An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana. Note the triumphant mixture of tenses, something that only happens in oral literature. The first line begins like an empty threat, and ends with a boast.

Wóanware me a,
obi aware me.
Fé na eyo énye aniwu.
Wó dee wompe me a, obi dee ope me.
Fé na eyo énye aniwu.
Obirebe senkye,
Ope asém
suro asem.
Nyame na obebua no.
Kókosakyi odi aman adee,
Adu Gyamfi,
Opé yedi no odó.

If you won’t marry me,
someone else has married me:
It is meet and proper, it is not shameful.
If you don’t want me, someone else does:
It is meet and proper, it is not shameful.
Obirebe senkye, (1)
That bird is inquisitive
but fears to get involved.
I leave it to God to give him the answer.
The vulture that eats the things of all,
Adu Gyamfi, (2)
Wanting a person springs from love.

from Black Orpheus 3 (May, 1958),
K. Nketia


Footnotes

  1. Obirebe senkye: The bird described in the next line.
  2. Adu Gyamfi, who has jilted her, is told that just as a vulture consumes everything, so he should have desired her more fully.