African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Cattle

Dubulihasa, the Ox

The story of Dubulihasa strictly falls within the tradition of Xhosa folktale (nstomi) and not poetry (izibongo) but I thought readers would find it interesting as the story has at its heart a song that is repeated throughout the tale…

Where the Blue-Grey Bulls are Grazing

A song from the Kipsigis people of the Kericho highlands in south-west Kenya, celebrating the beauty of the landscape. The description is almost entirely in terms of the singer’s cattle and of the scene’s colours.

We live at the field of Kagipsirich,
We live where the calf, the calf plays with the calabash…

The Bahima Women praise their Cattle

A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem, recorded in 1955 in Ankole, and composed and recited by Ntamaare. The Bahima people are the cattle-herders among the Bayankole people of southwest Uganda. In these praises, originally in the Runyankole language, the subject is the cattle for which they are famous. Each of the different cows belonging to the herd is admired for its unique characteristics, especially their hide and their horns. The chorus (When they stampede etc.) is repeated after each praise.

They are as greedy as Ishe-Katabazi:
I want them to graze in the newly burnt grass of Rwanda…

In Praise of Cattle

A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem from Uganda. The chorus is repeated after each praise. The first five praises (Lines 1-12) refer to the whole herd of cattle, after which the singer proceeds to praise each animal separately. Many of them have their own praise-names (e.g. ‘She Whose Horns Encircle Like Handcuffs’), and the general description in this Praise-Poem is marvellously vivid.

They are as greedy as Ishe-Katabazi;
I want them to graze in the newly burnt grass of Rwanda.

African Poems