By Pat Caplan
African Voices, African Lives explores the realm of 'Mohammed', a swahili peasant residing on Mafia Island, Tanzania. via his personal phrases - a few written, a few spoken - and people of his relations, together with his ex-wife and certainly one of his daughters, he allows us to determine the area via his eyes, together with the invisisble global of spirits which performs an important function in his existence. this data is amassed via Pat Caplan, the anthropologist, over virtually 3 many years of speaking and writing to one another. She acts not just as translator and editor, but in addition as interpreter, bringing in her personal wisdom accumulated from box info in addition to comparative fabric from different anthropological work.
by means of utilizing a mix of types - narrative and existence background, ethnographic statement, and the diary stored via Mohammed on the anthropologist's bequest, African Voices African Lives will make an immense contribution to present debates in anthropology by means of grappling with concerns raised by way of 'personal narratives', authorial authority, and with refexivity.
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Extra info for African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village
M. To do what her husband tells her. Those jobs should be done by women, otherwise it’s wrong (kosa). P. So are you saying that women do not have any rights? M. Do you mean in regard to work? P. No, I mean doesn’t the law say that clothes, food and so on is the responsibility of the husband? So suppose he doesn’t do that? What can the woman do? M. ’ Her husband may reply: ‘She didn’t fetch water for me today, she didn’t cook for me today, she didn’t give me drinking water, she didn’t put water in the bathroom for me to bath, she didn’t make the bed for me to sleep on.
There was one year we got seven and a half bags [of rice] in the bush field (konde) and two and a half bags of sesame (ufuta), and we also got millet, I can’t remember exactly how much. And in the meadow field (dawe)15 we also got rice, another two sacks. The total was nine and a half bags of rice. At that time, we were also bringing up the child of my deceased younger brother16 so I started thinking about what work I could do to earn some cash. I started cutting raffia palm fronds (ukindu) and bringing them to the house.
Mohammed and his family appear frequently in all of this data—as informants, as actors, and in some cases as commentators. Second, there are recordings of various rituals, particularly those connected with spirit possession, which Mohammed, among others, helped me to transcribe and understand. Third, for most of that first period of field-work, I too kept a daily diary, and in this Mohammed, Mwahadia and their children appear quite often, particularly as our relationship became closer. In addition, Mohammed’s own diary is scattered throughout my notebooks.
African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village by Pat Caplan