Ten Masai cattle songs, this time from Tanzania. These songs are from the Baraguyu dialect, and reveal an intense love of cattle and enjoyment of raiding.

I

The Europeans of Kilosa are proud of the police there,
But we, we are proud of our chosen loibon, (1)
We who never pay cattle tax.

II

To the pregnant white cows of the young boys
Our throats sing a song as we pass by Makai.

III

I love the rain clouds and thunder
Which pass through Olboloti;
They make the grassy plains good for cattle.

IV

Grow big, my calf Leletandi, (2)
You of the oxen with white bellies
Which we stole from the cement-walled enclosure
Of the English which was said to be impregnable.

V

My oxen of the Somalis with the brand marks on their back legs!
I stole them at Torkeri by slipping along through the trees.

VI

I am an olkidotu warrior, not a leaf washed along by a stream. (3)
When we go along together, three of us, a battle is won as soon as it is fought.

VII

The motorcar rumbles from Arusha, Consuming petrol for nothing
For it never catches the warriors!

VIII

I’ve been accused for three years over stolen cattle:
My accuser is Ole Saiguran who takes bribes. (4)

IX

You are making me drunk by your many colours, you, my fine heifer!
I will sing a song as I pass with you through the gate.

X

Avoid the cave-like waterhole at Enjonyongo,
Which belongs to the one who writes complaints to the Idibo court. (5)
Let’s push onwards the curved horns of my prized cow
With the mark of a stool sitting in the middle of its back and with its forelegs marked with white.
Lead it kindly, not roughly,
My humped one named Generous which hurries home to be milked!
We come to the camp of Masano’s father for whom its horns lead to a new camp. (6)

trans. T.C. Beidelman from Journal of African Languages 4, I (1965) 1-18;
African Studies Centre, Michigan State University Press


Footnotes

  1. Loibon: the chief.
  2. Leletandi: the calf’s name, and possibly the Baraguyu name for its original English owner.
  3. Olkidotu: the name of the singer’s age-set.
  4. Ole Saiguran: one of the neighbouring Ngulu people who disapprove of raiding and who testified against the singer in court at Idibo.
  5. Idibo: where the court is. The singer hates the court for inter­ferring with his sport of cattle raiding.
  6. Masano is the singer’s sister, All other names in these songs are place names.