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VERBAL-TEXT AS A PROCESS OF COMPOSITIONAL AND IMPROVISATIONAL ELABORATION IN BUKUSU LITUNGU MUSIC by ABIGAEL NANCY MASASABI Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF MUSICOLOGY at the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA SUPERVISOR: DR MARIE R. JORRITSMA CO- SUPERVISOR: DR FLORENCE NGALE MIYA MAY 2011 i DECLARATION Student number: 3658-166-6 I declare that VERBAL-TEXT AS A PROCESS OF COMPOSITIONAL AND IMPROVISATIONAL ELABORATION IN BUKUSU LITUNGU MUSIC is my own work and that all sources that I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references. _______________________ SIGNATURE (Miss A N Masasabi) ______________ DATE ii DEDICATION To the late Japheth Muia Mutangili and my daughter Grace Buyanzi. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work would not have been accomplished without the moral and professional support of a number of individuals. I am particularly grateful to my supervisors for their patience, support and guidance. I thank Dr Marie Jorritsma for her perceptiveness in matters of theoretical content, language and organization. Her careful reading and criticisms led to substantial improvement in the quality of this thesis.

I am also indebted to my second supervisor Dr Florence Ngale Miya whose comments and suggestions were a source of inspiration. Dr Miya‘s encouragement and her confidence in my ability kept me going throughout my work. I thank Dr Kidula for taking time to critique my thesis, directing me to books relevant to my study and for sending me a number of articles that enhanced my thesis. I thank Dr and Prof Tamusuza for insightful criticisms to the theory, method and terminologies used in my thesis. I also thank Dr Kilonzo for her encouragement and for proofreading my thesis.

In addition I would like to appreciate Dr Omondi Okech for editing my thesis. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Fred Wekesa Kusienya and Isaac Shitubi who made my fieldwork much easier. They helped me to identify interviewees and escorted me during my fieldwork. Shitubi was instrumental during the interview process and Kusienya assisted me by verifying the translations of songs from Lubukusu to English. I appreciate the cooperation I received from my interviewees who included members of the Jackson Kisika Band, the Namatete Band, the Sinani Group Band, the Lugulu Bumusika Band and the Kwane Band.

Many thanks go to my parents Cleophas Masasabi and Grace Masasabi, my brothers Richard and Wellington, and sisters Catherine and Dorcas for their support and inspiration. Special thanks to my mother for taking care of my baby Grace as I was busy collecting data. Finally, I appreciate the almighty God for giving me strength and the sound mind to undertake this study. iv ABSTRACT The Bukusu community is predominantly found in Bungoma district of Western Kenya. The Litungu is a word referring to a lyre among the Bukusu community. Music accompanied by this instrument is what is referred to as Litungu music.

This music makes use of sung text and “verbal-text”/ silao-sikeleko (speech and speech-melody) and silao-sikeleko is the focal point of this study. Silao-sikeleko is performed in alternation with sung text in Litungu music. This study seeks to identify the cultural and compositional role of silao-sikeleko in the music. To achieve the objectives of this study I used a qualitative approach to collect and analyze data. Data collection included the use of interviews and observation. The interviewees included performers of Litungu music, whose music was audio recorded and video recorded for analysis.

In addition, I made observations of the performance sites and performance behaviour, taking notes and making audio and video recording. Music for analysis was then selected on the basis that it had the silao-sikeleko component. The Bukusu cultural view of silao-sikeleko is discussed in relation to their customs and way of life. The execution of silao-sikeleko is based on a culturally conceived framework that allows the involvement of various performers in the performance composition process. Here the contexts within which silao-sikeleko is performed are identified.

Analysis of the relationship between sung text and silao-sikeleko established that whereas the two are thematically unified, silaosikeleko substantiates the sung texts by facilitating an understanding of messages contained in the songs. The analysis of language use ascertained that silao-sikeleko makes use of language devices such as proverbs, idioms, symbolism, riddles and similes. I established that silao-sikeleko as a performance compositional element has its own presentational structure that influences the overall structure of the Litungu music.

Litungu music has a quasi-rondoic structure whose output is not static but varies according to context and the wishes of the soloist. The soloist interprets how effectively a given message has been communicated during performance determining how much silao-sikeleko should be performed. Silao-sikeleko is in most cases composed and performed by various members of a performing group. Key terms: Kenyan music, Bukusu music, Bukusu culture, Litungu music, silao-sikeleko, performance composition, music composition, song text, music structure, improvisation. v

TABLE OF CONTENTS DECLARATION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ii DEDICATION ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS …………………………………………………………………………………………….. iv ABSTRACT …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ILLUSTRATIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix LIST OF FIGURES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. ix LIST OF TABLES ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. x LIST OF PLATES ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. DEFINITION OF TERMS ……………………………………………………………………………………………… xi CHAPTER ONE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1 INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1 1. 1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY …………………………………………………………………………….. 1 1. 1. 1 Who are the Bukusu? ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2 1. 1. 1. 1 Bukusu Origin and Settlement …………………………………………………………………… 3 1. 1. 1. 2 The Bukusu Family and Social Life ………………………………………………………………… 6 1. 1. 2 Bukusu Litungu Music ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 10 1. 1. 2. 1. Litungu Music in the Community …………………………………………………………………. 0 1. 1. 2. 2. Gender Issues in Litungu Music …………………………………………………………………… 11 1. 1. 2. 3. Construction of the Litungu …………………………………………………………………………. 12 1. 1. 2. 4. Litungu Performance Technique and Ensemble ……………………………………………… 14 1. 2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ………………………………………………………………………. 19 1. 3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES ………………………………………………………………………………….. 0 1. 4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS …………………………………………………………………………………… 20 1. 5 RATIONALE AND SIGNIFICANCE ……………………………………………………………………. 21 1. 6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION …………………………………………………………………………………. 22 1. 7 THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK …………………………………………. 23 CHAPTER TWO ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8 LITERATURE REVIEW ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 28 2. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 28 2. 2 COMPOSITIONAL ELEMENTS IN AFRICAN MUSICS ………………………………………. 28 2. 3 SONG TEXTS AND SILAO-SIKELEKO………………………………………………………………… 38 2. 4 CREATIVE PROCESS IN AFRICAN MUSIC ……………………………………………………….. 44 2. CONCLUSION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 48 CHAPTER THREE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 49 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY ……………………………………………………………… 49 3. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 49 3. 2 RESEARCH DESIGN ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 49 3. POPULATION AND SAMPLING ………………………………………………………………………… 50 3. 3. 1 Target population …………………………………………………………………………………………. 50 3. 3. 2 Purposive sampling ………………………………………………………………………………………. 50 3. 3. 3 Snowball sampling ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 51 3. 4 DATA COLLECTION …………………………………………………………………………………………. 2 vi 3. 4. 1 Fieldwork ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 53 3. 4. 2 Interview method …………………………………………………………………………………………. 54 3. 4. 3 Observation …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 56 3. 4. 4 Note taking ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 56 3. 4. 5 Audio and video ecording…………………………………………………………………………….. 57 3. 4. 6 Photography ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 57 3. 5 DATA PROCESSING, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION……………………………….. 58 3. 8 CONCLUSION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 58 CHAPTER FOUR …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 0 FORMAL STRUCTURE OF LITUNGU MUSIC ……………………………………………………………… 60 4. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 60 4. 2 SILAO-SIKELEKO STRUCTURE …………………………………………………………………………. 61 4. 2. 1 Narration ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 62 4. 2. 2 Dialogue by Two People…………………………………………………………………………………. 3 4. 2. 3 Dialogue by More Than Two People ………………………………………………………………… 64 4. 3 OCCURRENCE OF SILAO-SIKELEKO…………………………………………………………………. 67 4. 4 THE CONSTRUCTION OF INSTRUMENTAL PHRASES …………………………………….. 71 4. 5 OVERALL FORM OF LITUNGU MUSIC …………………………………………………………….. 79 4. 7 CONCLUSION ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2 CHAPTER FIVE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 94 THE CULTURAL ROLE OF SILAO-SIKELEKO IN BUKUSU LITUNGU MUSIC ……………. 94 5. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 94 5. 2 THE ORIGIN OF THE SILAO-SIKELEKO ELEMENT IN LITUNGU MUSIC ………….. 95 5. 3 CONTEXT OF SILAO-SIKELEKO IN LITUNGU MUSIC ……………………………………….. 97 5. CULTURAL FUNCTION OF SILAO-SIKELEKO IN LITUNGU MUSIC ………………… 105 5. 4. 1 Introduction and Acknowledge Personalities …………………………………………………… 105 5. 4. 2 Education ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 108 5. 4. 3 Self Expression ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 113 5. 4. 4 Social Commentary………………………………………………………………………………………. 113 5. CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 121 CHAPTER SIX …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 123 SUNG TEXT AND SILAO-SIKELEKO …………………………………………………………………………. 123 6. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 123 6. 2 THEMATIC ROLE OF SILAO-SIKELEKO ………………………………………………………….. 24 6. 3 QUANTITY OF SILAO-SIKELEKO IN LITUNGU MUSIC ……………………………………. 136 6. 4 LANGUAGE USE ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 141 6. 4. 1. Prose vs Poetry……………………………………………………………………………………………. 143 6. 4. 3. Imagery ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 145 6. 4. 6. Proverbs and Sayings …………………………………………………………………………………… 48 6. 4. 7. Symbolism …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 152 6. 4. 9. Riddle ………………………………………………………………….. ……………………………………. 155 6. 4. 10. Idiomatic Expression …………………………………………………………………………………. 156 6. 4. 11. Allegory …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 156 6. 5.

WORDS DEPICTING RELATIONSHIPS …………………………………………………………… 158 6. 6 CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 160 CHAPTER SEVEN …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 163 vii PERFORMANCE COMPOSITION IN BUKUSU LITUNGU MUSIC ……………………………… 163 7. 1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 63 7. 2 PREREQUISITES FOR THE IMPROVISATIONAL PROCESS ……………………………. 165 7. 2. 1 Prolonged Exposure to Music ………………………………………………………………………… 167 7. 2. 2 Knowledge and Mastery of Lubukusu …………………………………………………………….. 171 7. 2. 3. Knowledge of Cultural Environment and Events …………………………………………….. 173 7. 2. 4. Presence and Maturity of Audience ……………………………………………………………….. 174 7. 2. 5.

Intra-Group and Inter-Group Interaction ………………………………………………………… 175 7. 2. 6. Knowledge of Instrumental Genre …………………………………………………………………. 176 7. 3 THE CONSTANT AND VARIED FEATURES OF LITUNGU MUSIC ………………….. 177 7. 4 THE CREATIVE PROCESSES …………………………………………………………………………… 188 7. 5 CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 193 CHAPTER EIGHT …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 195 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS……………………………………….. 195 8. 1 SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 195 8. 2 CONCLUSIONS………………………………………………………………………………………………… 195 8. 3 RECOMMENDATIONS …………………………………………………………………………………….. 99 BIBLIOGRAPHY ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 201 APPENDIX I ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 216 SONGS IN LUBUKUSU AND THEIR TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH ……………………… 216 APPENDIX II …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 252 CONSENT FORM FOR RESEARCH ASSISTANTS …………………………………………………….. 52 APPENDIX III ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 254 CONSENT FORM FOR INTERVIEWEES ……………………………………………………………………. 254 APPENDIX 1V …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 255 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS …………………………………………………………………………………………. 55 APPENDIX V …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 256 FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION INTERVIEW GUIDE …………………………………………………… 256 APPENDIX VI……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 257 INDEX TO AUDIO CD ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 257 viii ILLUSTRATIONS LIST OF FIGURES 1. 1 Map of Kenya showing the location of Bungoma district 1. An Example of a Seven-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern 1. 3. An Example of an Eight-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern 1. 4. An Example of a Twelve-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern 1. 5 Interpretation of Regula Qureshi’s performance model of musical analysis 4. 1 Chingubo by the Lugulu Bumusika Band showing Isiriri and Litungu phrases 4. 2 First variation performed by the Isiriri in the song Chingubo (Lubao 2007) 4. 3 Second variation performed by the Isiriri in the song Chingubo (Lubao 2007) 4. 4 Solo-response of the song entitled Chingubo against instrumental accompaniment 4. a Litungu phrase of the song entitled Endakano (Lubao 2007) 4. 5b Isiriri phrase of the song entitled Endakano (Lubao 2007) 4. 6 Litungu phrase of the song Mayi (Namatete 2007) 4. 7 Resultant instrumental music of the song Mayi (Namatete 2007) 4. 8 Call and Response excerpt from the song Ewuyo Ino (Mukubwa 2007) 4. 9 Call and Refrain excerpt from the song Nekoye (Manyali 2000) 4. 10 Solo and Chorused Refrain excerpt from the song Ewuyo Ino (Mukubwa 2007) 4. 11 Strophic form excerpt from the song Namulobi (Namatete 2007) 4. 12 Background, middle ground and foreground features of Litungu music 7. An excerpt from the song Eswa by the Kwane Band 7. 2 Ewuyo Ino theme by the Kwane Band 7. 3. Ewuyo Ino vocal theme by the Lugulu Bumusika Band 4 14 14 14 26 73 74 74 75 76 76 77 77 82 82 82 83 91 170 177 178 7. 4 Relationship between the vocal melody and the drone as performed by Kwane Band 179 7. 5 New vocal melody introduced by Kwane Band in the song Ewuyo Ino 7. 6 Lugulu Bumusika Band’s first new melody in the song Ewuyo Ino 7. 7 The Lugulu Bumusika Band’s second new melody in the song Ewuyo Ino 7. 8 Mayi Muro by the Kisika Band 179 179 180 181 7. Excerpt of the song Mayi Muro showing the relationship between the vocal melody and the instrumental part as performed by Kwane Band 7. 10 Vocal melody of the song Mayi Muro as performed by Lugulu Bumusika Band ix 181 181 7. 11 The Kwane Band’s new material to the song Mayi Muro 7. 12 Opening excerpt of the song Kulukulu wa Bwabi as performed by Kwane Band 7. 13 Opening excerpt of the song Kulukulu wa Bwabi by the Lugulu Bumusika Band 7. 14 Thematic melody of the song Kulukulu wa Bwabi 7. 15 Thematic variation of Kulukulu wa Bwabi by Kwane Band LIST OF TABLES 4. Frequency of silao-sikeleko in Bukusu Litungu music 4. 2 Structure of songs 4. 3 The first quasi-rondoic form presentation 4. 4 Structure of the first presentation of quasi-rondoic form in the song Nekoye 4. 5 Structure of the first presentation of quasi-rondoic form in the song Mayi muro 4. 6 Structure of the first presentation of quasi-rondoic form in the song Ewuyo Ino 4. 7 Structure of the second quasi-rondoic form presentation in the song Yekamakhanya 4. 8 Structure of the second quasi-rondoic form presentation in the song Lijembe 4. Structure of the third presentation of quasi-rondoic form in the song Namulobi 4. 10 Structure of the third presentation of quasi-rondoic form in the song Endakano 6. 1A Quantity of silao-sikeleko and sung text 6. 1B Percentage of silao-sikeleko by group 6. 2 Length of silao-sikeleko in Litungu 182 184 185 186 186 69 80 87 87 88 88 89 89 90 90 137 138 139 LIST OF PLATES 1A Parts of the Litungu. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 7th May 2010 1B Playing position of the Litungu, demonstrated by Wekesa Kusienya. 2 The Isiriri. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 6th February 2007 3 Siiye.

Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 6th February 2007 4 The improvised drum played by Wekesa Kusienya 5 First structure of silao-sikeleko 6 Second structure of silao-sikeleko 7 Third structure of silao-sikeleko 8 Kwane Band, Sylvester Mukubwa on the Litungu and Caleb Wangila on the Isiriri 13 15 17 17 18 64 65 68 163 x DEFINITION OF TERMS Abaluhya This word refers to a community in Western Kenya. The word is used interchangeably with the words Baluhya, and Luhya to mean the same thing. Composition As a product, compositions are musical concepts that have been assimilated and are integral to a Bukusu musician.

They are called upon to inform the process of music making. As a process composition is the act of formulating new musical ideas within the Bukusu musical cultural genre. The ideas are mainly conceived and rehearsed before the actual performance. Dominant The fifth tone on the fifth open string, a perfect fifth from the referential tone. Improvisation Creation of music in the course of performance; this is similar to extemporization. Improvised drum This is a plastic water container turned upside down whose base is struck by sticks to produce rhythmic accompaniment in Litungu music. It is used instead of the traditional drum called Efumbo.

Khulaa-khukeleka To verbalize or utter the speech and speech-melody sections of Bukusu Litungu music. Mediant The third tone of the third open string, a major third from the referential tone. xi Omukeleki The person who speaks or performs speech-melody in Litungu music. In plural they are called Bakeleki. Performance composition This is the process of formulating new musical ideas as variations of the existing melodies and silao-sikeleko within a given context during performance. Quasi-rondoic A musical form that is similar to rondo form with some deviations from the conventional rondo format.

It does not always start with an “a” section alternating with other sections (b, c, d, and so on). Silao-sikeleko Silao-sikeleko encompasses speech and speech-melody as musical elements in Litungu music. The term is used as a synonym to verbal-text. Subdominant The fourth tone on the fourth open string, a perfect fourth from the referential tone. Supertonic The second tone, on the second open string, a major second from the referential tone. Tonic This is the referential tone in Litungu music which is normally on the first open string of the Litungu from the left. xii CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Performance composition and/or improvisation are common characteristic features of musics on the African continent. 1 Performance composition refers to the creative perspective of music during a performance in a given socio-cultural context. Such a process is facilitated by the fact that musics from oral cultures are not notated but passed on orally from one generation to another, thus memory is essential. This study is based on the Bukusu people’s Litungu music. The Bukusu culture has been transmitted orally thus the musicians who are cultural transmitters depend heavily on their memory.

Within this culture musical composition can be perceived as products and processes. As a product, compositions are musical concepts that have been assimilated and are integral to a Bukusu musician. They are called upon to inform the process of music making. As a process composition is the act of formulating new musical ideas within the Bukusu musical cultural genre. The ideas are mainly conceived and rehearsed before the actual performance. In the process of performance, anyone listening to Litungu music cannot escape hearing verbal-text/ silao-sikeleko as part of the musical experience.

The occurrence of silaosikeleko in Litungu music is as captivating as it is educative and appears many times in the performances of this musical genre. Silao-sikeleko is a term I use to refer to both speech and speech-melody. My study of Litungu music separates sung text from speech and speech-melody. The speech aspect of silao-sikeleko is performed as narrations and/or dialogue. I have preferred to consider speech-melody as part of silao-sikeleko for three reasons. First, the amount of text used and the rate at which words unfold as speech-melody are similar to that of speech.

Second, speech and speech-melody unfold in prose, and third, speech-melody and speech in Litungu music are so intertwined that it is sometimes not easy to separate the two when listening to the music. For a further discussion of performance composition and improvisation as used in this thesis refer to chapter seven. 1 1 In order to understand the compositional process, I analyze how silao-sikeleko is composed and performed, and also where and when silao-sikeleko occurs in Litungu music. In this regard, the study perceives silao-sikeleko as a musical element and relates it to other musical elements within Litungu music.

Furthermore, there is emphasis on the comparison between silao-sikeleko and sung text, because both silao-sikeleko and sung text are made up of words. I also analyze the instrumental phrases over which silao-sikeleko is performed. Once the relationship between silao-sikeleko and other musical elements within Litungu music is established, it becomes easier to identify the function of silao-sikeleko in the music. Even though silao-sikeleko is both a process and a product, my study concentrates primarily on silao-sikeleko as a process of performance composition.

As a product, silao-sikeleko normally exists after the performance has been completed in the minds of the audience and the performers. Likewise, the recordings of Litungu music obtained during my fieldwork also contain examples of silao-sikeleko as the products of the performance compositional events. As a process, silaosikeleko keeps unfolding during the performance composition of Litungu music. A song performed on different occasions by the same band has different words as silao-sikeleko but the song theme is maintained.

The performance composition of silao-sikeleko takes place within the Bukusu socio-cultural environment. To create relevant social context, the following sections describe the Bukusu people and their cultural beliefs and practices that affect the performance of silao-sikeleko. This is then followed by a discussion of Bukusu music and Litungu music in particular. 1. 1. 1 Who are the Bukusu? The Bukusu, who call themselves “Babukusu”, are a sub-tribe of the Abaluhya community, who migrated from the region around Cameroon as part of the large group of Bantu-speaking people.

They moved eastwards to what is presently central Uganda and then settled around the Mount Elgon. From there they settled in their current location (Makila 1978: 26). In Kenya, the Abaluhya settled mainly in western Kenya and parts of the Rift valley. With regard to social communication, the Luluhya language consists of seventeen dialects with the prefix “Ava”, “Aba” or “Ba” depending on the Luhya dialect of origin. Apart from the Babukusu dialect, the other sub-tribes are Bamarachi, Bakhayo, Babedakho, Babesukha, Batiriki, Basamia, Banyole, 2

Barakoli, Bawanga, Bamarama, Bakisa, Bamateka, Bachocho, Bakabarasi, Batachoni and Banyala (Wanyama 2006: 1-3). Even though the sub-tribes are many and appear different, they do have some similarities in their cultural practices (Gwako 1998: 176). For instance, they believe in God whom they call “Were” or “Nyasaye” depending on dialect; they name their children after climatic conditions or major social events; they practise male circumcision as a rite of passage; and they have lengthy greetings as exemplified by Salome Nanyama’s greeting dialogue on page 8 and 9.

More significant to this study is the fact that the sub-tribes also share some melodies but with slightly different words due to the close geographical location of the sub-tribes. 2 A common instrument among them is the one-stringed fiddle called eshilili, isiriri, siiriri or kiiriri, depending on the dialect. 1. 1. 1. 1 Bukusu Origin and Settlement The Bukusu have a myth that serves to explain their origin, namely, that Wele Khakaba (God) created Mwambu (man) out of mud. He also created a wife for him called Sela (Makila 1986: 1823).

The stories about Mwambu and Sela as the fore-fathers are narrated in Bukusu music as both silao-sikeleko and sung text (see the song Sellah in Appendix 1, page 240). 3 It is believed that the creation took place at Mumbo (west) from where they migrated to settle at the foothills of Mount Elgon. In this area they were in constant conflict with the Kalenjin community who forced them to move further south west which is their present location (Wanyama 2006: 1-3). The migration story is so deeply entrenched in the Bukusu culture that it is addressed in their music with the song entitled Ewuyo Ino (see Appendix 1, page 242).

This song stands out in the community as it is frequently performed by various musicians within the community. Makila (1978: 134-162) informs us of the migration movements of the Bukusu in detail and cites overpopulation, differences among members of the community and wars with neighbouring communities as the chief reasons for the migration. As they moved, several of their kinsmen like the Ugandan Bamasaaba or the Gisu, remained in Uganda. The Abaluhya community is made up of various sub-tribes as mentioned and each sub tribe is made up of related families called clans. The two words Sela and Sellah refer to the first female parent of the Bukusu. Makila spells the name using one L while the Lugulu Bumusika Band use two Ls. 2 3 Figure 1. 1 Map of Kenya showing the location of Bungoma District Source: “District Development Plan, Bungoma 1994-1996”: page Vii. In Rural Planning Department, Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Planning and National Development 4 This group of people are constantly mentioned among the Bukusu because they share their cultural beliefs; the Babukusu and the Bamasaaba are brothers.

The circumcision music performed among the Babukusu and the Bamasaaba is so similar that at times it is difficult to tell the difference. The Bukusu are predominantly found in the former Bungoma district at the foothills of Mount Elgon, while others have spilt over to the neighbouring Trans-Nzoia and Mount Elgon districts (Wanyama 2005: 1-3). The Bungoma district in the Western province of Kenya is bordered by the Kakamega District to the east, the Busia District to the south, Mount Elgon to the north and Uganda to the west as shown on the map (see Figure 1. 1).

The “cultural identity of a people is based upon and consists of the totality of their values, norms, traditions, customs, languages and their inward and outward manifestation” (Were 1985: 5). These are influenced in part by their environment. The Bukusu practice agriculture because Bungoma is blessed with many rivers and streams, and has open, undulating grasslands that in some places are interrupted by rocky hills and patches of forests. The land is fertile and well watered, experiencing a two months dry spell between December and late January. [The main rainy seasons occur between March and May, and between September and October.

This together with the availability of rich agricultural soils] … contribute immensely to the cultivation of food crops like millet, sorghum and maize, and rearing of farm animals. (Wanyama 2005: 1-3) Farm work is basically a woman’s work, and in addition, they are expected to attend to all household duties. “Wives are … responsible for cultivating enough food for themselves and their children and husband[s] and must prepare it” (de Wolf 1977: 32). The importance of cultivation is echoed in some of their songs such as Lijembe (hoe) as performed by the Lugulu Bumusika Band (see CD1 track 5).

Apart from cultivation, the Bukusu rear cattle which are an important source of wealth and the main the form of bride price. The value placed in cattle used as bride price is depicted in the song Kunikina as performed by Kwane Band. The cattle in their environment also provide the required materials (animal tendons) for the construction of their musical instruments. The Bukusu regard weather conditions as important within their culture, not only for the purpose of knowing when to plant and harvest but as a reference point in their oral traditions.

Periods of famine have been nicknamed by the community according to the memorable events of those 5 periods. The names are well known to the members of the community and are even used to estimate the ages of some members who have no written records of their dates of birth. Similarly, seasons are reflected in the choice of names, for example, a child born during the rainy season is called “Nafula” or “Wafula”. The suffix “fula” comes from the word “efula” meaning rain. The prefix “N” is used to denote female names while “W” is used for male names.

The names “Nekesa” or “Wekesa” are usually given to those born during the harvesting season, where the suffix “kesa” comes from the verb infinitive “khukesa” meaning “to harvest”. Likewise, people with the name “Nanjala” or “Wanjala” are born during drought or famine, where the suffix “njala” comes from the word “enjala” meaning “famine” or “drought”. Extreme weather conditions such as drought become a theme of musical composition, where their drastic effects are mentioned, for example as in the song Yekamakhanya as performed by the Mvumilivu Band. 4 1. 1. 1. 2 The Bukusu Family and Social Life Most families among the Bukusu are polygamous.

Traditionally, a man can marry many wives depending on his wealth, as the number of wives signifies his wealth. Among the wives, the first wife is highly esteemed and her children, especially the sons, are given first priority when it comes to property inheritance. In fact, the “Bukusu say that elder sons can take over the younger widows of their father” (de Wolf 1977: 32). De Wolf (Ibid. ) continues to explain that daughters have virtually no permanent position in Bukusu families: they are viewed as other men’s future wives, and are brought up to fulfil this role.

They do not inherit property and are excluded from decision-making within the family. In the villages, the village elders (Omukasa) have the highest authority, while in the families, the man is the highest authority followed by his first wife’s eldest son. However, the changes in the political and societal structure arising from colonialism and subsequent independence in Kenya, introduced other administrative units. From the lowest level upwards, they include the village elder, Assistant Chief, Chief, District Officer, District Commissioner, Provincial Commissioner and the President.

This administrative structure was implemented during the colonial era in Kenya and it is perceived as an extension of the systems of leadership that is culturally practiced among the Bukusu. Jackson Kisika, a seventy-five year old Litungu player, perceives the above-mentioned seven administrative jurisdictions as reflected in the construction of the Litungu, especially on account of the fact that the seven strings 4 This word does not have an English translation. It is just a name given to a famine period. 6 represent the seven levels of administration (interview, February 6, 2007). According to Kisika the seven strings represent the seven levels of administration. Families identify themselves with the father’s name and clans which underscores the place of men in the society. Once a woman gets married, she takes her husband’s name as her surname (last name). The children also use their father’s name and clan name. A married woman is identified by her husband’s clan. Among the Bukusu, clan identities are very important; it is believed that each clan has a unique quality or characteristic feature. For example, the Bakhone and Babasaba people are circumcisers while the Balunda people are traditionally known as rainmakers.

Some of these clan identities are mentioned as part of silao-sikeleko in Litungu music when the performers of Litungu music introduce themselves and other members of the community. The ability to procreate is hailed among the Bukusu. A woman who is unable to give birth is the subject of mockery. It is a pre-requisite that one must have had children in order to be honoured with the ritual of kumuse. This emphasizes and celebrates procreation as a means of ensuring survival and continuity of the community. It is accordingly seen as a means to neutralize the tragic effects of death (Makokha 2002: 4).

Where there is polygamy, the issue of stepmothers is inevitable as well as the mistreatment of children by their stepmothers. Since the children are not allowed to speak openly about their mistreatment, they do so in song. A common example of a song sung to express their sentiments is Mayi muro sali mayi (A stepmother is not a mother) (see CD 1 track 1, CD 2 track 4) for the different renditions of the song. Bukusu verbal communications are enriched with proverbs and sayings which find their way into musical performances. The proverbs are a means of communication that circulate messages to educate, reject bad behaviour and uphold good morals.

The sayings, proverbs and symbols exist to emphasise what is being said. The frequent use of proverbs by the older generation, portray Out of all the interviewees in this study, it is only Jackson Kisika who relates the seven administrative levels to the number of strings. I believe that this is his personal opinion since the Litungu existed long before colonialism. 5 7 the latter’s prowess and eloquence in the language. Such language is a form of aesthetic expression that is highly regarded among the Bukusu. One ceremonial occasion that is greatly enhanced with the use of proverbs is during a beer party.

This is an occasion that grants the older men in society an opportunity to socialize with their peers. Participation in beer parties is restricted to men who are married, have recognized social status and are mature in age. Sylvester Mukubwa (interview, 3rd May 2007) explained that, a man without a wife was not welcome in gatherings (beer parties) where other men were. This is because the Bukusu community believes that he had nothing to share and tell the others thus he was not qualified to address people. Mukubwa (Ibid. ) further explains that conversations of the ld men were done in hushed tones as they exchanged proverbs and sayings. Women accompanying their husbands could silently participate in beer parties. The community’s code of conduct required them to sit on the ground while their male counterparts sat on three-legged stools. The women only remained for a short while and then left to prepare food for their men and children. Musicians invited to perform in this kind of gathering played and sang in hushed tones, especially during the solo sections; the choral responses were a little bit louder. They used hushed tones to ensure secrecy of the discussions.

Music performed in this context was aimed at praising the old men and their achievements. In such a context, proverbs and sayings both in the music and the conversations were never substantiated (Ibid. ). However, the kind of privacy that was experienced in the pre-colonial days has been discontinued. Nowadays the youth drink with the old making a mockery of what was deemed “sacred”. Young people’s preference for loud musical performances has marred the serene drinking environment. Incidences of drunk and disorderly behaviour are now much more prevalent than they were in the past.

The Bukusu are known for their elaborate greetings, earning them the name the Mulembe people, a term meaning “greetings” or “peace”. The Bukusu salutation involves inquiries about the wellbeing of other family members, livestock and the weather. In some cases the greetings include a brief summary and acknowledgement of one’s lineage. Hand shaking is a common practice and does not only involve the clasping of hands but a vigorous jerking of the arm. I remember the elongated greeting I received from my grandmother when I went to the village to visit her. In brief this is how it would sound, 8

Lubukusu Mwana wo mwana wase, oriena? Olimulamu? Mulembe, mwana wase. Mwana womumaina, wakhebulile luno? English The child of my child, how are you? Are you fine? My child I greet you. Daughter of the circumcised, Omumaina6 you have remembered me this day? Omwana we lukhamba lwase mubuele, Child of my pride in youth, Mwana we Bakiabi, ofuototokha? Child of the Bakiabi, are you well? 7 Bukokhe mayi wasala, owandela, kanunia, Bukokhe my mother, the one who Nekhoile khukhubona. Brought me up and breastfed me, am glad to see you. Nabumbo mukhana wase okhanjibilila ta Nabumbo my daughter, do not forget Niwe oliisikha. bout me. You will be the one to bury me. Bawandaye bariena? How are your brothers and sisters? th (Salome Nanyama, personal communication, 5 June 2004) This type of greeting could last for five minutes in certain instances. Such greetings are also expressed in Bukusu music and are typically displayed in the form of silao-sikeleko, when the musicians are given an opportunity to salute other members of the community. Snippets of such greetings are exemplified in the songs Omundu and Enju Yo Muluya, both performed by the Lugulu Bumusika Band. Initiation as a rite of passage among the Bukusu is very important.

They practise male circumcision and every male member of the community must be circumcised either as part of the initiation ritual or in hospital. Circumcision takes place during every even-numbered year. The practice is linked to a myth that is often told. The myth states that there was a beast that lived in a cave near the Bukusu and the Sabaot, a sub-tribe of the Kalenjin community. This beast was a nuisance to the two communities and caused a lot of fear. The beast killed their livestock every day. Mango, a very brave warrior among the Bukusu, planned an attack on the beast and then single-handedly fought and killed it.

The Sabaot were amazed at his bravery and decided to circumcise him. It is then that Mango sung the song, Sioyaye, a victory song sung during the circumcision rite when the initiate goes to his father’s home from the river (Wanyama 2006: 4-1 6 A circumcision age set among the Bukusu in which my father belongs. Bakiabi is the name of my father’s clan. 7 9 to 4-4). From that moment the Bukusu adopted the circumcision practice, imitating what their neighbours, the Sabaot, were doing. Once a member of the community is circumcised he belongs to an age group that has a name; some of the age groups are Bachuma, Basawe and Bamaina.

This event is accompanied by music and dance; the content of the music in terms of silaosikeleko depicts the history of the circumcision ritual with messages of encouragement to the brave and loathing to the coward. 1. 1. 2 Bukusu Litungu Music 1. 1. 2. 1. Litungu Music in the Community Nandwa and Bukenya (1983: 85) state that, “Song and dance pervades the whole spectrum of African traditional life. There are songs for every stage and occasion of a person’s life from cradle to the grave”. Music is an important aspect of the Bukusu community’s culture. Music in African communities is functional (Okafor and Emeka 1998: 141).

In fact, this means that every social occasion has a specified musical performance that is acceptable in the community. The main musical instrument of the Bukusu people is the Litungu. The Litungu plays an important role in any accompanied music making. For the Bukusu people, the instrument is a source of aesthetic appeal; that is why they also refer to it as “Lusia” that literally means ‘a string’. The author (2002:14) states that, “the words ‘Lusia lulayi’ used to describe good music” literally mean “a good string” in reference to appealing music which is performed on the Litungu.

It is this attribute that led her to choose their accompanied music, but this does not mean that all their music is accompanied. Songs may be accompanied by musical instruments or unaccompanied depending on the occasion within which the music is performed. In cases where musical instruments are used, they are not all utilized at the same time. For instance, during circumcision, especially when the initiates move from one relative to the other to inform them of their intention to be initiated, they basically use the instrument known as Chinyimba (indigenous hand bells).

At this stage in the circumcision ceremony the Litungu is not used (Wanyama 2006: 4-5). Social control is exercised regarding occasion, time and place as well as age and sex of members of the audience. 10 1. 1. 2. 2. Gender Issues in Litungu Music As gender discourse in ethnomusicology continues to gain significance in current research approaches, this section offers commentary on some gender issues, cultural beliefs and practices among the Bukusu that affected this study.

A woman has specified roles within the Bukusu community; this includes cooking for the family, fetching water from the river or well, fetching firewood, cultivating, planting and harvesting, grinding grains and taking care of her husband and children (this involves attending to their emotional and physical needs). These very roles are identified by Bwonya (1998: 56-63) who explains the gender roles among the Maragoli, another sub-tribe of the Luhyia community. Ownership of property is reserved only for men; women and children are also owned by the men together with the farm land and houses.

The function of women is demonstrated in the fact that they are expected to defer to men especially their husbands, fathers-in-law, and the older brothers of their husbands. Thus in a conversation with any of these men, women will tend (or are expected) to lower their heads, fold their hands, and look down. This is regarded as a sign of submission. Women have no voice of their own; they “are expected to yield to the wishes of men” (Ibid. ). They also “identify themselves according to their father’s clans” (Hakansson 1994: 517). As a woman in this community, I have witnessed several instances that relegate women to a subordinate position.

For instance, in May 2007 while carrying out fieldwork, a friend was to get married and the usual dowry negotiation was planned. Before this took place, a formal introduction was made whereby the lady to be married, Mary (not her real name) was to introduce her fiance Tom (not his real name) to her family members. These family members did not only include the immediate family but the extended family of the Bukusu community. Tom came with his mother and uncle since his mother and father were separated. After the usual celebrations of feasting, came the occasion’s core purpose, namely, the introductions.

When Tom’s mother introduced herself and her brother-in-law, there was uproar from Mary’s relatives who were mainly Mary’s father, uncles and grandfathers. They instigated a tense environment as they demanded to know why Tom’s father was not present. Accusations were thrown at Tom’s mother for stealing someone’s son, since according to them a child belongs to the father and not to the mother. The Bukusu men refused to talk to her, noting that they could not discuss such matters with a woman. It took the intervention of Mary’s mother, who sought permission from her husband to speak, to have the Bukusu men listen to her, albeit reluctantly.

When Tom’s mother left, she was a very distressed woman. Such situations attest to 11 the community’s perception of women and their societal roles even within the performance of Litungu music. Women were not allowed to play or even to touch the Litungu in the traditional setting. Playing was the preserve of the male members of the community, but recent changes in the socio-cultural context have seen a few women venture into Litungu playing. When I was interviewing the Namatete Band members, I observed a young girl dressed in primary school uniform play a smaller version of the Litungu.

Regarding this matter we had a conversation with Tom Kukubo (Interview, 7th February 2007). Researcher: Who could have taught this young lady? Tom Kukubo: Some children have learnt how to play the Litungu from school. Researcher: You mean there are lessons on how to play the Litungu at school? Tom Kukubo: No! There is a teacher in one of the primary schools in Sirisia, who has been teaching some pupils the Bukusu traditional dance, Kamabeka, for the music festival. In the process, the teacher has been forced to teach some pupils how to play the Litungu to accompany the dance.

He went on to reveal that she was a female teacher who taught some pupils and had been taught how to play the Litungu by her father. 1. 1. 2. 3. Construction of the Litungu The Litungu (see Plate 1A) was originally constructed with seven strings. In relation to the pitch given to the first string by the performer composer, the successive intervals between the strings from left to right form the structure as shown in Figure 1. 2. This instrument is made out of wood measuring “about 75 cm long and approximately half of its entire length is taken up by its oval body.

Over the open part of this sound-box is stretched a skin, usually that of a giant monitor lizard, but also nowadays a cowhide is used for this purpose, which is secured round the edges by wooden pegs or, in modern times nails” (Wanyama 2007: 23). 12 In order to emulate other bands, the traditional instruments such as the Litungu have been modified by increasing the number of strings from the traditional seven to twelve strings. 8 However, not all Litungus are modified. Seven-stringed versions are performed alongside the modified varieties.

The seven-stringed ones are at times performed alongside the guitar and keyboard. Consequently, there is a new sound that is packaged for the music industry. Plate 1A. Parts of the Litungu, Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 7th May 2010 and labelling done by Dominic Khaemba 8 The Litungu musicians listen to different bands through live performances and mass media in Kenya. 13 Figure 1. 2. An Example of a Seven-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern k k k k a k k k T T S T T TS9 Such changes to musical instruments are as a result of social contact with musics foreign to Bukusu culture.

As the Litungu has been made to perform alongside the guitar, in some cases, the Litungu has to conform to a compromised tuning system. The eight-stringed Litungu has the following intervals between its strings; T T S T T T S, (see Figure 1. 3) while the twelve-stringed one has the intervals T T S T T T S T T S T (see Figure 1. 4). Figure 1. 3. An Example of an Eight-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern k k k k a k k k k T T S T T T S Figure 1. 4. An Example of a Twelve-Stringed Litungu Scalic Pattern k k k k k k k k k a k k k T T S T T T S T T S T 1. 1. 2. 4.

Litungu Performance Technique and Ensemble In performance, the instrument is placed across the lap with the performer in a sitting position (see Plate 1B). The strings are then plucked to produce sound. As the music builds to a climax, the player stands up and begins to dance. It is customary for the player to introduce himself, his instrument and his performance by stating the song title. The use of western terms to refer to Litungu musical scale is due to the lack of alternative terminologies to depict the relationship between and among the different notes. 9 14 Plate 1B.

Playing position of the Litungu demonstrated by Wekesa Kusienya. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi on 12th May 2010. Used with permission by Kusienya 15 As the music proceeds, the soloist begins a spoken dialogue with other members of the performing group or a member of the audience. The Litungu is used to accompany song during weddings, funerals, circumcision and general entertainment. The player can play an ostinato while singing a melody or he can play harmonic accompaniments to the vocal melody. This technique is similar to that of the Batachoni and Bakabras, two Luhya sub-tribes that neighbour the Bukusu.

Other techniques executed by the Litungu player are encapsulated in Wanyama’s statement as follows, Sometimes, the [L]itungu player … creates variation by singing in a different rhythm from [sic] that of the instrument. He may also engage in a solo – response … between himself and the instrument by calling as the instrument responds and vice-versa. Depending on his experience and level of dexterity, he may also be manipulative in such a way that his left hand may play the melody while the right hand adds harmonic effects, or a counter-melody or other ornamental embellishments …

The player may also purposively [sic] initiate interest in his performance by varying singing with chants or normal conversation… Occasionally, most of the [L]itungu players are fond of metaphorically commenting on socio-cultural and political issues afflicting the immediate and wider society; hence aesthetically and artistically giving their audience food for thought (Wanyama 2007: 8-9). The other Bukusu traditional musical instruments include the Isiriri (a fiddle), Chinyimba (hand bells), Chimbengele (wooden sticks), Siiye (wooden box), Engoma (drum), Bichenje (leg jingles), Lulwika (horn) and the Litungu (a lyre).

The Litungu is primarily accompanied by the Isiriri, Siiye and improvised Engoma (see Plates 2, 3 and 4 respectively). The percussion instruments and the horn are added to the performance at the discretion of the performing groups and are not used in all songs. While the Engoma is considered an authentic Bukusu musical instrument, it has recently been replaced by an improvised one which is a plastic container whose function is also to carry and store water (see Plate 4). Each of the performing groups in the study did not use the original drum even though it exists.

The performing groups liked the sound produced by the plastic container, saying that it provides a good bass sound. The container is turned upside down with the base at the top on which a musician plays the required rhythm using some sticks. The rhythmic patterns traditionally performed on the Engoma are performed on this instrument. 16 During my fieldwork (4th- 7th February 2007, 2nd – 4th May 2007), I observed that it has become common to hear of “Bands” among members of the community who play Litungu music, for example the Bungoma Municipal Band, the Nabukambisi Jazz Band and the Namatete Band.

These groups have created neo-traditional idioms of Litungu performance, while other musicians like Jackson Kisika retain the traditional idiom and instrumental ensemble. Plate 2. The Isiriri. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 6th February 2007. Used with permission by Jackson Kisika Plate 3. Siiye. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 6th February 2007. Used with permission by Jackson Kisika 17 Plate 4. The improvised drum played by Wekesa Kusienya. Photograph taken by Nancy Masasabi, on 12th May 2010. Used with permission by Kusienya 18

The Bukusu main cultural dance is Kamabeka, the execution of which involves shaking of the shoulders. The Kamabeka dance accompanies Litungu music. Different terminologies are used to explain the actual movement of shoulder shaking, for instance “‘khunikinia kamabeka’ which means to make shoulders tremble or to vigorously shake them, ‘Khukhupa kamabeka’ means to flap shoulders backwards and forwards or upwards and downwards, [whereas] ‘khutiembukha’ means to sway the upper part of the body, above the abdomen, up and down in response to the [L]itungu music” (Wanyama 2007: 11). For examples of these dance movements, see video clips one, two and three on VCD). During my fieldwork, I came across two performing groups whose performance included this dance namely, the Namatete Band and the Sinani Group Band. These two groups have special members whose role is to dance. The other groups do not have an organised dance troupe but normally encourage members of the audience to dance during their performances. As this takes place music acts as a socializing agent for members of the community, allowing for interactions of members of the same or different age group depending on the contexts of musical performance.

In conclusion, we have seen the cultural background in which Litungu music and thus silaosikeleko is performed. The construction, tuning and performance techniques of the Litungu have been discussed and the Litungu accompanying instruments identified. Alongside Litungu musical instruments, we have also seen the impact of modernity on the Litungu musical instruments. This is particularly in the increase of the number of strings from seven to twelve as well as in the inclusion of the improvised drum. The instrumental ensemble has been appropriated as the performers are exposed to different musics through mass media.

Therefore it is important to attend to some of the factors that have enhanced continuity and sustainability of silao-sikeleko in Litungu music 1. 2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM In the latter decades of the twentieth century, new contexts and themes have emerged within which music is performed such as the performance of gospel music, and commentary on AIDS and the political situation in Kenya. Together with the new contexts are the traditional contexts that have been affected by the changes in society. For example, some marriage ceremonies are 9 nowadays conducted in the church in which Litungu music is performed. With the changing socio-cultural contexts, the performance of silao-sikeleko is likely to be affected. There are some cultural principles that govern the performance of silao-sikeleko that can be used within these contexts. Such principles have not yet received scholarly attention within the Bukusu culture. Since Litungu music is a chief communicative agent among the Bukusu, and since silao-sikeleko is an integral part of this music practice, he study of silao-sikeleko gives an insight into the Bukusu musical worldview. Moreover, it is important to analyze the cultural meaning of silaosikeleko that can easily be eroded as a result of socio-cultural, economic and political changes affecting the Bukusu community and the performance of Litungu music. The analysis of silaosikeleko can give insight into its origin, meaning, function, occurrence and performance practice. It therefore becomes necessary to address silao-sikeleko as an element of musical composition.

Hence, the study sets forth to examine the cultural and structural roles of silao-sikeleko in the performance compositional process of Litungu music. 1. 3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES In order to study the cultural and compositional role of silao-sikeleko in Bukusu Litungu music, I identified four research objectives for this study which are; 1. To identify manifestations of silao-sikeleko in Bukusu Litungu music; 2. To articulate the thematic relationship between silao-sikeleko and other segments of the music such as sung text and the instrumental accompaniment. . To identify the structure and socio-cultural context of silao-sikeleko. 4. To assess and determine the process and bas

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