A Somali song from the days of Turkish rule. The singer’s ironically compares his troubles – the Mahdi making war, the locusts eating his crops, his wife’s grumbling, the ants eating his stores, the Sultan’s men who have stolen his horse, and the soldiers camped nearby.

Between the Sayyid who upsets wealth and exterminates people (1)
And the locust who has eaten the buds, which is the better for me?
Between the woman I have married and who has never been contented
and the ants that have eaten my stores, which is the better for me?
Between the men who have carried away my horse and have not left peace
And the soldiers who have come now, which is the better for me?

from Journal of the Royal African Society XIX (1919-20),
E. Cerulli


  1. The Sayyid: The Mahdi. See also The Mahdi’s Boast