Blood, Milk, and Death: Body Symbols and the Power of Regeneration among the Zaramo of Tanzania

Blood, Milk, and Death: Body Symbols and the Power of Regeneration among the Zaramo of Tanzania

Blood, Milk, and Death: Body Symbols and the Power of Regeneration among the Zaramo of Tanzania

Blood, Milk, and Death: Body Symbols and the Power of Regeneration among the Zaramo of Tanzania

Synopsis

Beginning with the myth of origin that joins every young Zaramo woman to her origins as she is initiated into the secrets of life and womanhood, the book then provides us with an historical account of the Tanzanian coast around Dar es Salaam as a background to the persistence of the cultural institutions to which the reader is introduced. Statements and narrations by Salome as a representative of the modern educated Zaramo people intersperse the author's descriptions of the rituals of womanhood, of individual and social healing, and of the ways conflict is symbolically manipulated and managed. Rituals are seen in their vibrant role, not as remnants of tradition, but as means of handling encroaching external pressures on the community. These pressures include, commercialization of livelihood, development thrust in the form of villagization, or the ongoing process of losing land rights. The book shows that a people will counteract the threat of social disintegration by overemphasizing their core values in an attempt to create strong communication forces and instruments of power. A good introduction to contemporary African issues, Third World women's studies, and ethnographic anthropology.

Excerpt

This book was compiled and edited by Zenya Wild from my collected writings, and from the work of other members of my family, my husband Lloyd W. Swantz and my daughter Aili Mari Tripp, as well as daughters Eva and Lea with whom I have had the joy to share life and research among the Zaramo. My mentor and friend, Bengt Sundkler, has also been a constant source of inspiration.

I owe a tremendous debt to Zenya for the insightful way with which she has immersed herself in the Zaramo cultural life. I thank warmly Frédérique Marglin who suggested the writing of this book in this form and had the wisdom to suggest Zenya for the task. in parts, the book follows closely the original texts in earlier books and articles, listed in the Bibliography; in other parts the form and even the content are new. in all the parts, the language has been transformed to a more readable style in the interest of the reader for whom the usual anthropological jargon might be an obstacle. I hope that this story of the Zaramo culture will provide inspiring reading, particularly for undergraduates and for non-Africans who live and work in Africa. It gives a few glimpses into the enormous cultural wealth of the creative, warm, and welcoming people of the suffering yet joyful continent and specifically of the country of Tanzania.

I dedicate this book to the memory of my deceased friends in Bunju, my village father Salum Mhunzi, my dear friends Mwawila Binti Shomvi, Mzee Ndamba, Abdurahamani Fundi and Binti Fundi. I hereby express also my deep gratitude to Emma and Samson Mwakalasya without whom I never would have come to live in Bunju.

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