A popular Zulu song about a young migrant worker who has left home to seek jobs in Johannesburg, based on a true incident.

We were sent by our parents
To search for our father’s child:
He went, and he vanished in Goli. (1)
We loved this child of our father,
He left a gap at home.
We arrived at the huge station in Jozi: (2)
They said, ‘If you want him, go to the Malay Camp’ (3)
We went, and when we arrived there we were attacked by a mob,
And there we caught sight of him among the attackers.
The policemen came
And the mob dispersed.
Then we said, ‘We want him.’
We said, ‘Where is he? Where has he gone?’
They said, ‘Here he is among the ruffians.’
We found him jiving and jumping to the sound of a big banging piano:
It was said to us, ‘These are ruffians, these are ruffians!’

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


Footnotes

  1. Goli: A Zulu name for Johannesburg
  2. Jozi: Another Zulu name for Johannesburg
  3. Malay Camp: A township close to the city