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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Mwaozi Tumbe and the Rain-Making rites of Wasini Island: A text in the Chifundi dialect of Swahili
Author:Walsh, M.
Periodical:Études Océan Indien
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Wasini - island
Chifundi - ethnic group
Abstract:The Chifundi, by far the largest Shirazi group on the southern Kenya coast, were the last to submit to the Vumba, another Shirazi group, who extended their dominance over the whole area in the first half of the seventeenth century. The Chifundi text presented in this article, with a translation in English, describes how the Chifundi were betrayed to the Vumba by Mwaozi Tumbe, the daughter of their last independent ruler, Guo Kuu Mwatumbe; how the Vumba disposed of her in turn; and how this led to a ritual rapprochement between the two peoples. The story, narrated by Mwanamize Haruni, a 50-year old woman, in the Mkwiro sub-dialect of Chichifundi, was recorded in Mkwiro on Wasini Island. In contrast to two earlier published versions of the story, the present version functions primarily as a charter for ritual action and as a model for moral behaviour. The important role accorded to women in the rainmaking rites performed on Mwaozi Tumbe's grave shows the absence of Islamic restrictions upon the visibility of women. The active role of Chifundi women, who in Mkwiro perform the bulk of agricultural labour, precluded these restrictions. The abandonment of the rites in the late 1960s and the fundamentalist religious opposition to their continuation reflects the increasing conformity of the Chifundi of Mkwiro to the rest of the Swahili-speaking world. (Source: ASC Documentation).