A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem, recorded in 1955 in Ankole, composed and recited by Kempumbya, wife of Ntumu. (See also The Bahima Women Praise Their Cattle and Bahima Women’s Praises.) The Bahima people are the cattle-herders among the Bayankole people of southwest Uganda. In these praises, originally in the Runyankole language, seven different women are described. The chorus (My companions etc.) is repeated after each praise.

She does not sit just as if she were placed there; (1)
She does not shame her husband’s kraal.
My companions who are fit to support me,
The gods of the country come here. (2)

They bought her a bracelet from Bwera;
Bugondo excelled them all.

They bought her a cloth of the sun design;
It has put her, Nkerengye, in the fashion.

The cow brought what they sent it for;
The branded cow brought Rushungye. (3)

She lifted up her well-shaped legs,
She gathered up her skirt as she went with the varied herd.

She is the Omugabe, she was enthroned at Buzooba; (4)
She is the crown, she crowned Gasyonga.

Beads of sweat sparkle on her face;
She is the waves on an expanse of water.
My companions who are fit to support me,
The gods of the country come here.

Here is the original in Runyankole:

Tashutamire óti bamuteeka áha
Tagayiisé bikoomi bya baiba
B’amagará banyakuntúnga
Baaruhanga órw’éngoma nimwije.

Baamugurira óbw’éngabo ya Bwéra
Yaajooga ishengyero Bugondo.

Baamugurira ómwenda gw’ébizooba
Gwamugarura ómu kingano Nkyerengye.

Eki baatumire égyo nte ekakirééta
Kyaruranga ereetsire Rushungye.

Yaakuura ámaguru g’émbúmbe
Yaatemera émiyenje neefuruka.

Aba Ómugabe akeemera Buzóóba
Ana éngure ákeemeka Gasyonga.

Otuntuntu twamuza áha máisho
Ebingonzi atuura ayánamiire.
B’amagará banyakuntúnga
Baaruhanga órw’éngoma nimwije.

H.F. Morris
‘The Praise Poems of Bahima Women’
from African Language Studies VI (1965) p.54-55


Footnotes

  1. Each woman has a particular merit – the first of fine posture, the second a beautiful bracelet, the third fashionable clothing, and so on.
  2. Women are the gods of the country because like gods they create life.
  3. The cow was sent as bride­wealth and brought back a wife, Rushungye.
  4. The Omugabe, with whom the sixth woman is compared, is the Bahima queen: in 1955, when this Praise-Poem was recorded, the Omugabe was called. Gasyonga.