf saw a spitting cobra on one of his walks up there doing the security round with one of the dogs – Drongo or Boubou.

The founders have finished casting the bells and watched the pour, so they will be free to help with the casting of our work.