Oyewumi Alabi was a nineteenth century chief of Ibadan. He was preceded by two chiefs whose reigns were marked by prodigies — a stream breaking forth, a comet appearing. Under Oyewumi Alabi, the colonial hut tax was first imposed.
This satire was recorded in Yorùbá in the early 1950s by Ulli Beier, the German-Jewish scholar who went on to make distinguished contributions to Nigerian literature.
In Aburu’s reign,
A stream broke forth in the sacred grove;
In Layode’s reign
A long-tailed star appeared in the sky;
In Oyewumi Alabi’s time,
My room is rated
Five shillings in the kings coins.
“Yoruba Vocal Music”,
African Music Society Journal 1.3 (1956) 26.
Liked it? Take a second to support African Poems on Patreon