African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Farming

The Farmer in Chaha Song

The Gurage people traditionally inhabit the fertile region of southwest Ethiopia where they grow a banana-like plant called Ensete, as well as coffee and khat. The diligent farmer is often praised in Chaha (the local language of which there are various dialects) songs as the model Gurage citizen and he is depicted on the Ethiopian dollar ploughing his fields.

To be a hardworking cultivator of land, generous to beggars and orphans, and hospitable to neighbours and kinfolk, is the model to which the Gurage aspire.

O man who cultivates the field, how great is your merit!
Wealth flows out from your fingers…

In Praise of Sorghum

A Rukiga farmers’ song in praise of sorghum, one of their staple crops, from the Bakiga “people of the mountains”, who straddle the border between northern Ruanda and southern Uganda. Sorghum is a drought-resistant and heat-tolerant grain, used for food, animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and more recently, biofuels.

Sorghum, sorghum, O sorghum,
sorghum and Kiga are one…

Hold back the Sun

An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana, sung by women at work on their farms. See also Farming Song.

Where is the owner of the bush farm?
Hold back the sun!..

In Praise of the Farmer

An Igbo poem from eastern Nigeria, praising the farmer for his fortitude and encouraging him in his cultivation.

You have wedded your hoe to the soil,
You uproot trees with bare hands,

African Poems