A Rukiga love song, from the Abakiga “people of the mountains”, who straddle the border between northern Ruanda and southern Uganda. As so often in these poems, the images are drawn from the cattle they rear, the bananas they grow as a staple crops, and the natural life of their region.

Eye of a calf
Neck like the crested crane’s
Legs like young banana stems
Gums bright as a babe’s
Teeth that out-glitter ice (1)
Foot delicate as a child’s
O eye of the calf, O child-voice,
O heart-drum, let me die with you.

from Pulsations, an East African Anthology of Poetry,
Arthur Kemoli (ed),
(Nairobi, 1969)


  1. Ice forms in the cold season on their mountain peaks.