African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Ghana (Page 1 of 2)

As I came from the bush I met a demon

An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana, complaining about the work conditions during the colonial period. For this singer, colonial rule began with the recruitment of carriers.

As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Come and help me carry!..

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!..

The Jilted Woman

An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana. Note the triumphant mixture of tenses, something that only happens in oral literature. The first line begins like an empty threat, and ends with a boast.

If you won’t marry me,
someone else has married me…

Prayer for a New-Born Child

A Ga chant from Ghana. On the eighth day after a child is born, the relatives and friends gather for the ‘out-dooring’ ceremony. Very early in the morning, the baby is brought outside for the first time. An old person takes the baby in his or her arms and raises it to the dew three times. He then chants this prayer, to which everyone present responds Yao, meaning ‘Amen’.

Hail, hail, hail, let happiness come: Yao.
Are our voices one? Yao

Death Does Not Like Money

An Akan Highlife song from Ghana, popular in the 1970s. It is by the late, well-known singer Alex Konadu (1950-2011).

Death does not like money oo! Konadu ee!
We shall all enter a hole in the earth, this death hmm!..

Poor Fowl

A song of the Ashanti people from Ghana, humorously pretending to sympathise with the poor chicken which is always used in sacrifices.

Fowl, condolences, poor, poor, poor fowl;
Fowl, condolences, poor, poor, poor fowl…

The Path and the River

An Ashanti poem from Ghana, an extract from a drum poem in praise of the river God Tano, addressed as “Kokon Tano” and “Birefia Tano” (see also Drum Address To The Earth Spirit).

The path has crossed the river,
The river has crossed the path…

Is the chief greater than the hunter?

An Akan song from Ghana, sung by professional hunters. The song’s argument is that hunters, with all their skills and bravery, are greater than chiefs, who depend on hunters for their luxuries.

Is the chief greater than the hunter?
Arrogance! Hunter? Arrogance!…

Drum Address to the Earth Spirit

An Ashanti drum poem from Ghana. The poem is praising the Earth which supports us in life and receives us in death.

Earth, condolences,
Earth, condolences…

Valiant Owusu

An Akan dirge from Ghana. Owusu was a Mass Education Officer, killed in a car accident in 1952. The dirge is sung by his former landlady, a trader called Koramma, who mourns him as if he were her brother.

Valiant Owusu,
The stranger on whom the citizen of the town depends,

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African Poems