African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Drinking Songs

The Well-Wined Warrior

This is another version of the song in praise of palm-wine, attributed to Liyongo the national hero of the Swahili people. See also Liyongo’s Drinking Song for a different version of this song.

O tapster of soured wine,
from the sheath of the withered palm…

To Palm Wine

Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree. This is a popular Yoruba song in praise of the drink.

Alimotu of the gourd
Lamihun in the fibrous clump…

The Song of King Agongolo

A drinking song from Benin, formerly Dahomey, celebrating the pleasures of life which should be enjoyed while we have the opportunity. Agongolo, who was King of Dahomey in the late eighteenth century, is chiefly remembered chiefly for two things: for good living, and for ‘walking in blood’.

If I had money
I should buy drinks to drink…

Three Women

This Shona Praise-Poem from Zimbabwe praises two women, the speaker’s mother-in-law and his wife, and criticises a third woman, his friend’s wife, for her laziness and unattractiveness. It belongs to the context of a beer party at which two friends, joined in the special joking relationship of ushamwari, are having a mock argument, each trying to outdo the other in eloquence.

The mother of my wife has guardian spirits like to mine.
On seeing me, she will give me her whole barn.

The Boast of the Good Farmer

A Shona poem from Zimbabwe, recited by the farmer himself at a beer party given for his friends to celebrate his harvest. The poem ends with a well-known song in which everybody joined.

I have ploughed and I have sweated,
And now I am enjoying my crops, my friends,

African Poems