A Dinka song from South Sudan. The young men singing this song consider themselves as a special age-set, using their education to ‘change the land’. Their mothers must learn that, in the modern world, clothes and pens are more important than cattle as wealth.
Our junior age-set in white gathers at Abyei, (1)
The school is convened,
The age-set in white knows the words of wisdom.
I shall turn the land upside down,
I shall change the land.
I am a small boy but I am a man,
I sit in the place where words flow.
Our mothers all cry,
‘Our children have gone astray,
The land has remained without a child.’ (2)
Mother, I do not blame you;
There is nothing that you know,
Nothing you know,
The word of the world is creeping on.
It comes, crossing the lands beyond.
In Khartoum, a child is born, and goes. (3)
Am I to appease you only with a cow?
What about the white clothes and my pen?
from The Dinka of the Sudan (1972)
- Abyei: The oil-producing town on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. It’s status is currently disputed.
- The children (this was 1972) have all left home to attend school.
- In the then capital, children leave home almost immediately.