African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Ngoni

Lament (Ngoni)

An Ngoni song from northern Malawi, sung at girls’ initiation ceremonies. The Ngoni were driven into exile by Shaka Zulu’s conquests, and this song presents Shaka’s achievements from the point of view of people who suffered from them.

Zwide was the chief of the Ndwandwe whom Shaka defeated in 1818 (see the poem Shaka). Soshangane, who established his own kingdom in southern Mozambique, was originally one of Zwide’s generals. See also the poem The Dirge of the Warriors’ Widows.

It is because of Zwide, chief of the Soshangane people
That though I lie down I cannot sleep…

The Earth does not get fat

A very old Ngoni poem from Malawi. This was a poem traditionally performed at weddings, but became popularly sung at other occasions such as church meetings. The refrain, ‘the earth does not get fat’, refers to the earth constantly consuming the dead.

The earth does not get fat.
It makes an end of those who wear the head plumes

African Poems