An Acoli death-defying dirge from Uganda, sung by relatives of the deceased as they arrive for the Guru Lyel ceremony. See also the poems Close to Her Husband and If Death were not there.

About fifty yards or so from the homestead the mourners, who up to now were in single file, form up in battle formation and storm the homestead in mock attack. The women running behind them, armed with battle axes, make ululations and shout the praise-name of the clan. On re-grouping, the soloist leaps up and stamps the ground rhythmically, singing the first line of the dirge; the rest takes up the chorus.

Okot p’Bitek, The Horn of My Love (1974) p. 22

Fire rages at Latima, oh,
Fire rages in the valley of River Cumu,
Everything is utterly utterly destroyed;
If I could reach the homestead of Death’s mother,

My daughter, I would take a long grass torch;
If I could reach the homestead of Death’s mother,
I would destroy everything utterly utterly,
Like the fire that rages in the valley of River Cumu.

It rages at Latima, oh,
Fire rages in the valley of River Cumu,
Everything is utterly utterly destroyed;
If I could reach the homestead of Death’s mother,

My clansmen, we would fight ruthlessly,
If I could reach the homestead of Death’s mother,
I would destroy everything utterly utterly,
Like the fire that rages in the valley of River Cumu.

from The Horn of My Love (1974);
Okot p’Bitek