African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Chisena

Drama Songs – Paiva

Many of the protest songs sung by the chiSena women of the Lower Zambesi region of Mozambique contain a short play, inserted into the song. A typical performance begins with the women standing in a circle, bending forward from the waist and clapping or clacking piece of wood or shaking tin machacha as accompaniment to the lead singer. Then, one at a time, they perform brief solo dances, eyes fixed on the ground slightly to the left and elbows crooked, shaking their buttocks to the rhythm. After several repetitions of the main verse, the song breaks off while the drama is performed, enacting its main theme. The stage is the circle of singers, which remains unbroken, and anyone it seems can perform, the actors frequently being replaced half-way through by women who feel they can do better. The audience consists of the remaining women, who scream with laughter at the caricatures of bribery and beatings, rape, extortion and arrest…

Prayer for Rain

A ChiSena prayer to Chauta (God) from southern Malawi. The prayer is led by an elder, with the people responding in chorus.

Chauta we beseech you, we beseech you!
You have refused us rain, we beseech you!

Think Carefully of this Path

A chiSena funeral song from southern Malawi on the theme of equality in death, for rich and poor, black and white.

This path, yes, this path, yes,
think carefully of this path, o-ye

African Poems