Another version of the praises of the Shava clan of the Shona people of Zimbabwe (see also Thank You, Shava). Clan Praises are addressed not to specific kings as in the Zulu tradition, but to the whole lineage. At the heart of the praise is the totem associated with the clan, in this case the Eland. Museyamwa is one of the dynasties within the clan.

Thank you, my Support!
Thank you eland, my dear tawny one.
Bless you, Mutekedza, the honoured dead who are in Buhera. (1)
Thank you, you of the bracelet of white beads, bull eland; (2)
Going with power and grace as the noise when your knees bend reveals like a region full of wasps; (3)
Bless you, great beast, those of the tails that protect the whole body in their sweep.
When you cross the river. the water climbs the hills in its excitement.
Those who are hunted by those with horns of evil intent.
When they turn a ridge, hoeing while running, the very soil is amazed. (4)
Who cry even for those who have insulted and provoked them, ready to negotiate.
Their tears never fall openly on the ground revealing their real feelings;
But if they do fall, they will have to be requited in human blood.
We acknowledge gratefully you owners of the new saplings,
parents who have given the young such good manners;
Who bear white horns, white as the moon, a sign of your kind hearts;
So the things you have done for me have been seen, not only by me,
but by all my people whom you have served in me.
You hunters of good things;
Indeed, this is what has been done, Sarirambi, the one who remains firm. (5)

from Mambo Book of Zimbabwean Verse in English,
Colin & O-lan Style,
(Mambo Press, 1986).


Footnotes

  1. Places the Shona inhabited on their migration to their present home, and where ancestors are buried. As always, the praise of the totem is intertwined with the clan’s history.
  2. Elands have white markings like bangles on their legs.
  3. Elands move accompanied by a loud clicking or buzzing sound. It is speculated the animal’s weight causes the two halves of its hooves to splay apart, snapping together when the animal raises its leg.
  4. When elands run, their weight turns up the soil as though they were hoeing.
  5. Sarirambi: An ancestor’s name.