A Chopi song from southern Mozambique. This song is taken from one of the Chopi Migodo (sing. Ng’godo). These are long entertainments, each lasting for some forty-five minutes, played on orchestras of massed timbila, or xylophones. Each Ng’godo consists of between nine and eleven different sections, all composed by the leader of the orchestra and all connected to each other. Of these sections, some are purely orchestral pieces, some are dances with timbila accompaniment, and there are always two major songs, the Ndano, the Call of the Dancers, and the Mzeno, the Great Song.

This song is the Ndano from the 1940 Ng’godo of the famous orchestra leader Gomukomu, who was attached to the court of Paramount Chief Filippe we Madumane Banguza.

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives and hear the call.

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives and hear the call.

To play the timbila you must dream about it
so that we of Mangeni will excel in it: (1)
To play the timbila you must dream about it
so that we of Mangeni will excel in it.

This wonder of mine, my young brother Nguyusa,
This wonder – to take my money to buy the right of way! (2)

This wonder of mine, my young brother Nguyusa,
This wonder – to take my money to buy the right of way!

You girls, you adorn yourselves with marks to attract us:
You girls, you adorn yourselves with marks to attract us:

With these marks you attract us, on foreheads and temples:
With these marks you attract us, on foreheads and temples.

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives and hear the call.

from Oral Poetry from Africa (1984),
Compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White
Longman


Footnotes

  1. Mangeni is the village where Gomukomu lives.
  2. To buy the right of way satirises the notion that with the coming of motorised transport, travelling now has to be paid for.