Claude Boucher (Chisale) is a Catholic priest in the Society of
Missionaries of Africa, or the 'White Fathers,' and as a trained
anthropologist he has spent more than forty years living and workin...
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When Animals Sing and Spirits Dance
Gule Wamkulu: The Great Dance of the Chewa People of Malawi
When Animals Sing and Spirits Dance is an introduction to the
diversity and drama that is the gule wamkulu, the "great dance," of
the Chewa people of Malawi. Covering 200 characters bedecked in mask
and costume or woven structure, the book reveals not only the
physical variety of the characters but also analyzes their songs,
dances, and often codified messages that are delivered through word
and action. It is through the dancers of the gule wamkulu that the
ancestors communicate with the living and give instructions on how
to abide by the code of moral conduct, the mwambo. It is also
through the great dance that we can glean intimate insight into the
values and worldview of the Chewa.
with color photographs and original artwork, When Animals Sing
and Spirits Dance is a lively interpretation of the great dance,
told very much in the voice of the Chewa themselves. The songs are
interpreted in both Chichewa and English, with appropriate
recognition that direct representation is often
The gule wamkulu was declared a masterpiece
of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.
This book is a worthy entrée to the majesty, spectacle, and
spirituality that is the great dance.
Additional text by Gary J. Morgan, Director of
the Michigan State University Museum.
Photographs by Arjen van de Merwe
Illustrated with color
photographs and origianl art. Notes, references,
index8.5 x 11World rights, except
MalawiS; Distributed for the Kungoni
Centre of Culture and Art
303 pp., 8.50" x 11.00", August 2012