A Shona song from Zimbabwe, sung by a mother at a dance in praise of her daughter’s singing. What is especially admired is a voice higher and purer than all the others, like the new moons flute.
E! There’s my one, drowning all the others.
Listen, girls, and hear what she’s to sing!
Hear her as she yodels now!
E! There’s my own one whom I gave birth to, girls.
It’s mine who has taken up the song.
Listen to the sort of sprightly girl I bear.
If she’s not at the dance, it is a failure;
It catches on as long as she is there –
There she goes, she’s opened up the high, high notes,
Hearing, one would say it was the new moon’s flute.
Listen to the way she sings the words.
Keep on like that, Shava my child,
Keep on so, my dear little singer:
(If only the people here would give up their sorcery against me!)
He who marries you will have to pay extra for your voice.
from Shona Praise Poetry OUP, (1979)
ed. Aaron C. Hodza & George Fortune