Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Yoruba Poem

Jeff with Olori Egbe Obatala

Osa-Alawore (trad. Translated from Yoruba by Jeff Davidson)

One Sage is more powerful than another
One Sage can swallow another completely
The parrot flies to the top of the Iroko tree
and its voice is like an iron gong
All of them spoke for "The-Spirit-of-Destiny-Brought-Good-Things"
The first son of the Chief, who protects himself with his great Mind
He said: "Please inform Alara that I have met with good fortune"
He said: "Please inform Ajero that I have met with good fortune"
He said: "Please inform Owurangun, the owner of the Royal Chair that I have met with good forutne"
The lost good fortune has returned!
If good fortune enters the house, let us be calm in handling it
If we are quick-tempered or impatient, good fortune will retreat to the jungle
The Joyful! The Multitudes! I shall die in the midst of a crowd of children
I heard the dropping of star apples...children, please come 'round and gather apples for me
The Sneaking Cat Society...The Society of the Powerful
The Owner of Igodo Spring water, that people wake up early to fetch

It is the Sages who render the cobra powerless; It is the Sages who render the boa powerless
It is the Sages who render the leopard powerless in the dead of night
It is the Sages, the Dangerous Ones.


Anonymous said...

Se Alafia Ni,

I am a student of Awo Atanda from Oshogbo. I am interested in learning more about the Yoruba martial arts. Will you be writing more on them? Are there any other resources on the internet you can direct me to?

Ire Iworiwofun,


guro jeff davidson said...

Ayagbo Ayato Ade,

I have never met Awo Atanda personally, but I have a transcript from a lecture he gave on the west coast.

I haven't had time to write very much on the Yoruba martial arts aside from my own field notes. Hopefully on my next trip to Ogun state I'll be able to do more research. I also suspect that the region of Ketu (now in the Republic of Benin) maintains a martial arts practice. When I was there for a festival, I observed some of the men "dancing" with heavy wooden staffs - and they seemed to know what they are doing.

Try to find Earle White. He was in Los Angeles the last I knew. He knows as much as about African martial arts, Yoruba and otherwise as anyone over here. Good Luck!

"Eni se rere se efun ra re,
Eni se ika, se efun ra re"