A song of the Luo people, from Kenya. This is a courtship poem, sung by young women as they approach where their lovers are staying. It is sung in a curiously artificial style, intended to show off the girls’ voices. The doree ree yo is a passage of very high-pitched vocal acrobatics, compared by the singer to birdsong.

I am possessed,
A bird bursting on high with the ree lament:
I am the untiring singer.
Dear bird, let’s sing in rivalry
Our doree ree yo.
It is my wayward self
Singing in rivalry
The doree ree yo.
I am the untiring singer
That rocks far off Mombasa
With the aree ree yo:
It is the voice crying the doree.
That rocks far-off Nakuru.
I am the compelling ondoro drum,
The bird bursting with the doree’s plaintive tones:
I am the untiring singer
Choking herself with the doree ree yo.

from ‘Luo Songs’
Black Orpheus 10, (1962)
trans. H. Owuor