Note: Bahima childhood: women carry very young children; when ambulatory, the children are left with a surrogate. Weaned quite late, at 2 or 3. Discipline not harsh. Children are well behaved. Group of five to twelve small children will sit quietly. Bahima people are very independent, especially with strangers. If a peasant is unhappy, he will pick up and move, with or without cattle. There is a division of labor between those who go out with the herd and those who stay and clean the kraal. People from different kraals may graze herds together. Nominally the herd belongs to the head of the kraal. If there are two herds then decisions must be made jointly by owners. A widow was awarded ownership of herd in dispute with brother-in-law. If young couple starting out has no cattle, elders may contribute to the bride price. There may be 10 huts in a kraal. Husband’s “brothers” (clan members) may have rights to bride. He may confer a right to sleep with wife of others. Husband not supposed to demonstrate jealousy. If she takes initiative, however, he is jealous. Women’s work not arduous. In former days the king’s sister was very powerful. The King had a vast herd and could distribute and redistribute it at will. Bahima women had a reputation for beauty among Arab slave traders and were desired as wives. Skill at poetry was expected in young people, not in older people. Work group (cattle herding) was two men. There was no coordinated, cooperative work. Kraal construction involved serial rather than cooperative labor. No tribal discussion (not true in past under kingship). Minimal technology. Spears, beer-making, butchering done by others. No hubbub. Everyone quiet. Singing: Men very tense with rasp. Women have relaxed, low voices. They get things their way. There is a sense of dependence on the cattle, along with constant anxiety about the health of the cattle and disease — the tse-tse fly (introduced 60 years ago). There is also a sense of deprivation, as people wait to get more cattle. Eternal postponement is linked to long tunes. There is an area of tension around authority figures. More powerful man can always take away your cattle. The British introduced predictable actions by authority, but there is still instability and ambivalence; little or no redress of wrongs can be expected. The ideal man is supposed to be brave, intelligent, and eloquent. Bahima have flexible schedules and may stay up all night but are tied to daily routine of cattle. They use very little gesture and don’t dance. Hand to mouth gesture indicates an oral focus: lots of words, occasional outbursts of violent emotions (they are usually restrained), smoking and drinking (to point of alcoholism). They drink through a straw. Children value permission to be around adults, are quiet. Child conforms to the image of restrained adults. Dogs are roughly ejected from room. Bahima see themselves as intermediary between whites and Bantus. Have adopted some European prejudices.
About the session: Elizabeth Hopkins, Terrence Hopkins, and Alan Lomax discuss the Bahima of Uganda
The rights to the audio, photographic, and video materials contained within the Lomax Digital Archive are administered by various publishers, record labels, collectors, estates, and other rights holders. Any uses, commercial or not, must be cleared by the specific rights holders. For questions regarding the use of any material on the LDA, please contact Permissions.
Do you have something to add, or do you see an error in this record? We'd love to
hear from you.