Social Role of the Jali

Much of the historical literature examining the origin of Jali was written by explorers and travelers who were not afforded an intimate look into their role in society. Much of what these witnesses have to say is tainted with their own cultural biases.

Historically Jalolu enjoyed a freedom in their use of speech that was not afforded others in the society. The Jali was the only person who, at times, had the right to act uninhibitedly, even impudently in their use and display of their verbal art from. No one was immune from inclusion in the words and songs of praise. Equally, if the occasion called for it, Jalolu would also exercise vehement castration of a person’s character in public forum.

The reason for their freedom of expression might rest somewhere in the culture’s perception of their inherited ability to affect and influence the spirit, good or bad, by their use of the language. The relationship of fear and admiration of the Jali may have laid the groundwork for the freedom they enjoyed in exposing, lyrical song or prose, the virtuous or degenerative traits of others.

In their repertoire of word skills, the Jali is master of praises, genealogies, songs, poems, tales, proverbs, and epics. Traditionally, most of this verbal repertoire would have been inherited from parents, relatives and other Jalolu.

There are many social occasions which call for the talents of the Jali. Typically, naming ceremonies, or kulio, require the presence of a Jali to announce the name of the child. The Jali also performs at weddings, political inaugurations, gatherings, most social functions and, may even make an appearance in the time of a family’s grieving the death of a loved one.

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