Peter Cooke Uganda Collection

Okwabye Olumbe

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  • Subjects

    Music and songs for Okwabye Olumbe ('Dispersing death')

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Peter Cooke Uganda Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Namuyovu village, in Sabawali gombolola (sub-county), Gomba Saza (county), Uganda

  • Performers

    Unidentified (engalabi), Unidentified (singers)

  • Recordist

    Cooke, Peter

  • Description

    Item note: Music and songs for Okwabye Olumbe ('Dispersing death') - the all-night final death rites for the head of a family (Busuulwa's father); some of the song titles are: 'Eyali akulembedde', 'Malambo', 'Omusika', 'Enkare', 'Efumbe'. Fieldworker [Peter Cooke] was invited to attend this all night ritual with Busuulwa as company. Shown to one of many small temporary grass shelters in which guests sleep. Fieldworker fell asleep and missed the most important part of the ritual before dawn when the participants burst out of the walls of the dead person's personal hut in a symbolic act of 'dispersing death'. Going to okwabye olumbe is often described as 'Going to the drum' because of the important part played by long drum (engalabi) in beating rhythms, texts and emibala (clan beats) throughout the whole ritual. Songs are sung to drum accompaniment for the whole night. Next morning the new heir (with a newly shaved bald head) is named and presented to the clan. Performer's note: Clan members of Bulasio Busuulwa's clan. Bulasio Busuulwa was a former member of the abalere ba kabaka, at that time working as an instrument maker and flute teacher at the National Teachers' college, Kyambogo, Uganda. Recording note: Recordings made from inside the guest hut - hence the rather distant sounds. Recordist's note: In Peter Cooke's notes, this is on TAPE PC 15.

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