Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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Zambia Ngoni Praise poetry

  • Wednesday, December 22, 2010
  • Samuel Kadyakale
  • Taken from Shona Praise Poetry

    'These tentative and rather inconclusive remarks have been triggered by comparing Shona Praise Poetry with a recent dissertation on the Ngoni poetrys of Zambia by Steven Moyo. Moyo observes, in passing, that the moribund state of the language has definite ramifications for the existence of the poetry. The ramifications are not spelled out. A caveat to the work points out that Ngoni is "no longer a sociolinguistically dynamic language." Yet a long and detailed analytical description (539 pages) of the Ngoni aesthetic ambiance proves to be a significant contribution to the corpus of African literary criticism. Indeed so broad, deep, and comprehensive is Moyo's analysis that it spans dance, song, and verbal poetry.

    Ngoni Izingoma are portrayed as the totality of the aesthetic experience implied by the genre of praise poetry. Moyo elaboratesupon the cognitive and taxonomic aspects of Izingoma (the basic modes of aesthetic communication) under eighteen subheadings-seven under the subcategory of dance (ingoma), six under singing (izihlabelelo), five under praises or stylized speech (izithokozo). The names of the subgenres begin with umgubho [war dance] and culiminate in imidabuko [national epics]. The songs go from imilolozelo[lullabies] to izigiyo [adult self-advertising songs]. The complete list is umgubho [hunting dance, war dance, and song], isigiyo [singly performed and rendered as self-praise], ngoma [pastime dances], umgido [associated with women and children], tshimbo [a two man or two woman dance], mzangaza [a dance in which young men and women form parallel lines and occasionally pair off], mvunga [in which men dance and murmur to women solists], imilolozelo [lullabies], umsindo [sung in the context of nubility rites and the initiation of girls in preparation for marriage], umthimba [sung in the context of bride wealth negotiations and marriage ceremonies], vyanusi [sung in the context of therapy presided over by diviners or medicine persons], ligubho [death songs and dirges], izigiyo [dance songs that accompany isigiyo dances] , vigiyo [topical boasts and self-praise poems], vithokozo [praise poetry proper in which "others" are declaimed], imihubo [community lyrics in which place names occur frequently as spiritual homes], viwongo [clan praises], and imidabuko [national epics].'

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    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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    Northern Ngoniland - Imperial Possibilities of Missions

  • Tuesday, December 14, 2010
  • Samuel Kadyakale
  • Extract from Missionary Idea in Life and Religion, 1926

    ....Perhaps the imperial possibilities of missions have never been better illustrated than in the story of Laws of Livingstonia of the annexation of Ngoniland. It was won for the British Empire, neither by the soldier, nor by the administrator, nor by the explorer, but by the missionary. Sir Alfred Sharpe, Commissioner of Nyasaland, put absolute confidence in the judgment of Doctor Laws about the precise moment when the country was ripe for annexation. On receipt of a letter from Doctor Laws, the commissioner "did a thing surely unparalleled in the story of British colonization. He went up into the wilds of Ngoniland to annex the country, unattended by the military, and taking only his wife with him." On September 2, 1904, the day fixed for the great palaver with the native chiefs, "the Ngoni gathered in their thousands, chiefs and indunas and fighting men, with spears and shields, the proudest and most warlike people in Central Africa, and the commissioner walked into their midst to take away their independence, with all the implication which that involved the surrender of their old care-free life, the submission to outside authority, the imposition of taxation and he was alone. The few soldiers he had brought with him as a matter of form mingled, unarmed, with the spectators."

    A mission teacher acted as an interpreter; and after a long palaver, with many explanations asked and patiently and tactfully given, without the firing of a single shot and with the good will of the "wild Ngoni," by the setting of the sun Ngoniland had been added to the British Empire. The commissioner gratefully acknowledged his great indebtedness to Doctor Laws and the other missionaries.
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    Sunday, December 12, 2010

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    Ngoni Language - Scholars' Views

  • Sunday, December 12, 2010
  • Samuel Kadyakale
  • A COMPARATIVE GRAMMAR SOUTH-AFRICAN BANTU LANGUAGES, 1891

    Sources: Introductory Grammar of the Ngoni language by W. A. Elmslie, M. B., 1891. Ikatekisma la Hari... ngu W. A. Elmslie, 1890. Izindaba zombuso ka Mlungu, 1890.

    There are in South Africa several different tribes which go by the name of Ngoni. Those among which the Rev. W.A. Elmslie has passed several years live under the rule of Mombera, on the western side of Lake Nyassa. Their language must not be coupled with Bunga (p.xix of this work), but with Mfengu, Zulu, Xosa, and Tebele, in the Kafir cluster. In the sources mentioned above I have scarcely found more than two or three words which may not be heard among the Kafirs of Cape Colony and Natal.

    The demonstrative pronouns and a few other forms are the same as in Zulu, not as in Xosa (n. 124). A few grammatical forms are proper to Ngoni, or borrowed from the dialects of the Nyassa region. Thus the classifiers ci and vi replace si and zi of Kafir {ci and zi of Tonga); and the connective pronouns of the plural number in the 1st and 2nd person are ti "we" instead of the Kafir si; mu or li "you" instead of the Kafir ni. Consequently, the substantive pronoun mwena or lina "you" replaces nina. (See pp. 153 and 160). Were it not for these few differences, all good Zulu and Kafir (Xhosa, Zulu or Ndebele) books might be used among the Ngoni of Nyasaland.
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