Añara Suleman Jeme on the Buñansaηab.

Summer 1965. Tape DF/65/T/I; Text V.

Kalilu Baji (K.)

What I want to ask you is what did they do before? They say that then they did not sing buñansahab.
what did they do when someone died?

Añara (A.) What they did with people who died, before. Now I did not see, but I heard. They say that when a man, a pagan, died they would take a cow and then they would buy gunpowder. And then they would look for guns. Now the guns were their funeral. Each village, like we are now, your Sunjan and mine. You would come here for the funeral. We would pour the powder into a winnowing basket and you would take and shoot it off. Do it and do it and do it, then they would stop. Nowadays, they will shoot, but now they sing too. Now those who started up the singing, the first in a big way was Aráfat of Uniyok. They began it and it came to Sunjan. They began it, they sang it until it came this way here (Jilakunda) Then those from around here began. But they say that the singing is a thing of magic. It is magic. They will go to the spirit and sing. Then something of the spirit would sing and they would hear it. They take it and bring it to sing it outside. Now, when a cow dies they pull it out and through it away. Then the vultures come and land. The vultures land and singers like us, and there are others too, turn ourselves into them (vultures) and go and land and hear. Yeh, that's our way. So it is they, the vultures who own the buñansahab of praises. The singers brought them out here and everyone heard them. The vultures did this work. Do you understand well (what I am saying)?


What they heard from the vultures was that one of them would begin. It would sing and then stop. The others would take up the melody of the buñansahab. A vulture in order to sing the melody, it would begin and the others would take it up. Now they are there praising. Now they wait for their elder. Whenever he arrives, just as he does. He would go to the cow, he whom they were praising, praising the one for whom they were waiting. You have seen this. When they land they will not eat without waiting for one. That one for whom they await, it is the one who owns the strength (the strongest one). Whenever it arrives, it goes and lands and goes to the meat. After it has done this the others go on in and grab at it. You know, the song that which is good, is clean. It is better than what is found out here where we are here. You understand? There it is better, the vultures own it.

We heard it thus, we with the vultures. We heard it, but my friend who was with me, he has died. There we took the praises that we use now. Now where we heard it first was at Jiro amongst the herd belonging to a man they call Bakanyari, he and his father. Their cows died. We went there and heard. You understand? From there we went to Baliñam where they were also singing at a man's home whose name was Epalo Sane. At Baliyam we heard it. That is all, it is enough now?


K. (paraphrase) What does one have to do to sing very well, so that people will know that he is a true singer?

A. Like this. There is a stick which we have, it is called Nakábure. Did you not see it? You will take the root that has been sharpened to a point. When the sun is just up you remove the part and make a tooth pick out of it. You then chew. From house to house you enter where there are singers you will not have any shame, never. Whoever hears your will praise you. They will say that you take the crowd. The person with whom you are singing, every time you sing it will be as though you have pushed on his mouth (covered his mouth). If he speaks, it will not work, he will just have to stop. But when you sing and stop and he is going to sing you bite your toothpick, then he will not where he is going in his singing, he will get lost. That is it, the stick. With it I sang, but now I have stopped using it. For some time now, even today. When I became an elder I stopped using it. Before I was youthful and grabbed for the cloth (prize).Who will take it? That is why I took the toothpick. Before, the people here, Burama, Fulari, Kausu who grew up with you people of Sunjan, all of them, I beat them. He (jds) should not be afraid to ask about this of other people. You even, you go out and ask from here to Télum. Everyone will say, it is the truth that it is me who beat them.

(pp 59ff)

When you start up you go to where you will kill. Now if you are to praise in a way to make an indirect insult then if you (the listener) are not a singer you will not know that there is an insult. That is there too. If it is to insult so that we will know that it is they that he is insulting then he will insult but you will not know that it is of whom you are speaking. But another singer will know. You understand? For example if he (the singer) says "the guys in there we greet them" and the greeting that I would greet them with would be "one with you there inside with whom ugliness is tied, and if you saw him you would say 'small thatched roof.'" Be he the singer has not called out his name. Of the ugly one he has said only that there is one in there whose ugliness is like a thatched roof. You follow? That is how we go about insulting. Because he is not just ugly but is like a tying up (of a roof). Even if you do not call his name, they will know. And the same if you are going to insult a village, as I insult Ñankiit, you will know that when they controlled the chiefdomship (chef de canton), they would do bad thing which they would always deny. Ever since the hats (chiefdomships) were taken away the former chiefs were worried. They dispersed, they became wandak birds, some going to Senegal, others to Ziguinchor others with the Manjaks.