African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Children’s Poems

At the New Moon

Another Nandi children’s song from Kenya (see also Who will throw goat’s dung at me).

When the moon is new
The children, if they are Nandi,

The Twilight Song of Honey-Bird

A Gikuyu herdsboy’s song from Kenya. It sets up a chain of language which links together humorously all aspects of life (see also Who Will Throw Goat’s Dung at Me?).

Honey-bird, honey-bird,
Get arrows, get arrows…

Who will throw goat’s dung at me?

A Nandi Children’s song from Kenya, a humorous word-chain that links together all aspects of the children’s future life.

Who will throw goat’s dung at me?
What will you do with goat’s dung?..

The Eggs

A Shona children’s song from Zimbabwe. “Zinjanja”, mentioned in the chorus, is a hill to the east of Harare.

There were once some girls,
There were once some girls,
Let’s go to Zinjanja…

Dancing Song for Children

This song was recorded by Romanus N. Egudu (n.d.) in the Udi Division of Igboland, Nigeria. Professor Egudu comments “Each of these poems is meant to accompany a dance. Local musical instruments like ekwe, ogene and nkwa (all different kinds of drums), übo-aka (a string instrument) and öyö (bead instrument) are used. The drummers and other instrumentalists provide the dance rhythm, and sing at the same time. All the dancers sing as well, and the lead singer is at the same time often the chief dancer.”

The song is a pleasant game with words, but it can be taken in different ways. The boy has lost his pet rat. Everyone knows where the rat is. Is the problem that they daren’t approach the leopard’s house? Or is it implied that the leopard has eaten them all?

The boy was looking for his rat.
His rat was hiding in leopards’s house…

African Poems