This song was recorded by Romanus N. Egudu (n.d.) in the Udi Division of Igboland, Nigeria. Professor Egudu comments “Each of these poems is meant to accompany a dance. Local musical instruments like ekwe, ogene and nkwa (all different kinds of drums), übo-aka (a string instrument) and öyö (bead instrument) are used. The drummers and other instrumentalists provide the dance rhythm, and sing at the same time. All the dancers sing as well, and the lead singer is at the same time often the chief dancer.”

The song is a pleasant game with words, but it can be taken in different ways. The boy has lost his pet rat. Everyone knows where the rat is. Is the problem that they daren’t approach the leopard’s house? Or is it implied that the leopard has eaten them all?

Nwata chögalü oke-ya.
Nda
Oke-ya tögbōlü n’ünö-be-agü.
Nda
Ünö-be-agü dichili
uzö be agü.
Nda

Nwanne chögalü
nwanne-ya.
Nda
Nwanne-ya chögalü oke-ya.
Nda
Oke-ya tögbōlü n’ünö-be-agü.
Nda
Ünö-be-agü dichili
uzö be agü.
Nda

Nne chögalü nwa-ya.
Nda
Nwa-ya chögalü nwanne-ya.
Nda
Nwanne-ya chögalü oke-ya.
Nda
Oke-ya tögbōlü n’ünö-be-agü.
Nda
Ünö-be-agü dichili
uzö be agü.
Nda

Nna chögalü nwunye-ya.
Nda
Nwunye-ya chögalü nwa-ya.
Nda
Nwa-ya chögalü nwanne-ya.
Nda
Nwanne-ya chögalü oke-ya.
Nda
Oke-ya tögbōlü n’ünö-be-agü.
Nda
Ünö-be-agü dichili
uzö be agü.
Nda

The boy was looking for his rat.
Nda
His rat was hiding in leopards’s house.
Nda
Leopards’s house was by the road
where the leopards live.
Nda

The brother was looking for his little brother.
Nda
His brother was looking for his rat.
Nda
His rat was hiding in leopard’s house.
Nda
Leopards’s house was by the road
where the leopards live.
Nda

The mother was looking for her son.
Nda
Her son was looking for his little brother.
Nda
His brother was looking for his rat.
Nda
His rat was hiding in leopard’s house.
Nda
Leopards’s house was by the road
where the leopards live.
Nda

The father was looking for his wife.
Nda
His wife was looking for her son.
Nda
Her son was looking for his little brother.
Nda
His brother was looking for his rat.
Nda
His rat was hiding in leopard’s house.
Nda
Leopards’s house was by the road
where the leopards live.
Nda

from “The Art of Igbo Dance Songs”
Romanus N. Egudu.
African Studies 29, 4 (1970)