An extract from a Sotho Praise-Poem from Lesotho. In 1926, there was a succession dispute over the Paramount Chieftaincy in which the Roman Catholic missionaries supported Chief Seeiso’s rival. The attack on the Christians is therefore appropriate as part of the praises of Seeiso, the warrior (see also It All Started With the Conversion).
Seeiso accepts no cowards;
The children of the family of Mary he rejects:
On hearing, ‘The chief is riding’,
They usually begin to comb their hair,
And I’d hear them ask, ‘Where is the teacher?’
You trust in the father more than in the chief!
There in the battle someone takes fright,
He puts on his trousers back to front,
And the buttons are shining on his buttocks!
Seeiso, make friends of the Christians
But don’t tell the Christians of war,
For of death they’re much afraid:
They’re always being told of it in church!
from Lithoko: Sotho Praise Poems,
Oxford University Press (1974),
ed. & trans. M. Damane & P. Saunders
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