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How to begin?

How to begin to describe Sukur culture, and how to differentiate it from Sukur society, language, and other of our heading categories? Our headings are for convenience, but it would seem that we might well start by discussing the Sukur calendar, the temporal framework within which Sukur live their lives.

The Sukur calendar

Moon (Tiya) Approx. month Major Community Ceremonies Iron smelting (in the past) & House building Agricultural Round
1. Tiya zung April   iron smelting begin clearing fields
2. T. bak May     plant if enough rain
3. T. maakėn June     plant, start first weeding
4. T. fwa'd June/July   women collect ore 1st weeding continues
5. T. dlam July/Aug. Initiation - 'Ber (26-30/8/92) (even years) women collect ore 2nd weeding, 1st maize harvest
6. T. mukwa Aug./Sept. Purification - Zoku (annual) (23/09/92) women collect ore 2nd weeding, 1st maize harvest
7. T. ma'daf Sept./Oct.   women collect ore weed bean fields, clear land for next year, harvest early sorghum
8. T. tėkuz Oct./Nov.   women collect ore, cut thatching grass harvest beans, groundnuts
9. T. mitli Nov./Dec. Yama pė Patla 28/11/92 (annual)   start main sorghum harvest
10. T. uwang Dec./Jan.     harvest continues
11. Te Yawal Jan./Feb. Chief's festival - Yawal (20-23/2/93) (held irregularly) men fell trees, build houses, make mats threshing
12. Te Hėndlė Feb./Mar. Bull festival - Hėndlė (even years) men cut up & pile trees, build houses, make mats; women gather firewood threshing
13. Te zava da Fa Mar./Apr. Zava da Fa (in odd years)marriages finalized men burn and family transports charcoal  

The Sukur calendar runs by the moon - months start when the new moon is first visible - and has 13 months. This might seem to pose problems as a mean lunar month is 29.53059 days and thirteen months total 383.8977 days as against the 365.25 day solar year. However, the changing seasons are more important to the Sukur and most other African peoples than astronomical calculations. So they adjust the calendar according to the seasons, and particularly according to the coming of the rains. Thus, if the rains are early, the 13th month may be cancelled, or if late, the first month can be repeated. Ceremonies are tied to the months and to the phases of the moon. For example, however many days are set aside for the final, celebratory, phase of 'Ber the male youths' initiation, the dances end on the first day of the 6th month (days being calculated from dusk to dusk) when the new moon becomes visible.

We don't know what happens to Zava da Fa if the 13th month is omitted, but are sure this poses no problem to the Sukur! Similarly, our indications of the agricultural and (formerly) iron-making taking place each month is impressionistic, depending not only on climatic conditions but upon a variety of other factors: health, size of family and the need to schedule other activities, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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