African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: ChiLomwe

Song of the Machila-Bearers

A Lomwe song, from the early days of the Lugella Company, which in 1915 opened a Sisal plantation in north-central Mozambique. The word ‘machila’ means cloth, and became by extension the word for the hammock in which Europeans used to be carried. Four carriers, one at each corner, would run in step, singing to maintain their rhythm. Frequently, the songs made fun of the passenger, who didn’t speak the bearers’ language.

You weep, you sleep stiffly, when you are old!
O – o,
You weep, you sleep stiffly, when you are old!
O – o,

I Heard a Bell

A ChiLomwe girls’ song from Malawi, popular as a pounding song (sung by women using mortar and pestle to pound grain to flour). The bell is a bicycle bell.

I heard a bell ngili-ngili at the corner:
I thought it was my boyfriend, the son of Chipo,

African Poems