The theme of the poems in this section is pleasure — pleasure in games and riddles, pleasure in singing and dancing, pleasure in drumming and musicianship, pleasure in drinking, smoking and story-telling, and pleasure in the beauty of the landscape, a whole range of pleasures from childhood to old age.
A Bahima women’s Praise-Poem from Uganda. The chorus is repeated after each praise. The first five praises (Lines 1–12) refer to the whole herd of cattle, after which the singer proceeds to praise each animal separately.
They are as greedy as Ishe-Katabazi;
I want them to graze in the newly burnt grass of Rwanda.
Two Zulu women’s Praise-Poems. In Zulu society, women often compose their own praises which are performed whenever groups of women are together with no men present. The Praise-Poems are descriptions of a woman’s personality and achievements, though they are often used to express complaints.
I am she who cuts across the game reserve
That no girl crosses…
An Igbo poem from eastern Nigeria, celebrating initiation into the Nze na Ozo society. To be made Ozo is to become a pillar of the community and a member of the most revered magical-religious community within the Igbo.
The Camel that brings wealth…
An Igbo poem from eastern Nigeria, praising the farmer for his fortitude and encouraging him in his cultivation.
You have wedded your hoe to the soil,
You uproot trees with bare hands,
An Akan poem from Ghana, sung by women in praise of the returning warrior. The camel blanket and the sandals on which Agyei is described as treading are metaphors for the men who are carrying him in triumph on their shoulders.
He is coming, he is coming,
Treading along on camel blanket in triumph.