An Igbo poem from eastern Nigeria, celebrating initiation into the Nze na Ozo society. To be made Ozo is to become a pillar of the community and a member of the most revered magical-religious community within the Igbo.

Professor Romanus N. Egudu has said of this poem:

On the day the Ozo takes the title, he sings aloud, in a mood of heroic pride, a list of names by which people will henceforth address him…Each of the names is a metaphor. As the camel brings wealth home to the owner, so the Ozo brings wealth home to his people. As the Ngwu trees are very important ones, the land that breeds them is highly regarded .. Some of the names refer to the man’s sources of wealth. He is ‘Height that is fruitful’. This means that one of the most important sources of his income is the tapping of palm-wine … His status is now such that he is compared to a ‘Forest’ which has grown higher than the surrounding bushes, the ‘Flood’ which is so voluminous that its flow cannot be stopped, and to the immensity of a sea that cannot be emptied of its water.

from Black Orpheus
21, April 1967, p. 10

I am:
The Camel that brings wealth,
The Land that breeds the Ngwu tree,
The Performer in the period of youth,
The Back that carries its brother,
The Tiger that drives away the elephants,
The Height that is fruitful,
Brotherhood that is mystic,
Cutlass that cuts thick bushes,
The Hoe that is famous,
The Feeder of the soil with yams,
The Charm that crowns with glory,
The Forest that towers highest,
The Flood that cannot be impeded,
The Sea that cannot be drained.

from Black Orpheus
trans. by Romanus N. Egudu
21, April 1967, p. 10