Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Zambia Ngoni Praise poetry

  • Wednesday, December 22, 2010
  • Samuel Albert
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  • 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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