By Pat Caplan
African Voices, African Lives explores the realm of 'Mohammed', a swahili peasant dwelling 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 considered one of his daughters, he allows us to determine the area via his eyes, together with the invisisble international of spirits which performs an important function in his existence. this data is amassed through Pat Caplan, the anthropologist, over nearly 3 many years of conversing and writing to one another. She acts not just as translator and editor, but in addition as interpreter, bringing in her personal wisdom collected from box facts in addition to comparative fabric from different anthropological work.
through employing a mix of kinds - narrative and existence background, ethnographic remark, and the diary saved via Mohammed on the anthropologist's bequest, African Voices African Lives will make an enormous contribution to present debates in anthropology by way of grappling with matters raised by means of 'personal narratives', authorial authority, and with refexivity.
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Additional resources for African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village
Part I A life history Introduction This first part of the book consists of Mohammed’s life history as he gave it to me on tape in 1994. As already mentioned, he had previously been unwilling to be taped, but this time he agreed, only stipulating that we should leave the village to work in greater privacy. Mohammed tells his story in more or less chronological order. He first talks about his early life, including his Koran school education and his circumcision. He then moves on to describe how he got married in spite of parental opposition, and how he and his wife made a living.
On my father’s side, they were four siblings, two males and two females. P. Do you remember your grandparents? M. Yes, I knew them. My mother’s mother also had swollen legs, she walked like this [demonstrates], that is my maternal grandmother. She was called Mwasiti. My father’s mother was called Mwahamisa. Figure 1 Mohammed’s genealogy 28 A life hisory P. And were all these people from Minazini? M. Yes, except that my grandmother on my father’s side, after being divorced, did not marry again but lived with her daughter Mwatika in a neighbouring village.
Did they tell you beforehand, or were you taken by surprise? M. At the wedding of my twin sister they cooked porridge, buns (mandazi), rice cakes (vitumbua) and, I think, beans. , they slaughtered the cow and cooked rice. And that feast was a joint feast [for the wedding] together with the circumcision ritual. P. And were you done [circumcised] on your own? M. There was another one, the son of my brother, but both of us were big, I bigger than him. P. Do you have any idea how old you were? M. Perhaps 15, or maybe 12.
African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village by Pat Caplan