Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Men's labor is intensive, but tends to come in spurts, so men often have spare time to sit with other (usually male) family members and chat and drink palm wine or other locally brewed alcoholic beverages. Women's work is more continuous, but is often done collectively with many breaks for rest and play. Social visits are very common, and relatives, friends, and neighbors—usually in same-sex groups—often sit and chat together during the heat of the noon hour or the coolness of the evening.

Dances are a very popular form of entertainment and are held on every available occasion, including funerals (especially of older folks), age-set parties, weddings, and household feasts. Men and women have different kinds of dancing. Women dance to the untina, or water drum, a half-gourd inverted on a basin of water and struck with the hands to play syncopated rhythms. Their dance is executed mainly with the feet, taking small but rhythmically intricate steps, while the upper body remains relatively stable. A semicircle of women clap in rhythm with the drum, while a woman from the group dances solo. Toward the end of her dance, others may join her, and after the final steps, the woman who has danced is embraced by her friends. When the drum begins again, another woman steps up to dance. The dancing is accompanied by improvised songs.

At funerals, men dance to a wooden gong drum and a leather drum, both played by men. They carry long thin sticks, which may represent spears to confront the spirits responsible for the death. The dance involves the whole body, with a sort of hopping as well as gesturing and idiosyncratic movements. There is also a slower collective ritual dance that women perform at funerals to the rhythm of the men's drums.

Older women also get together to dance to the rhythm of the bell (utapi), either at weddings or among small groups of friends.

All ceremonies—including, or even especially, funerals—involve feasting and dances, and are seen as occasions for socializing and merrymaking. Usually, however, the two sexes congregate on opposite sides of the compound.

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