A Hausa Praise-Poem from northern Nigeria. Rano was a chief killed in battle around 1870. The poem’s emphasis is placed very firmly and vividly on Rano’s exploits in battle up to the time of his death.
Line’s 5-8 are Rano’s own words, as he rejects food to get on with fighting. He is remembered as a ruler who bound people into new relationships – which explains the epitaph that, since he died, ‘marriage has become unmanageable’.
Sarkin Rano is a beloved of God;
Since he fell in battle, marriage has become unmanageable.
Sarkin Rano, at Ningo he made camp,
His foot soldiers camped in Bira country:
Halilu, see, here is porridge but I do not eat it,
Halilu, here is gruel but I do not drink,
Give me my quiver and give me my bow,
I must seize Dan Yaya and strangle him.
On the day of the clash with the Gudiya people,
The swordsman was hacking,
The spearman was thrusting,
And he with the dagger was stabbing,
He with the axe was hacking…
At the fight to the west of Rantam
We saw terrors there more than a thousand:
Joiner of marriage, joiner of relationship,
Since he fell, marriage has become unmanageable.
from A History of Islamic Verse (1975)
translated by M. Hiskett