African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Work Songs

As I came from the bush I met a demon

An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana, complaining about the work conditions during the colonial period. For this singer, colonial rule began with the recruitment of carriers.

As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Come and help me carry!..

A mighty bell is six o’clock

A Xhosa song about working in the gold mines of Johannesburg. These short work songs are sung rhythmically by a group of miners to make the work easier. Rhini, Qonce and Tinarha are the Xhosa names for three of the local gold mines.

A mighty bell is six o’clock:
I went to Rhini and found the men…

Work Songs I

A Mandari song from southern Sudan, from the days of British rule (‘Tali’ government is Mandari government, Chief Iyon being appointed by the colonial authorities). The complaints are about taxation and forced labour.

The Tali government is oppressive,
Passing its time in harsh punishment

African Poems