SALUTE TO THE ELEPHANT

 (Translated. A. Babalowa)

O elephant, possessor of a savings-basket full of money

O elephant, huge as a hill, even in a crouching posture.

O elephant, enfolded by honour; demon, flapping fans of war.

Demon who snap tree branches into many pieces and moves on to the forest farm

 O elephant, who ignores “ I have fled to my father for refugeâ€� let alone “to my motherâ€�

Mountain Animal, Huge Beast who tears a man likes a garment and Hangs him up on a tree.

The sight of whom causes people to stampede toward a hill of safety.

My chant is a salute to the elephant:

Ajanaku who walks with a heavy tread.

Demon who swallows palm-fruit bunches whole, even with the spiky pistill-cells

O elephant, praisenamed laaye, massive animal, blackish-grey in complexsion.

O elephant, who single-Handed causes a tremor in a dense tropical forest.

O elephant, who stand sturdy and alert, who walks slowly as if reluctantly

O elephant, whom one sees and point towards with all one’s fingers

The hunter’s boast at home is not repeated when he really meets the elephant.

The hunter’s boast at home is not repeated before the elephant. Ajanaku looks back with difficulty like a person suffering from a sprained neck

The elephant has a port’s-knot without having any load on his head. The elephant’s head is his burden, which he balances

O elephant, praisnamed Laaye, “ o death, please stop following me�-

This is part and percel of the elephant’s appellation.

If you wish to know the elephant, the elephant who is a a veritable ferry man,

The elephant whom honour matches, the elephant who continually swings his trunk,

His upper fly-switch,

It’s the elephant whose eyes are veritable water-jars.

O elephant, the vagrant par execellence,

Whose molar teeth are as wide as palm-oil pits in ijesaland.

O elephant, lord of the forest, respectfully called oriiribobo

O elephent whose teeth are like shafts.

One tooth of his is a porter’s load, O elephant fondly called otiko

Who has a beast-of- burden’s proper neck.

O elephant, whom the hunter somstimes sees face to face.

O elephant, whom the hunter at other times sees from the rear

Beast who carries mortars and yet walks with a swaggering gait.

Primeval lepar, animal treading ponderously.

THE EUROPEAN

Camma Traditional Poem

In the blue palace of the deep ocean

Dwells a strange being.

His skin is white like salt’

His hair is long like plaited seaweed.

His dress is made of fishes,

Fishes more charming than birds.

His house is built of brass rods

His garden is a forest of tobacco leaves.

His country is strewn with white pearls

Like sand on the beach.

 

A BABY IS A EUROPEAN

Ewe Traditional Poem

 A baby is a European

He does not eat our food:

He drinks from his own water pot.

A baby is a European

He does not speak our tongue:

He is cross when the mother understands him not.

A baby  is a European

He cares very little for others:

He forces his will upon his parents.

A baby is a European

He is  always very sensitive:

The slightest scratch on his skin results in an ulcer.

 

MY GOD AND ANCESTORS

Ibo Traditional Poem

My God and ancestors,

I thank you

For letting me see this day;

May I continue to see more

Till my hair becomes white;

May the hoe never cut my feet;

Protect me and my husband

From evil men and spirits;

I wish no man evil

But if anyone says I have lived too long,

Let him go before me to see

What it is like in the land of the dead;

The man who holds on to owho

Cannot get lost in his journey.

COOKING WOMAN

Ibo Traditional Poem

When woman cooks, cooks and the food is never done

When woman cooks, cooks and the foods is never done

Die –hard caller stays, stays, without going:

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Die-hard caller stays, stays, without going.

 

When women fries, fires without ending

When woman fires, fires without ending

Die-hard caller stays, stays, without going:

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Die –hard caller stays, stays, without going

 

When woman pounds, pounds without finishing

When woman pounds, pounds without finishing

Die – hard caller stays, stays, without going:

 

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Yes Yes Yes, without going

Die – hard caller stays, stays, without going.

BREAD-FRUIT

Ibo Traditional Poem

What happened to Nweke Njeghiliona?

 

E – E Nweke Njeghiliona;

Bread – fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E-E Nweke Njeghiliona.

 

What happened to Bread – fruit?

Splinter split bread – fruit

Bread – fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E –E Nweke Njeghiliona.

 

What happened to splinter?

Fire burnt splinter

Splinter split bread-fruit

Bread-fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E – e Nweke Njeghiliona.

 

What happened to fire?

Water quenched fire

Fire burnt splinter

Splinter split bread-fruit

Bread – fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E – E Nweke Njeghiliona.

 

What happened to water?

Goat drank water

Water quenched fire

Fire burnt splinter

Splinter split bread – fruit

Bread-fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E- E Nweke Njeghiliona.

 

What happened to  goat?

Death killed goat

Goat drank water

Water quenched  fire 

Fire burnt splinter

Splinter split bread – fruit

Bread – fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E- E Nweke Njeghiliona,

 

Who created death?

God created death

Death killed goat

Goat drank water

Water quenched fire

Fire burnt  splinter

Splinter split bread- fruit

Bread – fruit crushed Nweke Njeghiliona,

E –E Nweke Njeghiliona.

THE TRAIN

Iteso traditional Poem

The train

Carries everybody

Everywhere.

 

It carries the men

It carries the women

It carries me too

A blind boy

Wherever  it carries me

Alas, I meet distress

And knock against it

With my knee.

It carries the men

It carries the women,

It carries the blind boy

To his distress.

IT HAS BEEN RAINING AND RAINING

Akan Traditional Poem

It has been raining and raining.

It has been raining and raining.

I go out  to leave my footprints:

Behold  the footprints of my love.

All footprints are not alike.

I go out to leave my footprints,

And find the footprints of my love.

 

He has two loves.

He has two loves.

I go to see him off:

I meet  the other women.

I cannot go on.

I cannot go back:

I burst into tears.

US - Africa Literary Foundation

US
Chimdi Maduagwu, PhD
Executive Director
US-Africa Writers Foundation
Info@us-alf.org
AFRICA
Dr. Bode Osanyin
Chairman, Department of Creative Arts
University of Lagos
Department of Creative Arts
Akoka, Yaba
Lagos, Nigeria
info@us-alf.org

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