African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Cattle Raiding

Morning Prayers of the Elders (Uganda)

Two separate prayers of the Nandi people, who live in the highlands at the edge of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. These are songs that would be recited at dawn to Asista, the Sun god, along with offerings of beer and milk.

Asista, give us health!
Asista, give us raided cattle!..

The Army is Going to War

A Kipsigi war song from Kenya. Though the song describes the army and its exploits, the purpose of the raid is to capture cattle, this time from the Masai (see also the Cattle Raid). The names in the song are of people and places.

Child’s mother oo wo ho
Child’s mother oo wo ho

The Cattle Raid

A Masai poem from Kenya, describing a raid on the cattle of the Somalis. The first half boasts of the raiders’ skill in evading detection – by the Europeans playing golf, by the police askaris and by the night watchman who snored ‘like a hippo‘. The second half rejoices over the beauty of the cattle they have seized.

The Europeans playing golfu,
Ho! We saw them!

Cattle Songs

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.


The Europeans of Kilosa are proud of the police there,
But we, we are proud of our chosen loibon,

African Poems