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date: 15 October 2019

Nswezi [eŋoma dh’enswezi]locked

  • Peter Hoesing

Extract

[eŋoma dh’enswezi]

Term referring to drums associated with nswezi rituals among the Soga people of southeastern Uganda. These rituals feature a type of spirit possession called kusamira or kubandwa in which participants use music to facilitate and maintain connections with ancestral spirits. So central is this activity to possession ritual that the Lusoga verb for performing such a function is okukubira enswezi, literally ‘to beat the nswezi.’ Nswezi practitioners (baswezi) use these drums, along with gourd idiophones (ennengo) and buzzing aerophones (bugwala), to accompany ritual songs.

Nswezi drums, like the ubiquitous Uganda drum, have hide bottom heads, thinner skin batter heads, and twisted hide tension cords that bind the heads tightly over open-ended cylindrical-conical shells. Tuning is effected by adjusting the cords. A nswezi drum differs from a typical Uganda drum in that the lower, conoidal portion of the shell is concave rather than convex. As a result, these drums sound different from drums of neighbouring areas (e.g., Buganda)....

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