African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Wealth

The Wealthy Merchant

A Hausa example of something that happens across West Africa, but is not often recorded. A singer accosts a prominent person in public, in this case a merchant, and begins praising him. But the praises are ambiguous, and unless the singer is rewarded, they slip into savage satire. The poem becomes a dialogue between the singer and the merchant’s pocket, each line tipping the balance one way or the other.

There is no god but Allah,
this is the praise of Allah…

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…

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