African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Gikuyu

The Twilight Song of Honey-Bird

A Gikuyu herdsboy’s song from Kenya. It sets up a chain of language which links together humorously all aspects of life (see also Who Will Throw Goat’s Dung at Me?).

Honey-bird, honey-bird,
Get arrows, get arrows…

From the Kikuyu Hymnbook

A Gikuyu nationalist song from Kenya, from the days of the Independence struggle. These songs were performed in the forest where the fighters would camp, and later a number of the songs were published in what became known as the Kikuyu Hymnbook.

The Battle of Tumu Tumu Hill

A Gikuyu song from Kenya, describing a battle during the Independence struggle in the 1950s. General Kariba’s group in the Kenya Levellation Army fought the British on Tumu Tumu Hill near Kirimukuyu. The heroism of Waruanja who went disguised to spy out the British position, and of Kanjunio, the girl who brought back his report, and of Gakuru who sacrificed his life to destroy the machine guns, are all commemorated.

Listen and hear this story
Of the Tumu Tumu Hill!

Riddles – Going they talk much, coming back they keep silent.

Chyathie ikenegenaga chyoka ikerete.
Going they talk much, coming back they keep silent.

African Poems