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;
The only escape is the grave!
The government dissembles:
Gurak is added to Geren lo Akur, (1)
And there also Mariiyal and Mabour are taken to cut at the mountain. (2)
Oh Chief lyon, death has dealt cruelly with us!
Choose bearers! There are beans being pounded! (3)
And we have been summoned in our multitudes
By the complaints of Burun’s wife! (4)
Death has defeated us! The foreigners have swept over us!
from Oral Poetry from Africa 1984
compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White,
- Gurak and Geren lo Akur have died working as carriers.
- Mariiyal and Mabour have been taken to work in the quarry.
- Bearers are being recruited, beans are being pounded to pay the huts tax
- Mrs Brown, the district commissioner’s wife, has complained about the state of the roads.
Liked it? Take a second to support African Poems on Patreon