Thursday, November 22, 2012

Malayo-Polynesian word correspondences

Comparing Different and Related Words of Malayo-Polynesian Languages

Through writing this text I am to explore relationships between related words ( cognates) of Malayo-Polynesian (M-P) languages such as Malagasy, Malay/Indonesian(Ind.) and Maori.

God in M-P Languages

Maori - Atua
Malagasy - Zanahary
Malay/Ind. - Tuan (lord, earthly), Tuhan (divine lord)

According to Blust's Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (2012), the origin of these two words is qatuan. The Malagasy word used is not stated and I cannot truly say whether it is related or not. Whereas, hamba and andria (Andriamanitra - God - Malagasy) are related, both meaning slave.

Child or Children in M-P Languages

Malagasy - Zanaka/Anaka.
Malay/Ind.- Anak
Maori - Tamaiti
Notice how the Maori word, stands out from the others? Tamaiti has a different root, the only root I could find in Blust's (2012) actually led me to *t-amai which relates to the words for father.

I  in M-P Languages

Malagasy - Aho
          Indonesian  -  Aku/Saya
    Maori    -    Au
Note: All these languages share a common root, Aku is a loan word (borrowed) from Javanese (the language used on most of Java), Saya is the Malay word coming from sahaya meaning slave (Babylon).


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Teachers and the Beloved Dead of Afro-Brazilian Music

After completing a Capoeira Angola session today I had an a-ha moment, connecting the various Afro-Brazilian music traditions in their love for their dead teachers. We spoke of honouring our mestres (teachers), louvação in Portuguese. Not just our mestres, but Deus (God), Nossa Senhora (Mother Mary), etc.
Most African traditional religions value the place of their ancestors in their descendents lives, this was a heritage that was brought to Brazil by slaves from both Sub-Saharan Africa (Angolan, Congolese) and West Africa (Nigerian, Beninese, Togolese)

Here's one example of a tradition where this is relevant: Jongo.
Jongo is a musical tradition based in South-Eastern Brazil (also known as Caxambu).
Jongo is related to a tradition called Jinongonongo brought to Brazil by Angolan slaves being a guessing game, involving some symbols with mystical or paranormal effects.
In Jongo they pay respect to the previous leaders, jongueiros/jongueiras(if female) and souls of the old black slaves also known as the almas santas or holy souls.
Here is a video incorporating Jongo music by the Brazilian group Jongo da Serrinha and respect to a founder and teacher Dona Maria do Jongo.

Another example is Congado.
Congado is a musical tradition of Afro-Catholic heritage involving the traditions of Sub-Saharan slaves (Bantu) in Brazil which adapted to their lives as Catholics (although it was not completely accepted by the church in Brazil and is performed in the streets through processions).
Congado involves leaders known as capitães (captains) who are in the major processions (e.g. Moçambique which is named after the slaves from Mozambique). Capitães and other leaders are revered by the members of the Congado procession as well as Catholic figures like Saint Benedict (São Benedito). For instance, in Rio dos Mortes, as the procession passes the cemetery, respect is shown to the congadeiros who passed on, to those who gave them (their descendents the tradition) (Pereira 2011).
Here's a video of a Congado procession dedicated to Saint Benedict:

 Sources used:
Pereira, A 2011, Um estudo etnomusicológico do congado de Nossa Senhora do Rosário do Distrito do Rio das Mortes, São João del-Rei, MG. URL:

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I don't need them to be completed
but I am only incomplete,
it's as if the pieces of the puzzle
which I need to find inside me
are already placed in someone else.
To be completed I need to find out what I lost:
what was lost during that ill-fated period,
that sense of self and the pieces that I had not yet found.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Contacting The World Festival

check it out. It's an English festival incorporating theatre companies from different parts of the world using 'crowd-funding' to support their actors and festival planning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Being mixed, créolité/creolitude, mestizaje

I come from a cultural background (through my parents) which is based on the mixture of the various peoples which inhabited the island of Mauritius (Creoles). It's not easy to define and it's not straightforward. Our heritage includes Afro-Malagasy slaves who lost most of their traditions due to discrimination that they experienced. It includes the European settlers who came and formed the most influential culture during the period of colonialism.

It is very hard to define where Creoles stand and should stand on culture, if my grandmother's Chinese my experiences would be different from a Creole who had an Indian grandfather. Each individual can take their own stand on their heritage.

There are two main foci or cultural focal points though: the African and the European which have been the most influential in defining the identity Creole culture today. The African slaves who were born in Mauritius were known as Creoles as were considered their Mauritian-born European counterparts (though Euro-Mauritians would not be called Creoles today).

The main thing I have realised from reading about similar cultures and backgrounds in the Caribbean and Latin America is that, it is not just enough to say the we are a blend of this and that. But to realise that some cultures suffered in the process, while others prospered (Africans and Native Americans versus Europeans) and that reinforced the development of our identities.

That is not to say that our European heritage is not valuable and should be rejected but we should try and honour the different parts of our heritage as something specific, tangible like the Caribbean writer Edouard Glissant says when seeing Creolitude/créolité as something which incorporates our different heritages like a rhizome (taken from contemporary European philosophers called Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari).

A rhizome is for an example the roots of grass which spread out starting new plants without a specific root starting a single tree but a connection of nodes from which we have different plants starting out.

Thus for Creoles around the world and similar cultures of mixed heritage - mixed people in Latin America (mainly of African, Native American and European heritages), each of our heritages can be seen on an equal level and be learned about to help reinforce and better define our identity today.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Colombian folklore (legends): Patasola

Colombian folklore involves stories which relate to the cultural influences that have helped to create Colombian society: European (Spanish), Indigenous and African.

The first one I will look at is called Patasola, Patasola is a one footed female monster who lives in the jungle. Patasola actually comes from the Spanish words for one foot (sola and pata)
Here is an example of her taken by Edgar Feria:
Patsola was originally a human being who was killed by her husband for being unfaithful during which time he hacked off her leg.
Patasola is like a similar Colombian legend (Madremonte), they both serve as guardians of the environment. She lures lone male farmers, being attractive and takes them when they are in the forest too suck their blood and devour them.

For more info. :