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Indian Ocean shanties

MartinRyan 12 Aug 09 - 07:02 AM
Sailor Ron 12 Aug 09 - 08:07 AM
Dead Horse 12 Aug 09 - 08:35 AM
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Subject: Indian Ocean shanties
From: MartinRyan
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 07:02 AM

A recent (wonderful) holiday in Kenya provided two nice examples of present day shanty-type singing. We were staying in a small ecolodge located beside the Indian Ocean, near Mombasa. The neighbouring Digo village depended largely on fishing - inside the coral reef and to some extent, beyond it. The fishermen used a variety of techniques - longlines, nets of various types and a primitive spear-gun. Boats were either very simple canoes or outriggers. Basically, they sailed them downwind and poled them upwind!

One day, I watched a group of six or seven fishermen hauling in a long net on the shore, using a simple call & response shanty to keep time. Another time, I watched a lone fisherman pole his canoe upwind singing a song with a short, stressed phrase as he drove the pole into the ground and leaned into it before stringing out another, lilting phrase as the boat shot forward and he trailed the pole to keep a straight course.

The language, incidentally, was the local Digo rather than either English or KiSwahili, as far as I know.


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Subject: RE: Indian Ocean shanties
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 08:07 AM

In Micghael Palin's "Round the world in 80 days" T.V. series, he sails from the Persian Gulf to India by Dhow. As they entered the Indian Ocean they cut the engine & hoisted the sails, using a shanty, which could have been in Hindi, seaman's Hindustani or Gutcharati. I recognised a few words[my Hindustani, which I used to speak slighty 30 odd years ago has mostly gone]. I believe the series is out on DVD .If anyone is interested in 'real' shanty singing perhaps they should get a copy.

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Subject: RE: Indian Ocean shanties
From: Dead Horse
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 08:35 AM

They had more than likely been watchin Moby Dick on Freeview, and decided ta do a local version of Blood Red Roses :-)

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