Batswana women's songs : vehicles for enculturation, continuity and change
Dikotla, Edith Morongwa
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The research describes how the Batswma women use their songs as potential vehicles for cultural empowerment, continuity and change. The songs are regarded as a form of literature which is an integral part of culture and tribal life. From the traditional point of view, Batswana women participated in many rituals which had cultural significance. Through the songs women are able to teach culture to the younger generation, to maintain culture and its values, and also to change the culture by considering skills and knowledge that are needed for survival. The women's songs are a powerful force for social cohesion, as well as a tool for reinforcing a common identity. The songs express the values attached to the women's tradition, and also to communicate with the ancestors, who are believed to have power to cast a protective eye over the living. The research depended mainly on fieldwork that was conducted in three Batswana villages in the North-West Province of South Africa between January 1996 and May 1999. The tribes selected are the Bahu~tshe booMoilwa at Dinokana, Bakwena booMorare at Matlhaku and Batlokwa booBogatsu at Tlokweng. The information was gathered by means of interviews and a questionnaire for individuals and groups on the. different stages of female life in order to establish the potential of the women's songs as vehicles for enculturation, continuity and change. The study investigates the functions of the women's songs by means of the interaction ritual model as sources of social solidarity. Women's empowerment is viewed as the development of their knowledge skills and capacities for the purpose of social advancement and includes caring for and educating infants and children, as well as raising girls' consciousness and self-esteem. Furthermore, analysis is made of the lullabies sung to babies by mothers, older sisters and nannies, including game songs sung by young girls, which play a part in their socialization. In this research the major focus is on the analysis of the formal role of the Central ... Vlll Batswana women's songs in rainmalilng and rites of passage such as initiation. The responsibility of girls in relation to the complex nature of human relationships. love and codes of morality and their specific contribution to domestic life is viewed kom a broader perspective of interpersonal bonds within the community as a total entity. The study of the women's songs is based on cultural continuity and change in marriage, childbearing, widowhood, and in economical and political life. The potential of the songs as effective tools for interaction and communication is investigated. The study describes the performance of the songs in relation to the communication model in a particular setting where thc meaning is circulated from the performer to the audience in face-to-face interaction who will then be expected to give feedback. The women's struggle for challenging the patriarchy and making their voices heard is carried out by mcans of the songs they perform. Finally, the performance strategies and poetic tcchniques of the songs are analyzed to determine how the songs arc used in enculturation, continuity and change. Ln Nnaemeka's (1998: 1) view, "We are making our voiccs heard. May the world stop and listen".
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