Music and performance as historical sources: examples from East Africa
Francesca Declich (Universitè de Urbino)
In East Africa music and dances have been widely recognised as contexts, which have fostered integration and identity formation. Ethnic groups at the end of the nineteenth century were often identified through their dances or songs. Dances were often related to rituals and initiations. Words of songs contain important signs of historical events and can be decoded; the very existence of certain dances in certain areas may indicate movements of people occurred for different reasons. In this paper I shall present some cases of songs of several ritual songs I gathered along the Juba River in Southern Somalia among communities of descendants from escaped slaves. Historical events are described in several ritual songs. The case of masked dances from secret societies brought from Malawi to southern Somalia by slaves of the Indian Ocean trade will also be presented.