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A Niam-niam minstrel

A Niam-niam minstrel.png The Old SholThumbnailsDredges at work in the Suez CanalThe Old SholThumbnailsDredges at work in the Suez Canal

A Niam-niam minstrel

As the darkness came on. our camp was enlivened by the appearance of the grotesque figure of a singer, who came with a huge bunch of feathers in his hat, and these, as he wagged his head to the time of his music, became all entangled with the braids of his hair. Altogether the head was like the head of Medusa. These "minne-singers" among the Niam-niam as known as "nzangah." They are as sparing of their voices as a worn-out prima donna; except for those close by, it is impossible to hear what they are singing. Their instrument is the local guitar, the thin jingling of which accords perfectly well with the nasal humming of the minstrel's recitative.

The occupation of these nzangah, however, notwithstanding the general love of the people for music, would not appear to be held in very high esteem, as the same designation is applied to those unfortunate women, friendless and fallen, who are never absent from any community.

The Heart of Africa Vol I
By Dr. Georg Schweinfurth
Published in 1874
Available from books.google.com