A Yoruba song from Nigeria, chanted in praise of adornment and flamboyant clothes. The fashions of humans are compared with the bright, rich colours of various birds of the forest.

Three birds in all
There are, in the forest bounds,
Which excel in smartness in the community of birds.
Very smart among the birds is the Blue Touraco –
A bird which although it’s not a human being,
Wears a garment dyed in indigo.
Very smart among the birds is the Aluko fowl –
A bird which, although it’s not a human being,
Wears a dress adorned with camwood paint.
And very smart among the birds is the Guinea Fowl –
A bird which, although it’s not a human being,
Wears a robe that has been sewn and dyed entirely in adire style. (1)
La-la-la-ku-bee-ru!
La-la-la-ku-bee-ru!
Were I a Moslem man, I would excel in reciting prayers! (2)
La-la-la-ku-bee-ru!

from The Content and Form of Yoruba ljala
by S.A. Babalola, OUP (1966)


Footnotes

  1. Adire style is a particular way of dyeing cloth.
  2. Were I a Moslem man: the poet compliments himself on a skill with language which matches the brilliance of the different birds adornment.