African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Gonga


Two Gonga laments from the Kaffa Highlands of south-west Ethiopia. They use the form of the Praise-Poem to mourn the defeat of the king, Hinnare-tato, and the scattering of his people. The over­throw of the Hinnaro kingdom actually occurred in the early eighteenth century, but these songs were popular in the 1970s when they expressed the feelings of the people of the area about the rule of Haile Selassie before the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974. The poems convey a vivid impression of former wealth and glory and the sadness of living under alien rule.

The Hinnare-tato has become a simple man,
Our magnificent gold has become copper…

The Gimma

A Gonga song from the Kafa Highlands of south­ west Ethiopia. During the mid-nineteenth century, according to tradition, the Kafa king asked his people to prepare for war against the Gimma, a powerful sultanate on their northern borders. The people refused to fight.

African Poems