A lament by Sotho women, said to date from the time of Shaka Zulu’s wars. There are different versions of this song in several southern Africa languages, presenting Shaka’s achievements from the perspective of those who suffered from them.

Weakened and weeping, I remain among the ruins.
Weakened and weeping, I remain amid trackless plains. (1)
Tell me, what is this place where I remain?
By my father’s name, with whom do I remain?
They die, do the people, with whom do we remain?
They dwindle, the people, the unworthy ones stay on.
They dwindle, the men, with whom do we remain?

Weakened and weeping, I remain among the ruins.
When the sun has sunk under the earth
I go to the door, I go stealthily and on tip-toe:
I imagine he is coming, I imagine he comes carefree from the hunt.
They die, do the people, with whom do we remain?
They die, do the people, we remain among the ruins.
They die, do the people, we remain amid trackless plains.

D.P. Kunene,
from Heroic Poetry of the Basotho (1971).


Footnotes

  1. That is, far from her home village.