THE KUNAMA FOLKLORE Part1 RKPHA 1999-2000
The Kunama people celebrate their events, rituals and other observances by performing appropriate dances.
Such dances have their traditional ties and meanings with the given events or celebrations.
Though some dances are publically and frequently performed in every event, some others are strictly reserved for particular occasions and, at times, exclusively participated and performed by the members of particular groups or kinships.
There is neither formal nor informal invitation to attend the public dances. On the contrary, the private celebrations or ceremonies determine who should take part in them.
As the Kunama people have rather strong family and kinship ties, certain events are exclusively known to and their meanings shared only within the circle of those ties. The kinds of the dances performed in such occasions too are, often, considered to be prerogatives or privileges of those family or kinship ties.
In this series of writings on the Kunama pageantry and folklore, we shall be restricting our research on and description of only the kinds of the Kunama dances which are generally performed by all the Kunama people and in many occasions.
Depending on his or her dancing abilities, any participant is free to take part in or abstain him or herself from all or some of the public dances.
The Kunama, in fact, possess such a wide variety of dances and dancing arts that make it very difficult, even for the Kunama themselves, to be so good as to taking part in each kinds of dances and dancing arts.
The Kunama dances are, usually, accompanied with the beating of the drums or just with clapping of hands in concordance with the rhythm of each dancing art.
The phrase "dancing art" is intended to refer to the beating of the feet of the dancers, particularly, of those of the male dancers.
The drums are beaten solely by the women. The singing too is usually a women's prerogative, but during some dances, well-known male singers take over from the women thus giving and bringing into a dance a particular flavour.
The male or the female singer introduces a lead and repeats its refrain several times till the majority of the dancers have memorised it.
The leading singer then develops the song by adding new verses of his or her own making which, usually, explain an event, recall a particular place, praise or even ridicule the deed of a person.
The Kunama dancers, at times, could be so much carried away by the rhythm of a dance that they would not even care much about following or trying to understand the motifs of a song.
They would only and automatically repeat the refrain of the song in chorus, adapt their feet-beatings to and enjoy both the rhythm of the dance as well as of the song.
The various types of the Kunama dances will be alphabetically presented and described in our future web site news.