An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana, complaining about the work conditions during the colonial period. For this singer, colonial rule began with the recruitment of carriers.

As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Come and help me carry!
As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Oh yes!
As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Come and help me carry!

We all belong to the white man:
Strength is better than weakness!
We all belong to the white man:
Oh yes!
We all belong to the white man:
Strength is better than weakness!

I ate raw locusts till I’m feeling poorly: (1)
Yes, locusts!
I ate raw locusts till I’m feeling poorly:
Oh yes!
I ate raw locusts till I’m feeling poorly:
Yes, locusts!

The hyenas caught the Ghana people’s spirit:
It lost heart!
The hyenas caught the Ghana people’s spirit:
Oh yes!
The hyenas caught the Ghana people’s spirit:
It lost heart!

from Oral Poetry from Africa (1984),
compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White,
Longman


Footnotes

  1. Beginning in 1914, there were severe famines in Ghana, linked to regular invasions by locusts.