Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dinka Men Sing Three Hymns

On November 3, 2008, Mangok Bol (Administrator of the Cultural Production program), Atem Aleu (a first year graduate student in the program) and William Malwuil (the "cultural ambassador" of the Southern Sudanese community of Massachusetts) performed three Dinka hymns, in the Lee Gallery of the Rose Art Museum at the Cultural Production/Global Studies open house at Brandeis University.

The three hymns are primarily in Dinka; they were composed by young people during the Sudanese civil war, in some instances in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The first song is visible below, and on YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ocs3TiLhFGw

Title: Absent Friends

"We greet you all, children of God,/We greet you in the name of the Trinity/We hope you are doing well/In the power of Jesus Christ Amen."

The second song is visible below and on YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zZEX6TdQTE

The song welcomes people in the Dinka language ("Kudual duan" "Greeting to all of you"), Nuer language ("Malemegua, Malmedit") and Murle language ("Abona Juru, Abona Labon")

The final song, visible below and on YouTube at,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fNmpy9gCJk

is titled, "Thiei de wel (Spread the Word).

Verse 1: I'm telling you to prepare yourself.
The day of His coming, I'm telling you. (REPEAT)

CHORUS: "The church was blessed (before us)/Jesus is our Savior/Let's come quickly and bow/I'm telling you of the day Jesus will come".

Verse 2: Eat your food but remember Him. The day of His coming, I'm telling you.
Verse 3: Wear your clothes, b
ut remember Him. The day of His coming, I'm telling you.
Verse 4: Drink you wine, b
ut remember Him. The day of His coming, I'm telling you.
Verse 5: Play your music, but remember Him. The day of His coming, I'm telling you.
Verse 6: Pray to any god,
but remember Him. The day of His coming, I'm telling you.

William plays a thom, an instrument he has constructed; these instruments, at times made out of frying pans, are common in Southern Sudanese refugee communities. Atem Aleu's drawing of a thom-player, incorrectly attributed to a different artist, is visible on the web, at
http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/sudan_center/kakuma_exhibit/untitled2.html

The South Sudanese Cultural Documentation Center at Brandeis University is a collaborative effort between the M.A. Program in Cultural Production (Brandeis University) and the Sudanese Education Fund.


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1 comment:

Ellen Schattschneider said...

The lyrics of the song "Thiei de wel (Spread the Word) evidently have performative dimensions: the listeners and singers are repeatedly enjoined to "Remember Him" throughout their entire day. In continually repeating the words, "Remember Him," the singers would seem to bring about the very state of mind in themselves that they seek to impart to others.

I'd like to know more about the circumstances of the composition of the song. Did it develop in the refugee camps a a time when belief in the Divine, and "memory" of the Lord was particularly imperiled: are the singers in effect 'reminding" themselves of something they risked forgetting.