A Dinka song from South Sudan. It describes the plight of refugees who fled into Zaira in the 1960s from the war between the Khartoum government and the Anyanya nationlist movement in the south.

Gentlemen grind their grain in the land of the Congo;
The Dongolawi, the Arab, has remained at home,(1)
He has remained in our land.
We left our herds tethered in the cattle-camps,
And followed Deng Nhial. (2)
Gentlemen beg in the land of the Congo;
The Dongolawi, the Arab, has remained at home.
We left our herds tethered in the cattle-camps,
And followed Deng Nhial.
When we reached the land of the Congo,
The Congo said, ‘Dinkas are matata!’
I turned and asked Ngar Maker, (3)
‘What does matata mean?’
Ngor Maker answered,
‘He says we are bad.’
My heart became spoiled
In the land of the Congo, my heart was spoiled;
And I thought of Anger, the daughter of Wol Ayalbyor, (4)
I wished I could find her to see her.

from Oral Poetry from Africa (1984),
Compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White,
Longman


Footnotes

  1. Dongolawi: A people of Sudan whose name the Dinka use to refer to all Arabs.
  2. Deng Nhial: One of the Dinka leaders.
  3. Ngar Maker: The singer’s friend.
  4. Anger: The singer’s betrothed.