Women's song in Nassa
Twice a year across the North of Mozambique the air is filled with the songs sung before during and after the Initiation of boys and girls who spend a month kept away from the community as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. The songs, images and videos shared in these pages come from an initial research trip to Niassa, Mozambique where I followed a small woman with a huge spirit who's role in her community is to initiate girs into adulthood in month long residential schools known as the Unhago. Women with her job are kown as Anakanga's in the local language or Matrona's in Portuguese. There is no English equivalent so I will use the Yao word; Anakanga. This Anakanga's name is Achaibo. She worked with a group of women and travelled the region, guiding and spiritually protecting girls as they are hosted in compounds by different families in and around the provincial capial of Lichinga. The groups of girls vary in numbers from 40 girls in the largest group to 7 in the smallest. The nights the girls enter and the night they leave are all night affairs, the first involving just the girls, their mothers and their 'madrinhas' or 'godmothers, the last involving the entire community. During the rest of the month, the madrinas stay with the girls leaching them lessons in the life of a woman - many taught through songs. Other women from the community also visit from time to time with their knowledge and experience. The most important visits are those made by the Anakanga herself and her helpers who conduct a number of ritualised lessons over the month designed to help the girls remember the lessons passed on from generation to generation in this way. These songs continue to be sung throughout a womans life, with new ones added from time to time as they start married life, have their first child and as they come closer to death. I will be ading material on this page that were filmed during my research - either by me or my 'research assistants/collaborators/participants'.
Unhago in images
Images from the opening night of the girls Unhago.
Unhago Songs in the village
Songs sung by the villagers on the first night of the girls Unhago as they leave their homes
Songs from the opening night of the girls Unhago
Songs used to teach lessons during the month of the girls initiation