A Chaha song from the Gurage people of Ethiopia. The song recommends hard work and cooperation as a cure for poverty, and explains how vanity and recklessness are its causes.

One expels and drives away poverty
By holding the gaza-wood of the plough,
By being of one mind in the house,
By not quarrelling, by loving one another,
By wearing short pants ready for work!

One brings in poverty by leading it with one’s hand,
By washing clothes every day, making them gleam,
By drinking at the monthly gathering with unequals,
By killing a bull that has bought with a loan,
By mortgaging the security!

Will death stay away? One is as though dead!
It is Mary who sent the news, (1)
The Trinity told me to announce it fully,
Everyone cultivate the land! One becomes great in cultivating well!

from Africa 34 (1964)
translated by Professor Leslau


Footnotes

  1. This message is said to come from the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity.