This essay introduces the issue of joking relationships and describes the role played by such relationships as observed in two ethnographic fields in Somalia and Tanzania. Between the 1930s and 1980s, joking relationships were the subject of animated discussions among Francophone and Anglophone Africanist anthropologists. Later the theoretical debate seems somehow to have become obsolete while UNESCO has been involved in recognizing the cultural value of such relations. The opportunity to take video shots of a funerary event in Tanzania in which the utani relatives of the dead played a central role during an entire morning of funerary celebrations provides the stimulus to reflect again on this institution in East Africa through video images and to highlight the role that joking relationships have played in integrating foreigners and in highlighting moral standards within a community.
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