I loved a girl: a song by ‘the lads from home’

Thoha and the group are here singing in Uduk, again with a
spoken interjection in the middle. He seems to be addressing a
far-away audience unfamiliar with the fashionable kaloshi style
so popular among the displaced.

I loved a girl but she refused me
I spoke to her and she wouldn’t reply
I asked her name but she wouldn’t say
You should tell your heart I love you
You must tell your heart I want you
I love you but what is your name?

Listen to this in our own home language, you ‘Uduk’ over there!
It may sound to you like ‘white people’s talk’, but this song is by the lads from home.
Don’t say ‘These are foreigners’!
For we will meet again one day if God allows
And we send you greetings now.

I loved a girl but she refused me
I made her an offer but she turned me down
I loved a girl but she wouldn’t have me

(War & Survival, p. 275)


The return of death

William Danga sings the old song of the way that death became permanent, a song associated with the barangu style of music and dance. The barangu was danced, they say, in mythical times when all the animals came together to celebrate, and when people were revived three days after death, to live again like the Moon.  However, the gourd of Moon Oil needed to make this happen was dropped and broken by a silly lizard, the wutule, who quarrelled over it with another.  Since then, people have not normally reappeared after death. The song also refers to a historic battle - probably 19th century - mocking those who fear too many deaths in the struggle. 

William goes on to explain the meaning of the song. 

The gourd of old, how was it broken?
The gourd was broken by the wutule

‘Jaws so coarse and ugly, from crunching funeral goats!’
‘Macha, just leave Bonya alone - They are the fiercest fighters!’
‘You’re so ugly from all this funeral feasting’!

What was the gourd broken for?
The gourd of old, how was it broken?
The gourd was broken by the wutule

(War and Survival, p. 215)


‘ Travelling with my lyre’

Thoha Puna Basha is singing here with a group including percussion on the plastic  jerry-cans in Nor Deng, near Nasir, 1991. The basic verses are in Arabic, and in the popular
kaloshi style of the Blue Nile, a blend of northern Sudanese popular music with local overtones. Lyrics can be set to it
from any of the many local languages of the region. The style
is spreading fast, especially among displaced communities. Assosa was one of the first large Ethiopian camps - now history - to which the singer, in the Uduk language, ironically invites his listeners. 

Wherever I go, my lyre goes too;
I stayed awhile in Ass-so-sa

Assosa’s a little town in Ethiopia
That’s where I used to live!
But we’re now singing this for you in Nasir

I lived awhile in Ass-so-sa
Do come and visit us!
Wherever I go my lyre goes too
I stayed awhile in Ass-so-sa

(War & Survival, p. 227)

Tortoise and the Frogs

This rhythmic ditty is a favourite on the dance ground and for fun and games at home. It is played here to the lyre by Hosiah Dangaye Chalma. 

Tortoise was lap, lap. lapping at the puddles!
And why were the frogs croaking so?
Off she waddled
Denied a cup by the frogs!
The poor thing wept as she went

(War and Survival, p. 222)