The inzogera is classified as an idiophone and, like the amayugi, is a kind of closed bell. Throughout its long history this group of bells has had various different functions: to protect against spirits, to herd livestock together, to keep robbers at bay, to rout game and to provide a rhythmic dance beat. Specifically the inzogera can be described as a spherical bell with a narrow slit (5-15 mm) on the underside. A pebble or a small metal ball (umurebe) is placed inside, large enough not to pass through the slit. The inzogera is between 6 and 8 cm big and has two small holes at the top through which a rope is threaded so that the bell can be tied to a leather strap (umukoba).
Nowadays the inzogera is used during a hunt and as part of the Ryangombe cult. A bell is tied to the hounds and the noise of the inzogera tells the hunter where his dog is and also serves to raise the game. There are also several reported cases of livestock, both goats and cattle, wearing this kind of bell.
Another use occurs in the magical world of the imandwa, which is a cult of the Cwezi centred on a number of spirits, the most important of which is Ryangombe. During his lifetime Ryangombe was a viceroy during the reign of Ruganzu II Ndori. A passionate hunter, he was gored to death by a buffalo during a hunt. Within this cult the inzogera is held in the left hand and the ikinyege in the right hand. Together they form the rhythmic basis of the songs that are part of the imandwa rituals. The inzogera can also be used in rituals in a non-musical context: for instance, the ‘opening’ of an inzogera is one of the first acts in the initiation to the imandwa.
For more information consult the following publications edited by the RMCA:
© KMMA/Jos GANSEMANS