This is a funeral dirge from Ghana that was performed to honour Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, the 15th King of the Asante Kingdom who died in February 1999. The artists are Manhyia Tete Nwomkoro Kuo (the “Traditional Nnwonkoro Group from Manhiya”).
I am grateful to the South African poet, Vusi Mchunu, for the following elegy dedicated to the Afro-German poet, educator and activist May Ayim.
It is a long fall from the concrete heights of Kreuzberg
It is a long way to the hill of Alt St. Matthaeus Cemetery…
The following poem was originally recited by Ibo warriors as their leader Ojea lay dying on a battlefield in sight of victory. It has since gone onto become a song performed at funerals.
Ojea, noble Ojea, look round before you depart,
Ojea, see, the fight is over…
These are a series of Nyembara songs from Sudan, performed to mourn the death of Chief Yokwe Kerri in the 1930’s. They were collected by A. C. Beaton, with additional help in translation from the Bari language into English by a Father Spagnola.
How came bereavement to his house?
How came forlorn-ness?
The following Iremoje was part of the dirges chanted at the funeral of a deceased hunter, Ogunjinmi, whose name means “the god Ogun blesses or favours me”.
Ogunjinmi, you have caught your father’s dog.
A needle that falls into a pit is lost forever…