OJ Murugut – Aree, our beloved brother

Saturday, July 12th, 2014
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This song belongs to the genre of Larakaraka, a courtship dance in which the calabash is used. This dance is performed in order to find a girl- or boyfriend for eventual marriage. Young men play the rhythm, by holding the half gourd and striking it while dancing. The best dancer hopes to be picked by the most beautiful girl, who will dance towards him, takes his calabash and then moves away. The boy will follow her to sit down somewhere quiet and talk about love. This is the beginning of their engagement.

OJ Murugut: “Our brother Aree was a young man in his twenties and the eldest in a family with ten brothers and two sisters. Our family was bankrupt, so there was no money for Aree and his brothers to get married. Some people in our village ‘Akobi Kenya’ (later called Bardyang) had money and were able to get married, but we had nothing. Aree decided to look for money outside the village. Days and weeks went by, but Aree never returned; the people in the village waited in vain for Aree to come back. They waited for three months until people started thinking that he must have died of hunger, thirst or that he might have been killed by warriors or wild animals. Although no one saw Aree’s assumed dead body, the people in the village gathered, performed the last funeral rites and played this song; where could our beloved brother be?”

This duo consists of OJ Murugut on orak (calabash) and lead vocals, and Olweny Maurice Abitingson on orak, vocals and nanga (also called ‘trough zither’, because it resembles a water bowl for cattle). Acholi artists traditionally wear feathers on their head -called ‘kono’- while singing and dancing, drawing attention to their movements.


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