African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Uganda (Page 1 of 2)

Buganda Songs

The Kingdom of the Ganda people is the largest of the traditional kingdoms making up Uganda, comprising all of Uganda’s central region, bordering Lake Victoria, and including the capital Kampala. The ruling dynasty dates from the 14C. Abolished in 1966 after Uganda’s independence, it was officially restored in 1993 and now enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy. These songs date from well over a century ago. They were transcribed long before the days of portable recorders, which may explain their brevity.

Nanayanja,
beat the drum, let it speak out…

In Praise of Sorghum

A Rukiga farmers’ song in praise of sorghum, one of their staple crops, from the Bakiga “people of the mountains”, who straddle the border between northern Ruanda and southern Uganda. Sorghum is a drought-resistant and heat-tolerant grain, used for food, animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and more recently, biofuels.

Sorghum, sorghum, O sorghum,
sorghum and Kiga are one…

The Horn of My Love

An Acoli girl’s love song from northern Uganda, collected and translated by the famous Ugandan poet Okot p’Bitek, author of Song of Lawino. It would be sung during the ortak or courtship dance.

Where has my love blown his horn?
The tune of his horn is well known…

Hunters Prayer (Acoli)

An Acoli prayer from Uganda, the hunter is praying that his spear will be adequate for the hunt.

The spear with the hard point,
Let it split the granite rock…

His eyes died long ago

An Acoli poem from Uganda.

His eyes died long ago,
You can see clouds in them…

The Homestead of Death’s Mother

An Acoli death-defying dirge from Uganda, sung by relatives of the deceased as they arrive for the Guru Lyel ceremony. See also the poems Close to Her Husband and If Death were not there

In Praise of Seven Women

A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem, recorded in 1955 in Ankole, composed and recited by Kempumbya, wife of Ntumu. (See also The Bahima Women Praise Their Cattle and Bahima Women’s Praises.) The Bahima people are the cattle-herders among the Bayankole people of southwest Uganda. In these praises, originally in the Runyankole language, seven different women are described. The chorus (My companions etc.) is repeated after each praise.

She does not sit just as if she were placed there;
She does not shame her husband’s kraal…

Bahima Women’s Praises

A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem, recorded in 1955 in Ankole, and recited by Rhoda Kenyonyosi, who described it as by an unknown composer and dating from 1950. (See also The Bahima Women Praise Their Cattle).

The Bahima people are the cattle herders among the Bayankole people of southwest Uganda. In these praises, originally in the Runyankole language, the subject is the beauty of the women of the Baronda age set, and especially that of Veronika. The chorus (Stand up, so that before we say goodbye etc.) is repeated after each praise.

You Baronda,
wake up the ugly women…

The Bahima Women praise their Cattle

A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem, recorded in 1955 in Ankole, and composed and recited by Ntamaare. The Bahima people are the cattle-herders among the Bayankole people of southwest Uganda. In these praises, originally in the Runyankole language, the subject is the cattle for which they are famous. Each of the different cows belonging to the herd is admired for its unique characteristics, especially their hide and their horns. The chorus (When they stampede etc.) is repeated after each praise.

They are as greedy as Ishe-Katabazi:
I want them to graze in the newly burnt grass of Rwanda…

Coward, Crawl Back

An Acoli poem from Uganda.

Coward, crawl back into your mother’s womb!
We are sons of the brave

Page 1 of 2

African Poems