African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Gurage

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…

O Cultivator, How Great is Your Merit

A song from the Gurage people of Ethiopia. Like Warga, Son of Qariso, this poem is in part an appeal to the successful man to share his wealth.

O cultivator, how great is your merit!
Wealth flows from your fingers…

The Cure for Poverty

A Chaha song from the Gurage people of Ethiopia. The song recommends hard work and cooperation as a cure for poverty, and explains how vanity and recklessness are its causes.

One expels and drives away poverty
By holding the gaza-wood of the plough,

Warga, Son of Qariso

A Chaha Praise-Poem from the Gurage people of Ethiopia. Warga is not a ruler but a wealthy man who is praised for his generosity to the poor. This is, of course, a poem chanted by someone hoping to benefit from Warga’s wealth.

My master Warga, son of Qariso,
Since you were created, when has there been any distress?

African Poems