Three Yoruba songs, sung by women supporters of the two parties in the Federal elections of 1959 in western Nigeria. The main contenders were the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (N.C.N.C.), the ruling party whose symbol was the Palm Tree, and the Action Group, whose symbol was a cockerel.
The first song is by the Action Group women who claim the N.C.N.C. belongs, like its symbol, in the bush, along with lepers.
The palm tree grows in the far bush:
Nobody allows the leper to build his house in the town:
The palm tree grows in the far bush.
The N.C.N.C. women respond that a basket made from the fronds of the palm tree can hold up to 30 chickens (or Cockerels!).
The cock is sweet with rice,
If one could get a little oil
With a little salt
And a couple of onions –
Oh the cock is so sweet with rice.
Never mind how many cocks there are:
Even twenty or thirty of them will be contained
In a single chicken basket
Made from the palm tree!
The Action Group women attack the ruling party’s corruption.
You have forgotten that the election is near.
You still show your greedy red eyes
And make your tax assessment:
You have forgotten that the election is near!
from Oral Poetry from Africa 1984
compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White,