A Lomwe woman’s song from central Mozambique. The singer is forced to grow cotton for the Companhia dos Algodões de Moçambique, owner of the cotton concession for the district of Ile. Her earnings are a derisory 5 escudos. Meanwhile, under the same forced labour laws, her husband is a labour migrant, working 300 km away at Luabo, headquarters of Sena Sugar Estates.

Sung by Armena Muhinayula, Helena Souzinho and Casavera Fernando, all from Mulevale, Ile, at Checanyama compound village, Luabo, 30 August, 1975.

I suffer, I do
Oyi-ya-e-e
I suffer, I do
I suffer, my heart is weeping
What’s to be done?
I suffer, my heart is weeping
I cultivate my cotton
I suffer, my heart is weeping
Picking, picking a whole basketful
I suffer, my heart is weeping
I’ve taken it to the Boma there (1)
I suffer, my heart is weeping
They’ve given me five escudos
I suffer, my heart is weeping
When I reflect on all this
Oyi-ya-e-e
I suffer, I do
I suffer, my heart is weeping
My husband, that man
I suffer, my heart is weeping
He went there to Luabo
I suffer, my heart is weeping
He went to work, work hard
I suffer, my heart is weeping
He broke off some sugarcane to eat (2)
I suffer, my heart is weeping
Leaving work, he was arrested
I suffer, my heart is weeping
He was taken to the police
I suffer, my heart is weeping
He was beaten on the hand
I suffer, my heart is weeping
When I reflect on all this
Oyi-ya-e-e
I suffer, I do
I suffer, my heart is weeping

Kohaw’oye,
Oyi-ya-e-e
Kohaw’oye,
Kohawa, murima onanla
Miyano thitho?
Kohawa, murima onanla
Nochochi nakalimi
Kohawa, murima onanla
Alulo, alulo etokwa,
Kohawa, murima onanla
oPoma iwe keliwo
Kohawa, murima onanla
Kinyiviwo nekomi
Kohawa, murima onanla
Miyo wupuwela-ay
Oyi-ya-e-e
Kohaw’oye
Kohawa, murima onanla
Ayakali hali
Kohawa, murima onanla
oLuapo iwe keli
Kohawa, murima onanla
Olapawaya lapi
Kohawa, murima onanla
Alikintaki muhali ali
Kohawa, murima onanla
Evinyekali makivo
Kohawa, murima onanla
Wapulisiya keli
Kohawa, murima onanla
Anamiwa matani
Kohawa, murima onanla
Miyo wupuwela-ay
Oyi-ya-e-e
Kohaw’oye
Kohawa, murima onanla

from Capitalism & Colonialism in Mozambique (1980), 352-53,
Leroy Vail & Landeg White


Footnotes

  1. The Boma is the administrative centre, the local chefe do posto being responsible for forcing the women to work and supervising the cotton sales.
  2. Cane cutters were strictly forbidden to refresh themselves with sugarcane, and the penalties were severe.