17 Slices
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17 - Income Strategies of a Jelimuso in Mali and France

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

Nienke Muurling

Remittances are a major source of income in Mali. It is estimated that the yearly amount of money sent by Malian emigrants exceeds 100 million euros, of which at least 50 million euros are sent by Malians who reside in France.1 One indicator of the importance of these France-Mali remittances is the fact that France provides approximately 60 million euros a year in aid to Mali (Gubert 2003). The “French money” sent by relatives is used for the purchase agricultural equipment. The funds are also invested in social relationships. Although these transfers of funds may appear at first to operate outside the framework of traditional customs because they are initiated in France rather than in Mali, other participants, in particular professional female singers known as jelimusow,2 also participate. The question is how these women, involved locally in activities that involve money (rewards for performances and other services), participate in the larger financial network linking France and Mali.

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15 - Lamentation and Politics in a Sahelian Song

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas A. Hale

Researchers in a variety of disciplines who have recorded songs by women from West Africa are now providing evidence for this most widespread but also most ephemeral form of expression by women. The research leads to several questions. Is there any way of documenting the existence and the roles of women singers in the pre-independence era? Did they have a public voice? If so, what were women doing and saying with their songs?

In the introduction to the collection of songs published in Women's Voices from West Africa (2011), Aissata G. Sidikou and I included a history of the genre that began with the lyrics of an Egyptian love song dating to 1300 BCE. Since that period, it is difficult to find references to women singers, let along lyrics, although in the Sahel one finds mention of them in the fourteenth century. The North African traveler Ibn Battuta described singers at the court of Mansa Suleyman, ruler of the Mali empire, in 1352–1353 (Hamdun and King 1975). But in the history that followed, though there are numerous references to singers, one encounters no lyrics until 1918. Below is a summary of sources described in more detail in the introduction to Women's Voices from West Africa.

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3 - Azna Deities in the Songs of Taguimba Bouzou: A Window on the Visible and Invisible

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

A WINDOW ON THE VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE

Boubé Namaïwa

Songs often provide a key to understanding the daily lives of women, but their world is not limited to the immediate concerns of child raising, meal preparation, and marriage. The system of belief that governs their society is very much a part of their worldview, and it takes shape not simply in the Islamic context, but also, at the same time, in complex networks of gods and goddesses who predate the arrival of Islam. If the contours of Islam in West Africa are familiar to scholars in African studies, the invisible world of a parallel system of belief often remains a mystery. But if, as Jewsiewicki (1987) argues, belief is social fact, the question, then, is what is the shape of that world and how does it influence daily life? The example of songs by a well-known woman from one Hausa-speaking people, the Azna of Niger, offers insights into the visible and the invisible in that world.

I propose to take up the challenge of understanding that metaphysical world by reversing the order of things, by drawing on the invisible to explain the visible. Followers of classical methods might argue that my approach is insane. They would claim that one can only explain the invisible by starting with the visible, a Cartesian approach that is no longer valid. I propose to carry out my analysis by drawing on evidence from songs sung by one of the most famous singers in Niger, Taguimba Bouzou. But before explaining just who this extraordinary woman is, it is important to frame the issue raised above in a larger context.

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2 - Jola Kanyalen Songs from the Casamance, Senegal: From “Tradition” to Globalization

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

FROM “TRADITION” TO GLOBALIZATION

Kirsten Langeveld

One of the distinctive features of many Sahelian peoples is the hierarchical nature of their society, a trait that is not gender-specific. But among women, there are particular forms of hierarchy that may result from conditions emerging when a woman reaches adulthood. This is a phenomenon that may occur across the region, as in the maani foori rituals based on a blend of traditions of the Hausa and the Songhoy-Zarma of Niger. As Sidikou explains, women involved in maani foori establish a power relationship between “fat” women and “thin” women in the larger context of what she describes as a woman-centered shadow system of government (Sidikou 2001, 58–79). This form of stratification is quite different, however, from the one described in this paper. The purpose here is not to undertake a regional study of this phenomenon, but to examine more closely the procedure by which a woman's status changes among the Jola people in the Casamance region of southern Senegal.1 The shift occurs through a ritual called kanyalen. Songs are a means for the woman who undergoes the kanyalen ritual to express her position in society.

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12 - Bambara Women's Songs in Southern Mali

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

Bah Diakité

In many cultures, songs are seen primarily as entertainment. The form appears more important than the message. But on closer examination, it is clear that one can learn as much about a people from songs as one can from any other source. But the question is, what kind of information is embedded in such ephemeral verbal forms? What, for example, can one learn about women who sing songs as they go about their daily tasks?

In Mali, the songs from Bambara women in the south enable one to learn about their hopes, their wounds, their anger, their fear, and their needs—not only in the present but also in the context of the past—in other words, their lived experiences in the larger context of their society. The purpose here is to discover the range of those feelings and how they are expressed in song.

The region that is the focus of this study is the frontier zone in southern Mali near the border with Côte d’Ivoire, and in particular the prefecture of Kolondiéba. It is a fairly large region, covering about 9,000 square kilometers, divided into 12 rural communes that include 203 villages and hamlets. In Kolondiéba live groups of Bambara who are, to some extent, so bound to their own traditions that local economic development has suffered. It is a situation marked by cultural and linguistic withdrawal from the larger Malian society, which is evolving rapidly as the result of Western influence. Such intrusions from the outside world as do occur come largely from Côte d’Ivoire to the south.

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