I Am a Griot

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Cadres and collaborators dribbled a liberation jive for my homecoming. They called me Gandanga. I was initiated into this earth by the alto of howling winter-winds, baritones of barking-baboons and the ease soprano of hooting-owls. A child of song. 

I was introduced to the festival of sounds, loud and low, good and bad, discordant and beautiful. Upon arriving at the village homestead, the earth trembled, the air got electric with ululations. My paternal grandmother fervently recited a traditional totemic praise poem. 



Weshanu uri pauta,

 Mavsingo a Govere,

Vari  Zimuto,

 Mukwasha waMambo,

 Vakafura bwe rikabuda ropa”

A lone drum thrilled them into the audience into another dancing routine. The echo of the tinkling drum resonated with the beat of my grandmother’s recitations. They said that my eyes winked in response to their merriment. Even up to this day, I beat my chest with pride to that ceremonial reception performed by an elder qualified to be my ancestor.

My old singer-grandmother usually bundled me behind her old but steely back. Lullabies caressed me into dreamland until my goddess returned from her daily errands.  I was raised by extraordinary songs, sweet and mellow to every infant’s senses.

“Then came my birth cry they say like an exclamation engraved on the yellow-disc of the smoke-bruised African sun. Claws of dawn caressed the sorrow-soaked red-hills…”

“E huhu  hu we ………………

Nyarara mwana

 Mwana anochema,

Chimera Amai Vake  

 Amai vake vakaenda

Vakaenda mhiri kwamuNgezi 

KwamuNgezi kune banga 

 Banga Jena rokuchekanyama

Nyama , Nyama ndeya paruware 

Yapasi inozara mhavhu 

Heinoyi njiva  hu…u , 

Shanga yangu  yawa hu………….u

Yagonhungwa nani hu………..u

Namushaya dende hu………..u

Agoyiisepi hu…………u

Kurudzi rukuru ,kunodyiwa shavi ne ngetenge


Kwiyo goko !”

5 thoughts on “I Am a Griot

  1. Thank you Sophie and the MONK team for publishing this Essay and my poetry . Iam heartily touched . This is a great literary experience for me ,
    Mbizo Chirasha

  2. Truly, you are a griot!!! A most gripping tale of life’s journey. A depth only a participant would know with such fine detail.
    An incredible read, touching and teaching and taunting. Beauty in words with a divine undertone.

  3. Nancy Ndeke thank you greatly for the encouraging words. Iam quite grateful . I want to also thank Sophie Levy Burton and her team at MONK for publishing my essay in this illustrious publication. Together we rise . Aluta Continua!!!

      1. Dear Editor . Iam so glad to . Call me I will reply . Send me I will go . Teach me I will learn . Tell me I will do . Meaning that Iam well ready to work with you . This publication has lifted my soul and greased my brains for better writing . It was a great and positive challenge . Thank you greatly Madam Sophie Levy Burton and your esteemed Team . Together We Rise ,


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