African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Iwi

Towns (Ibadan)

A Yoruba Iwi, or masqueradors’, chant from Nigeria. It is a sharp criticism of modern Ibadan as a town of thieves, violence and disease. For more Iwi poetry, see Tricks.

The spirit of the rock protects the town.
Ibadan, don’t fight!..

Why do we Grumble?

A Yoruba Iwi poem from Nigeria. In a series of proverb-like metaphors, the poem comments on the advantages of variety in life.

Why do we grumble because a tree is bent
When, in our streets, there are even men who are bent?…


A Yoruba Iwi chant from Nigeria. Iwi is the poetry of masqueraders, who personify the ancestors in the Egungun masks. Through the masks, the ancestors comment wisely or satirically on the living. In Tricks a series of proverb-type metaphors are put together to make the point that death is unavoidable.

The star is trying to outshine the moon,
The frog is preparing a trick to get wings,


A Yoruba Iwi song from Nigeria.

The owner of yam peels his yam in the house:
A neighbour knocks at the door.

African Poems