Linguistic Taboo in Oromo Marriage Terms–A Study of the Oromo Laguu
THE HISTORY OF SOMALI DIR CLAN: TAARIKHDA BEESHA DIREED DIR
Linguistic Taboo in Oromo Marriage Terms–A Study of the Oromo Laguu
August 22, 2012
Linguistic Taboo in
African Marriage Context:
A Study of the Oromo Laguu
University of Gaston Berger, Senegal
The present paper is a descriptive study of a custom in Oromo culture (Ethiopia) known under
the name of laguu or lagacha, which consists in avoiding mentioning the names of the
persons who are relations by marriage. The topic deserves much attention as an
ethnolinguistic phenomenon in the above-mentioned culture and on which nothing has been
written so far. The study shows that because of language taboo, husband, wife and the in-laws
avoid using their respective names and substitute for them several forms, most of which are
coinings. The study analyses the taboo-words and describes the mechanisms used for finding
Keywords: Linguistic taboo, marriage, Oromo, language, culture
Linguistic taboo or the fact of avoiding mentioning certain words and
expressions in a language is a common practice in more than one society. In
traditional Africa, as a result of their lack of decency, shocking character or
immorality and in order not to hurt the other members of the society, many a
term are never used in the lives of some individuals although the latter know
them perfectly. In Madagascar, for example, different peoples use the term fady
to refer to and justify their numerous prohibitions. Several Bantu tribes share the
same notion of taboo in spite of their differences and of the names each of them
uses. The terms imi-ziro in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), bi-kila in Lingala (D.R. of
Congo), bi-jila or bi-bindi in Ciluba (D.R. of Congo), to give only a few, refer to
But, taboo language is not only associated with lack of decency. Very often,
it is just a matter of convention where the normal use of an item in a language is
inhibited due to particular social values and beliefs (Trudgill, 1986:29). The
tabooed items vary from one society to another. According to Trudgill (ibid.:
30), the strongest taboo-words in the English-speaking world are still associated
with sex, followed by those associated with excretion. In Norway, they are
mostly expressions connected with the devil, and in Roman Catholic culture,
they are words essentially associated with religion.
In traditional Africa, they include words for sex and parts of the body, words
for death, for marriage and kinship relations, certain birds’ and animals’ names,
etc. For example, in Ciluba, sex is referred to as mesu (eyes). In Wolof, the
lingua franca of Senegal, it is called kanam, which means “face”. The Wolof
expression “to chat up a girl” for example is translated as “to ask for a face”
(gnan kanam). As to death, several euphemistic expressions are used, especially
for announcing the death of a great person: “to disappear” in Ciluba; “to finish
one’s work” or “to sleep” in Wolof; “to go” or “to leave” in Lingala, etc. To
show respect, Africans address people, especially the elder ones, by using
euphemism. As an example, in Mandingo (West Africa), elder brothers and
sisters are respectively called Kollo and Diadia (elder brother, elder sister); not
by their names. Still for reasons of respect, Luba women call their husbands
“uncles”, “chiefs” or “dads”, and husbands call their wives Muina kuanyi (“the
owner of my house”) Mwa bana (“the mother of children”) or after the names of
their children e.g. Mwa Mbuyi (“mother of Mbuyi”).
Because of their power, taboo-words are frequently used as swearwords to
express hatred, antagonism, frustration, pain or surprise.
Taboo-words and words like them must be observed by all the members of
the society. Failure to do so can lead to punishment or public shame. But, where
possible, the use of such words can take place only in a restricted set of
The present paper is a descriptive study of laguu or lagacha, a linguistic
taboo in Oromo ethnic group (Ethiopia), which consists in avoiding mentioning
the names of persons who are relations by marriage. The study shows that
instead of using their respective proper names and those of their in-laws,
husband, wife and in-laws have recourse to euphemistic forms, most of which
are coinings. The study analyses the avoided taboo-words and shows the
mechanisms used for finding substitutes.
Two parts are included in this work. The first deals with the background or
sketchy information about the history, geography, cultural patterns and marriage
system of the Oromo tribe. As to the second, it treats laguu, i.e. when, how and
why to observe it; the types of names that are avoided; their substitutes and how
they are found; and finally the violation of the custom and subsequent sanctions.
The study paves the way for further studies, which might be carried out on
language use and culture within this tribe. We have used both written documents
and information by the academic Oromo informants.
1.1. THE OROMO PEOPLE
The Oromo, people originate from the Central part of present day Republic of
Ethiopia. They live in twelve out of the fourteen administrative regions of the
country, in North, South and West, and also in Kenya and in Somalia (Tesema,
1986). Demographically, they are said to be the most important tribal group of
Ethiopia comprising 40% of the population.
According to Baxter (1986), the Oromo are one of the most ancient and of
the first 23 widespread and culturally homogeneous people in Africa. Cattle
breeding, agriculture and hunting are their main economic activities. The
language, called Afaan Oromo, is a popular one and counts several dialects.
Although its speakers are more numerous than those of Amharic (a lingua franca
of Ethiopia), only few written documents exist in this language. Ritual
celebration, the system of adoption called Gudifacha, wedding ceremonies and
fertility of both soil and women are among the important cultural patterns.
1.2. MARRIAGE IN OROMO CULTURE
Marriage in Oromo culture is the responsibility of both the boy’s and the girl’s
families rather than being only that of two individuals. The girl is usually chosen
by the boy’s parents on the basis of her character and the honourability of her
family. Wealth on both sides can be one of the criteria, but not always. The age
usually varies between 10 and 14 for the girl and between 16 and 20 for the boy.
The contract is completed only after paying a dowry to the girl’s parents.
The nature of the dowry is different from one area to another; it consists of
money plus a domestic animal, either a cow or a few sheep. The period of full-
term engagement is from 2 to 3 years. During this period, the girl receives
instruction from mother, uncles’ and elder brothers’ wives, while the boy helps
the father in clearing, ploughing, planting or harvesting the crops or also in
helping with the father’s trade. After this period, both families then get ready for
the wedding celebration.
Virginity before marriage is highly valued for the girl and her parents;
otherwise her and her family’s reputation would be ruined at the wedding time.
After the wedding, the young man and the young girl finally realise their new
roles of husband and wife and of future parents.
1.3. THE PRESENT STUDY
Although taboo is a practice everywhere Oromo people are found, stress will be
placed in this paper on its use in Illubabor Administrative region (2). In addition,
the context will be that of marriage and only the sense of avoiding mentioning
proper names within this context will be examined.
2. TABOO OBSERVANCE AND USE OF EUPHEMISM
2.1. TABOO OBSERVANCE
Observance of laguu usually begins the day of engagement. Husband, wife and
relatives from both sides start avoiding mentioning the names of the different
persons involved in the marriage relationships. The main reason for observing
this custom is deferential: the wife explains to the others that the taboo-name is
now so respectable that she cannot mention it. Of course, the degree of
deference will vary from the husband and his parents downwards. This
constraint is binding on the wife forever, including after the husband’s death or
after divorce. In law courts for example, when complaining against their
husbands, wives usually refuse to tell the judges the names of the defendants for
2.2. NAMES AVOIDED AND SUBSTITUTION MECHANISMS
2.2.1. Names avoided by wife and her relatives
The fiancée or wife avoids mentioning not only the name of her fiancé or
husband but also the name(s) of the husband’s:
a) father, mother, step-father, step-mother(s), grand-father, grand-mother,
step-grand-father and step-grand-mother(s);
b) brother(s), sister(s), step-brother(s) and step-sister(s), regardless of age;
c) uncle(s), aunt(s), nephew(s) and niece(s), also regardless of age.
In other areas, for example in Arsi, the list of taboo-names is provided to the
wife four days after marriage by four elderly women.
Substitutes for the husband’s names:
Wives usually get round the problem of avoiding mentioning their husband’s
names by devising substitution mechanisms. Some possibilities are:
A) USE OF HONORIFIC PRONOUNS; E.G.
– isin: literally you, (plural); or honorific you (singular) used for address
Maal taatan isin?
What’s the matter with you?
– Isaan: literally they (plural); or honorific he (singular) used for reference:
B) USE OF DIFFERENT EXPRESSIONS WHICH INCLUDE:
– jaarsa ko/kiyya or jera ko/kiyya
my husband (in both address and reference)
– jerri ko/kiyya
my husband (in reference)
– jera kénna or jera kenna/keennaa
Our husband (in a polygamous situation in both address and reference)
– Warra ko or warra/kenna/keennaa
Head of my family, head of our family (in both address and reference)
C) USE OF ABBAA (FATHER OF) PLUS A CHILD’S PROPER NAME; E.G.
– Abbaa gammachu
gammachu’s father (where gammachu is male)
In this case the proper name used is not subject to laguu; in addition, it should
be the name of the first-born child. Before the birth of the first child, the
husband and the wife can select a proper name for an imaginary male child and
use it. An imaginary feminine name is never selected; the Oromos wish their
first-born to be a son. In the case of childlessness, the imaginary name adopted
will be maintained and if a female child is born a name can be improvised.
D) USE OF PHYSICAL AND CHARACTER TRAITS PLUS ABBAA, E.G.:
– Abbaa cabsaa
One who breaks his enemies
– Abbaa Dugumaa
The truthful one
– Abbaa kalbi
The cautious one
– Abbaa kaaru
The gap toothed one
E) USE OF ESTABLISHED CONVENTION CORRESPONDING TO THE
REAL NAME SUBJECT TO LAGUU; E.G.:
Usual substitute name Real name
Abbaa bulguu nagawo
The tough one Peace
Abbaa jiru dingaa
The busy one Amazing
F) USE OF PHYSICAL TRAIT OF THE HUSBAND’S HORSE PLUS ABBAA
Physical trait Name
Boora Abbaa Booraa
Brown Owner of a brown horse
Dümaa Abbaa Dümaa
Red Owner of a red horse
The use of derivatives from names under social taboo and of phonetically
similar sounds in identical or nearly identical environments as those in the
names under the taboo is prohibited. This brings the wife and her relatives under
great stress because even ordinary lexical items that have any such resemblances
to the name under taboo practice are also taboo. One example, which can be
cited, is the taboo-name Margaa which in turn derives from marga (grass). All
derivatives from this word and all the words with similar sound sequences
should be avoided due to laguu. Consequently, the following are also taboo-
sprout like grass
sprouted like grass
The word mar’kaa meaning “porridge” has the sound similar to /g/ of margaa in
the same environment; as a consequence, it is also avoided. Its derivatives
mar’kuu (he prepared porridge) and mar’kite (she prepared porridge) should not
be used either.
In addition to those innovative devices, there are others that serve to
circumvent these difficulties. Some examples are given in the following Table:
(1) Conventional devices (3):
Derivatives (or Related
words) to be avoided
Substitute for Column 2
Ba’daasaa (makes rich)
Birru (to earn money)
Ba’daasu (to make rich)
Dinsu (to cure)
Fullasu (to transfix)
Guddachu (to grow big)
Margu (to sprout)
Roobu (to rain)
Tufu (to spit)
Wayyaayu (to feel better)
Yaadu (to think)
(2) Innovative devices: they are varied depending on each wife’s taste. A
few examples are:
Name to be avoided
Derivatives (or Related
word also avoided)
Substitute for Column 2
gammadu (to be happy)
lammessu (to double)
tolu (to go well)
Talüla (clear water, truth)
Hák’ki /Soba miti
Dasitaa (Amharic for
‘kindi / ‘kindessu
(Amharic tindi for pair
‘turu ta?u (Amharic tiru
for good corrupted)
As can be seen, the mechanism used in order to find substitutes for the taboo-
words does not show any clear linguistic pattern. Several devices are used. The
phenomenon is even more complex in Arsi where the wife makes use of many
procedures, such as:
a) Use of /’s/ for the initial sound in the name
e.g. Name Substitute
Ba’daaso (enricher) Sa’daaso (nonsense word)
Duulaa (combat) ‘Suulaa (nonsense word)
Gadaa (Oromo system of government) ‘Sadaa (nonsense word)
Nagawoo (peace) ‘Sagawoo (nonsense word)
b) Use of initial syllable alteration with or without additional sound change.
e.g. Name Substitute
Bulbulaa (mixer) Soomulaa (nonsense)
Daddafoo (hurry) Soommafoo (nonsense)
Gobanaa (moon) Soomanna (nonsense)
c) Addition of initial sounds in rare cases
e.g. Name Substitute
Araarsoo (mediator) ‘Saraasoo (nonsense)
Elemaa (milker) ‘Selemaa (nonsense)
d) Use of synonyms:
e.g. Name Synonym
Duressaa (rich, male) Sooressaa (rich, male)
Durettii (rich, female) Soorettii (rich, female)
18.104.22.168. Substitutes used for the in-laws’ names
a) Substitutes used by the wife
In Illubabor, the wife calls her father-in-law and her mother-in-law respectively
Abbayyo and Dayyo/Daye. She uses the same form to address or refer to her
husband’s uncles and aunts. For the husband’s relatives other than his parents
she resorts to different devices, namely:
– abbaa (for men) and haa’da (for women) in combination with proper names
not subject to taboo. In the case of women, haa’da substitutes abbaa, the proper
name remaining unaltered.
e.g. :Abbaa Kaarru and Haa’da Kaarru.
– the extension of the terms essuma (maternal uncle), wasülaa (paternal uncle)
and adaadaa (aunt.)
b) Substitutes used by the wife’s relatives
(1) Addressing or referring to Sons-in-law
In addressing or referring to their sons-in-law, the wife’s parents say ilma ko
(my son) or Soddaa Ko (my son-in-law). The other relatives of the wife may or
may not follow her in their form of address or reference to her husband. Usually,
when they do not follow her, they improvise names.
(2) Addressing or referring to Husband’s parents
A wife’s parents address or refer to their son-in-law’s parents as Abbaa Soddaa
(father of our son-in-law) and Haa’da Soddaa (mother of our son-in-law). Other
relatives usually follow her example in addressing or referring to her husband’s
(3) Addressing or referring to Husband’s relatives other than his parents.
Usually, they either follow the example of the wife or coin appropriate names.
2.2.2. Husband and his relatives
22.214.171.124. Names a husband avoids
A husband does not have to avoid mentioning the name of his wife. But he
might be discreet the longer they live together. By discretion are meant such
things as improvising names or using the haa’da formula. For example, in his
wife’s old age, the husband usually refers to or addresses her as Haa’da manaa
ko (my wife), Haa’da so and so (mother of so and so), or Jaarti ko (my old
In the case of parents-in-law, however, he has to observe the custom strictly.
He addresses and refers to them as abbayyo (father-in-law) and dayyo/daye
(mother-in-law). With respect to the wife’s other relatives, the husband usually
observes the taboo custom in address but uses his discretion in reference.
126.96.36.199. Names the husband’s parents avoid
The husband’s parents can only refer to or address their daughters in-law by
conventionally established names or improvisations as indicated in the following
1st born Son’s wife
2nd born Son’s wife
3rd born Son’s wife
Toltu Ba’daatu(improvisation is also
Kosi/Beektu/Hortu(improvisation is also
1st born Son’s wife
2nd born Son’s wife
1st wife: Sooretti Guddo (Sooretti Senior)
2nd wife: Sooretti Tinno or Beektu or
improvisation (Sooretti junior)
3rd, 4th, etc. wife: improvisation
1st wife: improvisation
2nd wife: improvisation
3rd wife: improvisation
Improvisations are usually made in connection with either the commemoration
of an event or an expression of a wish. For example:
– Roodbu (She who is married in the rainy season)
– Obse (She who causes the husband to forget the death or desertion of his
former wife or close relative).
– Ba’daatu (She who brings prosperity to the husband and his family)
– Hortu (She who is fertile) meaning that the husband has no children by an
earlier marriage or wishes that his wife is fertile.
188.8.131.52. Interparental address and reference
In Illubabor, the male parents address and refer to each other as Abbaa Soddaa
whereas the female parents address and refer to each other as Haa’da Soddaa.
3. TABOO VIOLATION AND SANCTIONS
People in Oromo culture are especially careful not to violate the custom because
it is believed that a misfortune would happen to them. Wives would give birth to
children with a scaly skin disease, cause the death of the husband or endanger
the agricultural production, hunting or fishing. The principal victim of taboo
violation is not necessarily the disobedient himself.
Violations of taboo are very rare. When they occur, it is usually in reference
and not in address, more by accident than by a deliberate act of non-conformity
to this social norm. A few cases only are accepted in Africa. Some example are:
In some tribes of Central Africa mothers of twins are allowed to utter all sorts of
words and expressions in front of any person, especially during traditional
ceremonies. Children in West Africa do whatever they like during the initiation
ceremonies. They can ask a girl to show them her sex, show her their own
genital organs or even attempt to rape her. In the Wolof culture, a wedding
ceremony called khakhar is organised when the bride joins her husband. During
khakhar, people, generally women, are allowed to insult or beat the wife and her
relatives, use shocking terms, sing horrible songs, etc.
If violation occurs by accident, they will literally spit it out, thus
symbolically atoning for the impropriety. In presence of the husband, violation,
which is regarded as a wanton insult, can result in physical violence or even in
As a pattern of human behaviour, language taboo in marriage context is well
observed among the Oromo people. Husband, wife and their parents have
recourse to several devices in order to find or even to create the substitutes.
Currently, the custom seems to be on the decline particularly in the cities and
towns due to the conditions of accelerated economic and social contacts and
changes. In rural areas, however, it is still intact although it is likely that the
influence of the cities would have their effects sooner or later. The germs of
laguu dissolution are already embedded in the thoughts of few individuals who
consider it a disposable inconvenience or social encumbrance. Of course, if
similar patterns are widely observable among the other ethnic groups of Ethiopia
and elsewhere, it may be a feature of considerable significance worth not only of
the ethnolinguist’s attention, but also of the sociologist’s and the
(1) The term Oromo has been commonly preferred and used instead of Galla
(2) A few examples, in passing, refer to laguu practice by Arsi women (central
(3) Long vowel in final position indicates use in reference; in address the vowel
is pronounced short.
e.g. Ba’daasaa barbaadu. (They are looking for Badaasa.)
Ba’daasa essa deemta? (Badaasa, where are you going?)
Baxter, P.T.W. 1986.
The Present State of Oromo studies: a Resume. Bulletin des Etudes
Africaines de l’Inalco, 6 (11) : 53-82.
Tesema, T. 1986.
The Political Economy of Western Central Ethiopia: From the Mid
16th to the Early 20th Centuries. Ph. D. Dissertation, Michigan State
Trudgill, P. 1986.
Sociolinguistics. An Introduction to Language and Society.
Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Appendix. Pronunciation key to Oromo words used.
1. Single sounds
Ch as in English “chair”
C glottalised palatal stop
‘d glottalised alveolar stop
‘n as in Spanish “senior”
‘p glottalised labial stop
‘s as in English “she”
‘t glottalised dental stop
? glottalised stop
2. Double consonants represent consonant gemination
e.g baru (learn) barru (hand palm)
3. Double vowels stand for long vowels
e.g. boru (early in the morning) booru (muddy water)
Oromo folk literature, language, culture, history (Ethiopia) — part 1 of 2The
Folk-Literature of the Galla of Southern Abyssinia
Part 1 of 2
by Enrico Cerulli, Ph.D., member of the Societa Africana d’Italia and the
Societa Geografica Italiana, late scholar of the R. Istituto Orientale di Napoli
Primary source for folk tales, history, legends, and culture of the Galla/Oromo
people, the majority cultural group in Ethiopia. The texts are presented in the
original Oromo, with translations and detailed notes and explanations. (I input
this entire book by hand to make it available to the public.)
Entered by hand by Richard Seltzer (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.samizdat.com) from
Harvard African Studies, Volume III, Varia Africana III, editors E.A. Hooton and
Natica I. Bates, Assistant Editor Ruth Otis Sawtell, Published by The African
Department of the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 1922
This edition Copyright © 2003 Richard Seltzer. Permission is granted to make and
distribute complete verbatim electronic copies of this item for non-commercial
purposes provided the copyright information and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies. All other rights reserved. Please contact us first if
you are interested in making copies for commercial purposes,
email@example.com Comments welcome.
Cerulli used the term “Galla” to designate the people that now call themselves
“Oromo.” He also used a complex phonetic alphabet with multiple accent marks to
render Galla/Oromo words. Because I have no way to represent those complex
accents in HTML, this electronic version omits all accents.
I’ve also changed the footnote numbers to adjust for the needs of the Web
format, with footnotes clustered at the ends of chapters rather than appearing
at the bottom of each page.
You can view the first 12 pages in Acrobat (.pdf) format, including the section
where the author explains his system of phonetics, with all the original accents
marks at www.samizdat.com/cerulli1-12.pdf For converting those files to .pdf,
thanks very much to Seyoum Hameso, editor of The Sidama Concern and author of
several books on Africa and Ethiopia www.sidamaconcern.com
This book is presented in two documents, the first of which includes all the
Songs. All parts of the books are accessible from the links in the table of
You can also get this book on CD ROM, together with dozens of related books. See
http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/africa.html for the complete table of contents
of that CD.
Richard Seltzer firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents
Phonetic Value of the Characters
Songs on Historical Subjects
The Independent Galla States
The Conquest of the Galla Kingdoms by Menilek II
The Italo-Abyssinian War (1896)
War and Hunting Songs
Festive and Religious Songs
Texts on Historical Subjects
The Chronicle of the Guma Kingdom
The Holy War of Hassan Ingamo
The Death of Captain Bottego
Texts on Ethnological Subjects
The Rites of Initiation
The Investiture of Abba Bokku
Texts of Magic and Prophetic Literature
Humorous Prose (Hasa)
The Watta: a Low Caste of Hunters
Almost all of the texts printed in this article are composed in the dialects of
the Macca Galla; and particularly in those of the northeastern Macca groups:
Lieqa, Limmu, Guma. The Galla apply the name Macca to their tribes living in the
districts beyond the Gibie River; that is, the five independent Galla kingdoms
of Guma, Gomma, Gimma, Giera, and Limmu; the Ilu, the Nonno, and the five Lieqa
tribes. In the present Galla language, the word macca means both “company of
soldiers” and “people.” Thus, with a change in sense analogous to the Amharic
saw, “man,” in the phrase ya-saw agar, “land of men,” i.e. “foreign country,”
and to the Arabic biladu ‘nnasi, which has the same meaning, macca, “people”
also signifies” stranger,” “enemy.” Therefore the Galla living beyond the Gibie
are called Macca Gamati, “the people of the other bank,” by the Tulama of Shoa.
I do not intend to give in the following notes a definite, scientific
classification of the Galla, dialects, but by coordinating and publishing the
material collected from natives during my researches, and by a careful analysis
of the work already accomplished by travellers and missionaries, I hope to lay a
foundation for future attempts to classify, within each group of dialects, the
sub-dialects today unknown. As a result of such classification, I think the
philologists will distinguish two large groups of Galla dialects, the Northern
Galla and the Southern Galla.
Northern Galla, that is, the Galla spoken in Abyssinia, is divided into three
groups of dialects:
I. Macca dialects, corresponding to the dialect called by Tutscheck, “the
Galla of the Gogab River.” Among the Macca dialects, I distinguish the
northeastern group, — Limmu, Guma, Lieqa, Nonno, — and the southwestern group
of which the principal dialect is spoken in Gimma Abba Gifar. The difference
between these sub-groups consists principally in phonetic and lexicological
peculiarities, e.g. the dialect of Gimma preserves the consonantal diphthongs,
l, r. [see Phonetic Value of the Characters]
II. Tulama dialects spoken in Shoa, with dialectal peculiarities by the
Abbiccu-Galan and Salahe tribes. In addition to lexicological differences and
the greater influence of Amharic vocabularies, the Tu1ama dialects also differ
grammatically from the Macca, e.g. in Tulama the pronominal suffix of the
first person singular is -kiya; in Macca -ko. The Tulama dialects have two
sets of pronominal suffixes: masculine, -lciya, -k~ feminine, -tiya, .tie,
etc. The Macca dialects show no difference between the masculine and feminine
gender of the pronominal suffix.
III. Borana or Eastern Galla dialects. (Bor-ana is derived form the root bor,
“east.”) The dialects of the Galla living in the neighborhood of Harar, that
of the Ittu, the Arussi, and other Galla groups as far as the great lakes,
belong to the Borana group. Loransiyos tells me that the Amara Burgi living in
the country near the southern bank of Lake Regina Margherita is a Galla
group.1 Burgi, he says, is the Galla pronunciation of the Amharic word birz,
“honeyed water,” the favorite drink of these Galla. Other Borana groups live
by the streams of Canal Gudda, Canal Diggo, Doria, and Dawa, as far as the
Somali countries near Lugh. A few miles from Dolo, at the frontier of Italian
Somaliland, the maps bear Galla names, e.g., Malka Rie e, “the ford of the
she-goat”2; Mata nama fakkate, i.e. “the hill resembling the head of a man.”3
These dialects differ considerably from the Macca dialects, but less form the
Tulama, so Loransiyos tells me. The songs published in this article
considering the war between the Arussi Galla and Ras Dargie were chanted by
the Arussi. For this reason, I hesitated to publish them; but Galla original
texts are still so scarce, and the three songs concern historical events so
little known, that I have decided to include them, especially because the
poetical form, restricted by the metre, assures, I think, the Arussi text
against the variations which would probably be introduced by a native who was
not an Arussi.
The Wallo Galla, according to Loransiyos, are probably Borana. Cecchi has
stated4 that, according to Galla tradition, the Wallo are Arussi who emigrated
from their native country. Loransiyos tells me that the dialect of the Wallo
resembles the dialect of the Ittu, but as I have not collected texts of the
Wallo dialects, I cannot vouch for this information. Loransiyos adds that among
the seven Wallo tribes (called by the Amara sabat Wallo biet, “the seven Wallo
houses”), the Warra Himano speak more Amharic than Galla; the Warra Babbo and
the Warra Qallu speak Galla; the others, Amharic mixed with Galla; and the
tribes near Aussa, Galla mixed with Dankali.5
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The second large group of Galla dialects is the Southern Galla spoken by the
tribes living on the banks of the Tana River in British East Africa, known as
Bararetta and Kofira Galla. Pratorius6 has noted the Bararetta dialectic
peculiarity of the apocope in the substantives; but from the Gospels of St. John
and Matthew translated into Bararetta by the missionaries of the United
Methodist Free Churches,7 from the publications of Fischer,8 and Miss Alice
Werner,9 and from a manuscript dictionary by the Rev. Mr. Howe, there appear a
long series of grammatical and lexicological peculiarities. Southern Galla is
closely allied to Eastern Galla, and has great linguistic importance on account
of the interesting glottological phenomena which occur in it, especially the
influence of the accent on the final vowel. It is therefore desirable that
Southern Galla should be studied further, and preferably in relation to Northern
I have collected the following Galla texts from four sources:
1. Ligg Hayla Maryam Gugsa Dargie, son of Ras Dargie, the uncle of Negus Menilek
II. He was born in Salalie, a district of Tulama Galla. AS he came to Europe
many years ago, he remembers few Galla songs, but I obtained from him strophe
79, and some others not published here.
2. Aga Mohammed Sa’id, born in Hagalo (Limmu) district of Macca Galla. He was
taken from his native land and sold by slave merchants into Eritrea, the country
of the Assaorta Saho. Freed form slavery, he enlisted in the Italian colonial
army and during the war in 1911-12 fought in Libya against the Arabo-Turks. As
there are many natives of Galla countries, for the most part freed slaves, in
the native battalions of Eritrea, it was again possible for Aga Mohammed to
speak his native language. I obtained from him six strophes in the dialects of
the northeastern Macca: the strophes 14, 65, 67, 68, 78, 141.
3. Loransiyos Walda Iyasus, born in the country of the Abbiccu Galla (Shoa).
From him I have collected nearly all the texts in this volume. He is an old man,
a reliable, valuable, and perhaps unique source of information concerning the
Galla countries. He knows de visu places and personages; and during his
adventurous life, he has participated in the principal historical events of
those countries for the last thirty years. He was taken by his parents to Lieqa
Naqamte and remained there during his youth. Soldier in the army of Daggac
Moroda and afterwards of Daggac Kumsa (son of Moroda), he fought in all the wars
against the enemies of Lieqa Naqamte. Then he went to Lieqa Qiellem and entered
the army of Daggac Gote; therefore he fought in 1897 in the combat in which
Captain Bottego was killed, and Lieutenant Vannutelli and Lieutenant Citerni
were taken prisoners; all three were members of the expedition sent into
Abyssinia by the Royal Italian Geographical Society. Loransiyos then enrolled
himself in the army of Daggac Hayle Guddisa, brother of Ras Makonnen, and chief
of the Nonno and Sulu Galla; he was afterwards chosen by the chief to accompany
Qanazmac Abba Nabro on a great expedition led by the Qanazmac to hunt elephants.
This expedition crossed all the countries beyond the Gibie, and advanced as far
as the Galla around LAke Rudolph. Returning from this hunt, he quitted Daggac
Hayle, passed through the Sanqilla countries inhabited by the Berta to the
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and remained there a few months, fighting with the
Egyptian soldiers against Ali Dinar, the Sultan of Darfur. Finally, he enlisted
in the Italian colonial army and fought in Libya. He speaks the dialect of the
Lieqa Galla (northeastern Macca) and while he knows the Macca dialects well, on
account of the vicissitudes of his life, he remembers very little of the dialect
of Shoa (Tulama-Galla). He lives today at Keren in Eritrea. It would be well
worth while to approach him again to collect other notes and especially, the end
of the “Chronicle of Guma” (Prose, text 1).
As I have already said, I have obtained from Loransiyos all the historical songs
and the notes concerning them (1-64), except songs 14 and 33; many of the war
songs, love songs, nuptial, and religious songs, and the second song of the
caravans. He also helped me to translate the songs of The Galla Spelling Book
and gave me all the prose texts, and the proverbs. The proverbs and the riddles
of The Galla Spelling Book have also been translated with Loransiyos’s aid.
4. Other texts I have gathered from a strange little book published in 1894
under two titles; a title in English, The Galla Spelling Book by Onesimos Nesib,
a native Galla, printed at the Swedish Mission Press in Moncullo near Massowah,
1894; and a title in Galla written in Ethiopic characters, which I transcribe
literally, Glaqaba barsisa innis macafa dubbisu barsisanun afan oromotti, Warra
biya oromo kara Waqayo agarsisudaf walitti qabani cafani Awag Onesimos kan
gedamuf Ganon Aster kan gedamuf Ganon Aster kan gedamtu, Talfame Mutuwa bukke
isagiru ganda Monkullotti goftakena Yasus Kristos erga dalate bode wagga kuma
tokko qibba sadetif sagaltami afruritti. This mans: “The beginning of teaching;
that is, a book of conversation for those who study the language of the Galla.
To show the natives of Galla countries the way to God; collected and printed
(this book) by Awag Onesimos and Ganon Aster. Made in the village Monkullo at
the side of Massaua, 1894 years after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice that in the English title Gaon Aster is not named as author of the book.
This small book, the substance of which was till now unknown, appears to the
reader to have been written purposely to discredit the Swedish Mission. “To
show the natives of Galla countries the way to God,” there are collected love
songs, war songs, one of the tribal songs, and finally, the songs of the
religious ceremonies of Galla paganism (Wadaga), and a series of songs in honor
of Atete, the goddess of fecundity, worshipped by the Oromo. The collection, of
course, is most interesting; for little is known in Europe concerning Galla
paganism. Being th first collection of pagan religious songs printed and
circulated in Galla countries, without any explanation of customs, beliefs, and
local historical events familiar to the Galla, but unknown to Europeans, the
contents were difficult to interpret; I could not have translated it without the
aid of Loransiyos. The texts published in The Galla Spelling Book (the whole
volume except the aforesaid title in English, is in Galla) are in the Macca
dialect with dialectal characteristics of Limmu, the native country of Onesimos
Nesib. The author or authors write the Galla in Ethoipic characters; therefore,
they are obliged to use a very complicated transcription to express the sounds
of the Galla language with the letters of the Ethiopic alphabet which express
very imperfectly even the sounds of the Ethiopic language. This transcription is
further complicated because the authors have sometimes attempted to mark the
accent of the words. There is no special sign for this in the Ethiopic alphabet;
therefore, they mark the accented vowel long, even when it is short. Moreover,
the system of transcription is not explained in the book; the authors do not
indicate what Galla sounds correspond in their system to this or that Ethoipic
letter. Therefore, reading this small book is very like deciphering a secret
writing, and it is evident why, for twenty-five years after its publication, its
substance remained unknown, and the Swedish Mission fell into the aforesaid
error. I have transcribed the songs of the Galla Spelling Book in the usual
transcription, following the pronunciation of Loransiyos to indicate the accent
and the double consonants. When Loransiyos gives me variants, I add them; when
he tells me that the version of The Galla Spelling Book is incorrect, I indicate
both versions. The texts of The Galla Spelling Book translated in this volume
are song 33 among the historical songs; many of the war, hunting, and religious
songs, the first song of the caravans, several of the love and nuptial songs,
the pastoral songs, and the cradle songs, proverbs 1-89, and riddles 1-9.
Loransiyos knows by heart several verses of songs 99 and 126.
In view of the present condition of Galla studies in Europe, I hope that the
following texts are not without interest, whatever defects may be found among
them. The texts, translated literally as far as possible, are preceded by the
notes which I have collected from the natives on the subject of the song, and
followed by some explanation in order to make possible the reading of this book
by the student who is not a specialist in Galla linguistics and ethnology. The
history of the independent Galla states, so vague and lacking in documents till
now, is the subject of the first group of songs. I beg the reader to note
particularly songs 8-27 concerning the religious wars between the pagan Galla
and the Islamized Galla tribes beyond the Gibie. The songs of the wars between
the Galla and the Amara during the conquest of the Galla lands begun and
finished by Menilek II, contain a short biography of Ras Gobana; and then the
songs of the Italo-Ethiopic war a new proof of the great losses of the
Abyssinians in the battle of Adua.10
I should like to add some explanatory notes on peculiarities in grammar and
vocabulary of the dialect in which the texts were composed; but since Galla is
almost unknown from the scientific point of view, I do not possess a Galla
lexicon which I consider authoritative, to which I can refer the peculiarities
of the songs; nor is the grammatical essay by Pratorius a sound basis for
comparison of dialectical peculiarities. A systematic exposition of the grammar
of the Macca Galla dialect and the glossary of the texts contained in this
volume will be the subject of a later work of min, yo Waqayo nuf gede.
It is my duty to thank those who have encouraged my studies or made possible the
publication of this work: in Italy, Professor F. Gallina, professor of Amharic
and Tigritian languages at the Royal Oriental Institute of Naples, my eminent
teacher, to whom I am happy to express here my most respectful gratitude.
Senator I. Guidi, professor of Semitic Philology, Languages, and History of
Abyssinia in the Royal University of Rome; Senator Y. D’Andrea, President of the
Italian Africa Society; and in England, Miss Alice Werner, lecturer on Swahili
and Bantu languages at the School of Oriental Studies in London.
1 It appears to me that this information given me by Loransiyos is not exact.
Dr. Conti Rossini has published from the unedited notes of Captain Bottego one
hundred words of the language spoken in Amara Burgi (cf. Carlo Conti Rossini, I
Bambala di Amara Burgi ed il loro linguaggio; Studdii su populazioni
dell’Etiopia, vol. 6). The natives of Amara Burgi call themselves Bambala. Dr.
Conti Rossini examining this material and comparing it with allied languages,
thus concludes his essay: “If the notes of Captain Bottego show us the real
character of the language spoken by the Bambala of Amara Burgi, my examination
leads to these conclusions: 1. The Bambala grammar is Galla grammar, for at
least, largely influenced by the Galla grammar; 2. On the contrary, the Bambala
vocabulary for the most part is Sidama; 3. The Sidama language spoken by the
Bambala does not belong to the southern Sidama group, i.e., the Ometi dialects,
Dawro, Walamo, etc., but to the eastern Sidama, i.e., it is allied with Hadiya
However, a recent examination of Captain Bottego’s material in comparison with
the result of my researches on the Galla dialects, shows other Galla Lehnworter
among the Bambala words published by Dr. Conti Rossini, e.g. Captain Bottego
translates mardna, marra, “to go” (I agree with the hypothesis of Conti Rossini
that these words are not infinitives, but first person plural of the imperfect).
The word is certainly derived from the Galla root mar (in Macca dialects as in
southern Galla, “surround”, “go round”, “walk about”). Is the Somali, mar, “to
pass”, derived from the same Kushitic root, or is it the Arabic marra? Moreover,
the Bambala dansa, “fine” = southern Galla dansa, “good”; yera, “ugly” is
perhaps the Galla ydra, “lame” (cf. Antonio Cecchi, Da Zeila alle frontiere del
Caffa, vol. 3, p. 267). Bambala mina, “hut”, is certainly the Galla mana (but
not mana [different accent] as Dr. Conti Rossini says. The connection between
the eastern Sidama words, min, mine, and the Galla mana is demonstrated by the
Somali min. Thus lukkanco, “hen,” (perhaps the real meaning of the word is
“fowl”), appears to be derived from the Borana Galla lukku, (southern Galla,
lukku, Somali in Harar, luki). Bambala aju, “mother” is the Galla ayo; Bambala
inanada does not mean “fear” but “he is afraid,” and is derived from the Galla
root na, “to frighten” (cf. Somali, na, “pain,” “trouble”, “weariness”),
reflexive form nad, “to be afraid.” Bambala inagata, “to sell”, is allied, I
think, with the Somali (Marrehan dialect) gad, “to sell.” Therefore, out of one
hundred words selected by Captain Bottego, about thirty are derived from Galla
roots. The eastern Sidama roots of Bambala are about twenty, more numerous than
the southern and western Sidama roots, of which there are five or six. Among the
personal names collected by Bottego, beside those already noted by Dr. Conti
Rossini, the following nouns are certainly Galla; bitacco, the “left-handed,”
burge, dambala (is dambala a personal name? In Galla, dambala means “rising in
waves,” and is the Galla name for Lake Regina Margherita); dargo (“the fine
young man”), gobe, godana, guya (more frequently guydtu; it means “(born) by
day”); gilo is perhaps the following gilo, iddo, kolbe, wacce, wayu, yaya (which
is not connected with the ARabic Yahya, “John”, as Conti Rossini supposed, but
is the Galla yaya, “wolf”). Others maybe discovered after collecting further
examples of the Galla onomasticon.
All this proves, I think, the extensive Galla influence on the Bambala
vocabulary; however I will refer to the statement made by Vannutelli and Citerni
in their account of Captain Bottego’s expedition (Vanutelli e Citerni, L’Omo,
Milano, 1899, p. 184) that almost all the Bambala of Amara Bugi also speak
Borana Galla. Loransiyos’s mistake may have arisen in this way, and it seems to
me also that the many Galla elements in the words collected by Bottego are
probably derived from the same source; on the southern frontier of the Amara
Burgi there are certainly Galla tribes. And in addition to the information of
travellers, the toponomy of this country is Galla: Bisan, Gurraca, Gubba,
Ballesa, Dada, Bulti Iddo, Glana Sagan, etc. Loransiyos adds that he has heard
in Amara Burgi a legendary genealogy of the Galla living around Burgi. According
to this genealogy, these Galla are descended form the Karrayu, the well-known
eastern Galla tribe near Harar.
2. Malka Rie e at 4o latitude North, 42o East Greenwich.
3. West of Malka Rie e.
4. Antonio Cecchi, Da Zeila alle frontiere del Caffa, Roma, 1886, vol. 1, p. 513
5. Cf. Lincoln De Castro, Nella terra dei negus, Milano, 1915, vol. 2, p. 333.
This confirms the statement of Loransiyos.
6. Franz Pratorius, Zur Grammatik der Galla Sprache, Berlin, 1893.
7. Gura Dansa ak Yohannes barese, afan oromati, printed by the British and
Foreign Bible Society for the United Methodist Free Churches’ East African
Mission (without date); Gur Dansa ak Mattayos barese, London, printed for the
British and Foreign Bible Society, 1904.
8. G.A. Fischer, ‘Die Sprache des sud-Galla Land,’ (Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie,
Berlin, 1878, vol. 10, pp. 11-144.
9. A. Werner, ‘The Galla of the East Africa Protectorate,’ (Journal of the
British African Society, vol. 12, no. 50, and vol. 13, no. 51; ‘A Galla ritual
prayer,’ (Man, vol. 14, p. 129-131). Cf. E. Cerulli, ‘I Galla dell’Africa
Orientale inglese,’ (Rivista Coloniale, Anno 12, November, 1914). This is a
review of Miss Werner’s writings.
10. E. Cerulli, “Canti popolari amarici,” (Rendiconti della R. Accademia dei
Lincei. Classe di scienze morali, storiche, filosofiche, vol. 25, part 6, Roma,
1916, pp 13-14).
Phonetic Value of the Characters11
[Note -- in this section I describe with words the notation used by the author,
since I am unable to duplicate the markings that he used. Throughout the rest of
the book, I simply ignore such markings, since this kind of description would be
too tedious to be readable. Richard Seltzer]
I have employed the following phonetic alphabet to designate the sounds of the
labials, p, b, p [dot over p]
coronals: t, d
precacuminals: t [mark below t]
cacuminals: d [mark below d]
perpalatals: g [v over g], c [v over c], c [v over c and mark below it
mediopalatals: k, g
laryngals: ‘, h
palatals: s [v over s]
liquids: r, l, r [dot below r], l
palatals: n [dash over n]
The consonants q, p [dot over p], t [mark below t], d [mark below d], c (v over
c and mark below it] are not plsives in the most rigorous sense of this phonetic
classification; similarly l [mark below l], r [mark below r] cannot be called
“sonants.” They belong to the sound-group which has been thus described by
Sievers:12 “After the formation of the closing of the mouth, the communication
between the mouth cavity and the lungs is interrupted by an energetic closing of
the vocal chords.” W. Schmidt13 justly remarks that there are two kinds of
sounds with guttural occlusion; the explosion of the closure of the glottis may
occur either before or simultaneously with the closure of the mouth. If the
explosion of the closure of the glottis occurs after the explosion of the
closure of the mouth, the sound which is formed is properly a consonantal
diphthong, i.e. p [dot over p], t [mark under t], d’ [mark under d]14, q’15.
Therefore Meinhof16 transcribes the Galla sound d [mark below d] as ‘d. If both
plosives occur at the same time, the sound is single and Schmidt transcribes it
with an apostrophe on the consonant, e.g. ‘k, ‘t, ‘p.
In Galla the plosives always occur simultaneously except in the following cases:
d [mark under d] between two vowels, e.g. badana, pronounce bad’ ana; p [dot
over p] in every case; l [mark under l], r [dot under r], in those dialects
which have kept these sounds. When q is followed by i or ie [the fifth class of
the Ethiopic alphabet) the basis of articulation is pushed forward toward the
prepalate. Therefore, in this case, the closure of the mouth does not occur in
the post-palate but in the middle palate; the closure is made by the motion of
the tongue’s middle dorsal region. When thus pronounced, it is not followed by
or joined with closure of the glottis. The same forward tendency in the closure
of the mouth occurs in the sounds k, g, when they are followed by ie. I have not
used special signs to transcribe these modifications of the sounds q, k, g, in
order that my phonetic alphabet may be as simple as possible. There is no
vestige in the northeastern Macca dialects of the consonants l [mark under l], r
[dot under r] except the words hara, “today,” mariman, “entrails,” bala,
“broad”. Loransiyos pronounces l [mark under l] and r [mark under r] only in
these words; he tells me that both sounds have been retained in the dialect
spoken in Gimma Abba Gifar. Therefore he calls the Gimma Galla, “those who speak
with bound tongue.”
The vowels used in this dialect in the following texts are: a, a [with dash
over] a [with 2 dots over], a [with o over], ie [with dash over the e, e [with
mark below], e [with dashes above and below], i [with v over], i, i [with dash
over, o, o [with dash over], o [with cedila under], o [with dash over, u [with u
over], uo [with dashes over each]; e [with cedila under], o [with cedila under]
are closed e and o of the Italian alphabet. the other vowels have the same value
as in the usual transcription of the Semitic languages.
I have transcribed all the changes occasioned by the contact of a final sound
and an initial sound of two words with the sign [upsidedown u] placed between
the words, e.g., harka irbora = harka [upsidedown u] rbora. In Galla the accent
of the word in a phrase is different from the accent of the isolated word; I
have indicated in the following texts the accent of the word as I heard it in
11. The Editors wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to Mr. G.P. Lestrade of
Harard University for his assistance in reading this portion of the manuscaript.
12. Eduard Sievers, Grundzuge der Phonetik, Leipzig, 1901.
13. W. Schmidt, “Die Sprachlaute und ihre Darstellung in einem allgemeinen
linguistischen Alphabet,’ (Antropos, Wien, 1907, vol. 2, p. 896
14. Pratorius, op. cit., p. 26
15. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
16. Carl Meinhoff, Die Sprachen der Hamiten, Hamburg, 1912.
Songs on Historical Subjects
A) The Independent Galla States.
The king of Guma, Abba Dula Abba Gubir, fought against Gimma Abba Gifar three
times during his reign. First Gimma won, but the second time Abba Gubir defeated
the army of Tullu Abba Gifar II, entered the capital of his enemy’s kingdom and
sacked it, although the kings of Limmu and Gomma rushed to help their ally, Abba
Gifar. The date of this war (according to Loransiyos) was probably about
1885-1886. Concerning it, a Guma minstrel sang:
Guma bba dula mimitta
Onco Guca maratta da
Gimma bba Gifar marqa garbutti
gimmata dufe qidamie ndumti
1 Guma of the Abba Dula is pepper.
2 Onco Gilca is furious
3 Gimma of Abba Gifar is porridge of barley
4 He [Abba Gubir’ came [to Gimma] Friday; Saturday, he has not yet finished
Notes. Abba Dula is the title of the Guma kings (literally, “lord of the
expedition”). King Abba Gubir is called, according to the Galla custom, by the
name of his famous ancestor, Onco Gilca. Abba Gifar was the war-name of Tullu,
the king of Gimma. There is a custom among the Galla and the Amara of taking a
war-title the name of horses. Thus Abba Gifar means the “lord of the dapple
grey horse.” The day of the victorious entry into Gimma was Friday (v. 4).
“Porridge of barley,” food of the poor, symbolizes the want of bravery in Gima’s
army, opposed to the pepper, i.e., the audacity of Guma’s soldiers.
In this victorious expedition against Gimma, Abba Gubir took prisoner Genne
Alima, sister of King Abba Gifar. Alima was carried off to Guma and confined in
the royal residence; but her husband, Nagau Garbi, chief of Lieqa Billo, entered
Guma, skillfully disguised, assuming the ironically threatening pseudonym, “Bor
Alba” (“tomorrow, colic,” i.e., “tomorrow, my enemies shall be afraid”). He
advanced by night to the royal residence, and killed the sentries by thrusts of
his spear, including the famous warrior Dilbo, and Muhammed Yasi, son of Dilbo.
Thus Nagau rescued his bride, and after adorning his horse with the spoils of
his dead enemies, fled with Genne Alima toward Gimma. Abba Gubir himself
pursued the fugitives; and, running more swiftly than his soldiers, he passed
his escort and was unexpectedly assailed by Nagau Garbi. The king of Guma,
seeing that he was far from his soldiers, alone, face to face with his enemy,
fled, and Nagau Garbi, as a triumphant proof of the king’s flight, cut off the
tail of Abba Gubir’s horse and brought it to Gimma. Thereafter, he sang this
doba Babi Gilo
Nagdu Abba Gifar
gafgaf torba gese
Abbdf ilma gese
akkskayu habna 5
ginfu lafa riebe
tiepaf harre wami
Gimma tola rgati
bor ifian gimmata
Goridda si nata 10
ganaa gawe Onco
sura mura Garbi
sura na murate 15
1 The hero [son] of Garbi [son] of Gilo,
2 Nagu [brother-in-law] of Abba Gifar
3 every day kills seven [warriors]
4 He killed the father [Dilbo] and the son [Muhammed Yasi],
5 and, as the grandfather remained [yet living],
6 he struck the ground with the haft of the spear.
7 Bring [literally, call] the girths for the charger and the ass!
8 Send the presents [i.e., the spoils] to Gimma!
9 The day after tomorrow, Friday,
10 Goridda will eat you [O Abba Gubir!]
11 The builders [construct] the ceiling.
12 From the village of Gawe Onco,
13 I will arise and go forth.
14 The Tail-cutter Garbi
15 has cut of the tail for me!
16 Tell your bride [O Abba Gubir!]
Notes. Abba Goridda (v. 10) was the war-name of Nagau Garbi (literally, “lord of
Goridda”; Goridda was his horse). In verses 11-15 Garbi says: “The builders of
Guma construct the ceiling of their huts (where the Galla hang their spears).
Guma has warriors and spears, nevertheless I came in and went out.” Nagau Garbi
fought against the Italians in 1896 and died in the battle of Adua. His father
was Garbi Gilo.17
At the court of Tuliu Abba Gifar at Gingo, hunting expeditions and Islamic
holidays followed closely on one another. Abba Gifar was considered a strict
Mussulman and his eldest son even more so. Gimma, already the heart of commerce
in the countries beyond the Gibie River, became also the center of Islamic
studies in these lands. Consequently, all the most celebrated Galla minstrels
gathered at the court of Abba Gifar to produce their songs in this literary and
commercial center. Several songs were chanted on the occasion of a challenge
between the Mussulman warrior, Tola Mamud, a famous elephant hunter, and
Qittiessa Gallo, governor of a province in the Gimma kingdom. Tola Mamud wagered
that he, alone, without a spear, could kill an elephant by sword thrusts in the
presence of the whole court of Gimma. The stake was Sardo, a horse presented to
Tola Mamud by Tucco Danno, the chief of Lieqa Horda (see song 15). After
accepting the stake, Qittiessa Gallo invited the court to ascent a hill, and
there they saw Tola Mamud assail and kill an elephant by his sword, although,
during the struggle, the elephant struck with his trunk and killed Sardo, the
horse at stake. Here is the victory song of Tola:
Qittiessa gade Gallo
korattu kka dira
ya oltu kka naddieni
qaqaro torba yabi
daltu galo ambacca 5
torbanu kufu cabi
arriedi natti kottu
mattari nan si hida
gafa mattarri ncitte
lubbunkie lafa litte 10
nitikie natti citte
Sando gannato Tucco
baessa Tute Danno
cisi-ka du a coqqo
duni dira akkana 15
Qittiessa intali Gallo
saba waya guttatte
na qabati, ya Qittiessa
kiella moti qabati
ya maggin garadi 20
hiryan durba Gingo
1 O Quittiessa, vile [son] of Gallo,
2 proud as a man
3 [but] living as the women,
4 go climb seven qaqaro trees!
5 O daughter of Gallo, the linon,
6 seven times fall down [from the trees] and break yourself!
7 Run! Come to me!
8 With the bindweed I will bind you.
9 When the bindweed was cut,
10 your heart sunk into the ground.
11 Your bride has resolved [to come] to me!
12 Sardo, the necklace of Tucco,
13 the fine (horse) of Tute Danno,
14 repose! 18
15 There is the dath of a man!
16 O, Qittiessa, girl [daughter] of Gallo.
17 The lie has filled the togas!
18 Seize me, O Qittiessa!
19 At the gate of the king, seize me!
20 O enemy of the servant maids,
21 friend of the girls of Gingo!
Notes. Note that in the whole sone, the feminine is used instead of the
masculine to epress the contempt of the singer for Qittiessa. Qaqaro (v. 4) is a
kind of gigantic sycamore growing in Kaffa and in the countries of Gimma nd
Garo, contiguous to Kaffa. Sardo, the horse at stake is called (v. 12) “the
necklace of Tucco,” his most precious gem. Tute (v. 13) is the diminutive of the
name Tucco. It is the Galla custom to use the diminutives of proper names in
boasting and war songs. Verse 14 means “your toga covers lies only,” i.e. you
are a liar! Verses 20-21 allude to the rumor that Qittiessa had much luck in his
gallant adventures at the court of Gimma.
The warrior Sone of the Lieqa Sibu tribe was challenged by Sima bba Dienta of
Guma, an officer of Abba Gubir. Here is the boasting song of Sima:
cira ciri gette
maf an cira cira?
Sima simi! gette
maf an Sima sima?
nienca nienca batu 5
marattu abba Dienta
Sima Kalle lienca
irra na darbata
gala na murata 10
maf an Sima sima?
1 “Weed the weed!” you said.
2 How can I weed the weed?
3 “Surpass Sima!” you said.
4 How can I surpass Sima?
5 The lion bringing a lion (‘s skin),
6 the furious (brother) of Abba Dienta,
7 sima (bringing) the cloak of lion’s skin.
8 The lightning (son) of Kue
9 pierces me above,
10 cuts me below.
11 How can I surpass Sima?
Notes. 1-2 are introductory verses, usual in Galla songs, forming a kind of
parallelism of sounds or images iwth the following verses of the song. Here, the
pun of the first verse, cira ciri is analogous to the pun of verses 3-4, Sima
simi. The name Sima means in Galla “he who surpasses”; thus the singer puns:
“How can I surpass him who surpasses?” Kue (v. 8) was the mother of Sima (see
song 109). Verse 10 alludes clearly to the Galla custom of cutting off the
genitals of captive warriors as war-spoils.
Sone answered the boasting-song of Sima with this song:
nama Sima simu
ani biekan himu
gara Sibutti mu
Sone mudi ribu
gara Sibutti mu 5
muca Buse Miggu
1 A man surpassing Sima,
2 I know him and I will say (his name).
3 I speak of Sibu,
4 of Sone whose waist is a rope.
5 I speak of Sibu,
6 of the child of Buse (son of Miggu.
7 His mother is Boge.
8 His father is Busani.
9 No one grows tired of looking at him.
Notes. In this song appears one of hte characterisitic features of boasting in
Galla war-songs, the enumeration of all the ancestors on both the father’s and
the mother’s side. (See also the farsa, songs 30-33). Sone was the son of Busani
(diminutive, Buse, cf. song 3), son of Miggu. His personal name was Gienda, but,
according to Galla custom, the women of his house did not pronounce his name,
and called him Sone, i.e. “gen.” Verse 4 alludes to the thinness of Sone, one of
the qualities most appreciated by the Galla.
On assailing Sima, Sone said:
gatana Buse Miggu
Giendatu cabbi robe
1 The thin (son) of Buse (son) of Miggu.
2 Gienda Rains (like) hail.
camsitu gala girti
1 The thorny thicket of Guma
2 camsitu is below.
Notes. The camsitu are sorcerers capable, according to Galla belief, of checking
rain by the fumes of burning aromatic grass. When it does not rain in the
country, and the tribal chief suspects that the drought has been occsioned by
the sorceries of the camsitu, he orders that they be arrested and buried to the
waist in holes dug for the purpose, and there they remain till the coming of the
rain. Similarly, the populations inhabiting the banks of the great rivers
(Gibie, Omo, Diddiessa) have recourse to the camsitu to restrain the river at
the time of floods.
After the conversion of the Galla kingdoms beyond the Gibie to Mohammedanism in
the years 1855-70,19 wars between these kingdoms were often occasioned by
religious pretexts which several times disguised the usual motives of
competition. The slight diffusion of Islamic culture and the survival of pagan
beliefs in the Islamism practiced by these peoples, resulted in giving little
evidence in those early times of a change of religion. But the Egyptian and
Sudanese merchants aided, says Loransiyos, by Khedive Ismail began to form local
centres of religious culture. The first among these centres as Gimma Abba Gifar
(see song 3). From these centres originated the first fanatics and the first
attmepts at rebellion. The first rebel was a warrior of Darra, a tribe in Shoa
near Salalie. He, according to the custom of these Galla Mussulmen, kept in
addition to his Mohammedan name Hasan, his pagan name Wadag. Hasan heading the
Darra (all converted to Islam) and choosing from the most famous Mussulmen of
these countries ten dervishes, as a kind of personal guard (perhaps an embryonic
zawiyah), began to fight Daggac Masasa Sayfu, sent against him by Menikek. After
defeating Masasa, he prepared to resist Ras Mika’el, sent by Emperor Johannes IV
to Darra. Ras Mika’el was defeated and obliged to take refue on Tullu Aylu, a
mountain near Darra, to escape from the cavalry of Hasan Wadag. Then a minstrel
sang this strophe in Amharic to honour Hasan:
Hasan Wadag Abba Kurara
gaddl saddada yihen hullu Amara
Babbatu zihon ba-nnatu ambacca
wardo yigatmal bicca la-bicca
b-abbatu Mumad ba-nnatu Fatma 5
tabanga bittakkuas zor ayilimma
1 Hasan Wadag Abba Kurara
2 sent into the abyss all these Amara.
3 By his father’s side, he (his father) is an elephant; by mother’s side, she
(his mother) is a lioness.
4 He descends and fights face to face.
5 By his father’s side, he is Muhammad; by mother’s side, she is Fatmah.
6 although the guns are discharged, he does not turn back.
Notes. Abba Kurara was the war-name of Hasan, i.e. “lord of Kurara” (his horse).
Notice in verse 3, ambacca instead of the usual Amharic ambassa; the change of
-ssa to -cca has been occasioned either by the necessity of rhyming with bicca,
or by the influence of the Galla ambacca. It is clear that the song was composed
by a Galla who used the Amharic as a literary language; for example, in v. 5
Mumad is the Galla prounciation of the name Muhammad. This verse 5 seems to me
noteworthy, because the singer uses to indicate the Islamic ardor of the hero,
the strange expression: “His father is Muhammad, his mother is Fatmah,” certain
proof of the very slight culture of the Galla Mussulmen.
The Emperor Johannes IV and King Menilek II, although they might not have been
pleased by the foundation of such a small Mussulman state on the frontiers of
Shoa and Goggam did not act in concert to organize an expedition against Hasan.
So at first, Ras Mika’el in the Emperor’s behalf, and Daggac Massa Sayfu for
Menilek, fought and were defeated separately. Afterwards, when a large army ahd
just been prepared in Shoa to assail Darra, the Galla sang this riddle:
lafen okkotet rakkate?
1 Come on, divine!
2 Is the bone distressed in the pot?
Notes. The bone was Hasan, desired by the dogs, i.e. the Amara; the pot was
Darra, his tribe. As a pot protects a bone against the dogs who will not risk
rushing into the pot, and cannot get the bone except by breaking the pot, so
Hasan was protected by the Darra against the Amara who would not risk their
lives by coming into Darra’s coutnry and could not capture Hasan except by
defeating the Darra. The Shoan expedition had not yet departed when Hasan died
a natural death, after slaughtering his war-horse. “After my death,” he said,
“no one can ride Kurara!”
Notice the formula takke tarakke. Loransiyos tells me that this formula has no
sense, but is used to attract attention to the text of the riddle to follow.
The following songs were inspired by the wars between pagans and Mussulmen,
centering in the kingdom of Guma. Guma was converted to Islam, says Loransiyos,
before the other Galla kingdoms.20 In the year 1882, the king of Guma, Abba
Gubir, resolved to make an expedition against the pagans of Gabba at the
northwestern frontier of his kingdom. The expedition was especially directed
against Hanna, a Gabba country, of which the governor was Abba Bara, a famous
sorcerer. The first battles were favorable to the Mussulmen who defeated Abba
Bara and Abba Dima Tambo, chief of the Lieqa Nos and Arrogi tribes, allies of
Hanna. Hanna’s prisoners taken to Guma sang this strophe:
Abba Bara kan duriti
matam bdi na furi
gatin long afuri
1 O Abba Bara of times past,
2 turn your head and redeem me!
3 The ransom is four cows.
In these combats, Ambass Abba Somie, an officer of Abba Bara’s army, was killed
by Gallo, governor of a province (Abba Qoro) in the Guma kingdom.
Ambassa bba Somieti.
Gallo ambassa rra gunguma
1 Over Ambassa Abba Somie,
2 Gallo, the lion, roars.
Note. The singer puns on the double sense of the word ambassa, personal name of
the slain worrior, and “lion” in Amharic.
The first success of Abba Gubir alarmed all the chiefs of the countries between
the rivers Diddiessa and Baro, who saw that these Islamic propagandists enforced
their sermons with spear thrusts and pillaging of villages. Therefore, they
began to help Abba Bara who was very tenaciously defending his country availing
himself of the natural advantages of the woody and rugged territory. Then Abba
Gubir, seeing that this enterprise had become difficult and fearing that the
result of an expedition without success would be great loss of prestige for his
kingdom, sought allies. Therefore four ambassadors of the four states, Guma,
Gimma, Gomma, and Limmu, met in Goggi, a place between Guma and Gomma. 21 These
four Mussulmen kingdoms resolved to confederate and proclaimed a holy war
against the Galla pagans. The league, according to Galla customs, was called by
a special name, Arfa, i.e. “the four.” Afterwards, it was called Arfa Naggadota
to distinguish it from the pagan league. (See song 18.) Arfa Naggadota means
“the four Mussulmen” (literally, “the four merchants”), because Islam was
introduced by the Arabic merchants. Therefore naggadie means both merchant and
After confederating with the other Mohammedan states, Abba Gubir took up arms
again. Then, to weaken the hostile army, he tried to detach from Abba Bara the
warrior Tufa Roba, chief of Hanna Cakka Gadf (see songs 15-17). The first
propositions of Abba Gubir were repulsed by Tufa Roba. Then a ministrel sang:
dappo mata yofla
ya ilma Roba Warie
as gal gennan didde
nao male hafta
farda kan okkoko 5
qallu lama ngirtu
tokkicca Onco Gawe
moti lama ngirtu
farda obbonko bita
tokkicca Onco Gawe 10
malli Onco Gawe
qallun Onco Gawe
cakka Goggi gala
garan Onco Gawe 15
mata rratti bata
1 O red sorghum with a sharp head!
2 O son of Roba Warie,
3 we said to you, “Come!” and you refused.
4 You shall remain wihtout soldiers!
5 O horse of my Lord!
6 Two sorcerers are not there.
7 Onco Gawe is alone.
8 Two kings are not there.
9 My lord will buy a horse (for me).
10 Onco Gawe is alone.
11 Of the skill of Onco Gawe,
12 ask his wife!
13 The sorcerer Onco Gawe
14 enters the wood of Goggi.
15 The mind of Onco Gawe
16 rises over his head!
Notes. The singer says: There is not in these countries such a generous king,
such a foresighted sorcerer as our king, Abba Gubir (called Onco Gawe). In many
Galla and Sidama states, there is a general belief in the magical powers of the
king; therefore Abba Gubir is called “the sorcerer.” Verse 14 alludes to the
meeting at Goggi. Verses 15-16 man: The mind of Onco Gawe 22 is open. His
thoughts rise up from the belly to his head and therefore are manifest. He does
not keep them in his belly!
Verses 11-12 of the preceding song allude to a tale well known in Guma. It is
one of the numerous tales of the cruelty of the Galla kings. They say that Abba
Gubir once saw some artisans covering the roof of a hut in the royal residency.
23 Calling his wife Bisa, he sang:
Bisa! Bisa bba Dangie
Bisa kan na gode biekta
arragiessa gese biekta
arragiessa muka rratt agese
1 Biesa, O Bisa (daughter) of Abba Dangie.
2 Bisa, you will know what I did!
3 You will know that I killed a crow!
4 I killed a crow on the tree!
Note. After this song, similar in its fashion to the songs of the butta (see
song 142), he brandished his spear, and hurling it at an artisan on the roof,
Tufa Roba (song 12) afterwards was won over by the promises of Abba Gubir and
deserting Hanna’s army, passed to the enemy’s camp. But the other chiefs of the
Gabba tribes persevered with Hanna in fighting against the invaders of their
country. The land of Gabba is very rich in coffee, and allusion to this is made
by the singer of the following strophe:
Gabbain bunni ndibu
gabbata fulli ndibu
Garo arenni ndibu
gdri ardrri ndibu
ardrsi, ya bba bora!
1 Gabba is not lacking in coffee.
2 A fat man does not lack la bonne chere.
3 In Garo there is no laack of beards.
4 A good man does not lack contentment.
5 Hear us favorably, O Abba Bora!
Notes. The song is addressed to Fatansa Ilu (whose war-name was Abba Bora, i.e.
“Lord of the light-bay”), king of the Gabba Ilu. Garo (v. 3) is a little Sidama
state to the southeast of Gimma. It was conquered by Abba Gommol, king of
Gimma. 24 the slaves of Garo carried off to Gimma, surprised the Galla because
of their long, rough beards. Therefore, they became proverbial in these Galla
On account of the difficult country, the struggle became ever more intense, but
the Moslem allies of Abba Gubir did not send their armies against the Gabba. At
this time, the king of Guma suffered another loss. Tufa Roba after a short stay
in Guma (he was there appointed by the king governor, Abba Qoro, of a district
near the frontier of the Lieqa tribes) became hateful to some dignitaries of the
royal court and especially to the king’s brohter, Abba Digga. This was increased
by the rumor that Tufa secretly loved Genne Qanatu, Abba Digga’s wife. Tufa
resolved to return to Hanna; and after an agreement with Tucco Danno, the
well-known chief of Lieqa Horda, prepared to fly to the Lieqa country. Here is
his song of farewell toGuma:
obo gofte Surama
lafa gabbate coma
hara qamalie tola
lafa cisa ganami
hara cibsa gabbare 5
lafa sirre tirfida
hara cire birgida
eg an galla liencada
galan biy ofin tola
bie nan galla biyako 10
Hanna cibsa gafare
lafa moti bba bard
hara sare nu wami
gollien hanna gafare
dur obboko nu ngedu 15
gollien gara Gum
kuni qallicca nu ngetti
an biyaku kagele
kara naddieni dufa 20
kara borudd dufa
kara boruda dufa
camsitu girdf male 25
kara naddieni dufa
dirsatu giraf male
nienca galato surd
mie kka arbu n caranure 30
mie mma n dau ilalure
sila Dannott an gala
biya biniensa Biera
ganama nama kienne
galgala nama fudata 35
sila Garbitt an gald
biya biniensa Gilo
gagnatu ta ‘e maga
dabiera dadi duge
sila Gimmat an gala 40
Gimma bba Gifar Sana
kani no gibbe disef
dubarti kasa dufa
dirat itillie nafa
sila Kafat an gala 45
Kafa Gallitto Kamo
biya moti Busasie
kani no gibbe disef
hundase gomfon uffata
hunda cakkatti gala 50
akka gollota wanni
kanafa gibbe hafe
motidaf Bara qamna
yo lafa hama Gruma
ega dabdrsa tate 55
utu gurguras tate
ya Tucco Danno Bieera
ega nu sin gallao
yo Waqayo nuf gede
galmas kagelen ano 60
Roba Gurracco Warie
mie si wamu takkarre
Roba fana dani
akka dolgie madae
isa dowa debiyu 65
akka birrusa dute
Robe Roba bba Tullu
kan dakle nattu siette
dakanu giddi natte
Robe Roba bba Tullu 70
gagan foi karrota
ega dirsise bade
ise gala Hannada
ise dirsa kakatte
malda lafota sani 75
kan farda kudasani
malda kagete ani
utum malda nqabini
utum butta nqallini
ramni maldiessu male 80
tumtu gabbaref male
motitti himindaf male
malda kagelle anurre
ya Gawe Onco Galo 85
Suramu Galo Onco
naddienis gurda nqadne
ilalu kka sen fokkifti
lafon qondala nqabne
sa omli korma nqabne 90
ilalu kka sen fokkifti
masitti baum moga
masin Guma garida
iero dabannef male
lafti Guma baessa 95
qotan qotannef male
kamietti Guma gaaarida
gurda nqabduf male
motin Guma garida
Wata galattef male 100
ega nus biya qdmna
gakin biya fin tola
ega nu ngalla bardna
nd himiera Abba Sanga
manni Watta qarqdrra 105
hinni gara qarbata
firakie nbusin gede
hadakie ngatin gede
Guma qilliensa waru
Guma nafin na gede 110
Hannakie nbusin gede
ega nus biya qamna
galdn biya fin tola
ega nu ngalla barana
yo Waqayo nuf gede 115
1 Oh Surama, my loard.
2 The fertile and rich land
3 today has become fit for monkeys (only)!
4 The land, rest of the mulatto,
5 today pays tribute for the cow’s enclosure!
6 To the land, bed of Tirff,
7 today, weeding hte way I desire to return there (literally, today I weeded on
8 Therefore I am a vagabond lion!
9 To return to one’s own country is good.
10 Come! I will return to my land,
11 Hanna, enclosure (of the cows) of Gafare,
12 the land of King Abba Bara!
13 Today call us dog,
14 the sons of Hanna Gafare.
15 Already called us, my lord,
16 the sons of this guma.
17 “This is a sorcerer!” they say to us.
18 I long for my country!
19 The bad contest
20 comes out of women’s cause (literally, comes out of women’s way).
21 The bad rain
23 comes at daybreak (literally, comes out of daybreak’s way).
24 The bad rain
25 comes at daybreak
26 if the camsitu is not there (to keep it back).
27 The bad contest
28 comes out of women’s cause
29 if the man is not there (to keep it back).
30 O Lion, my dear (horse) with (fine) tail
31 Come! like an elephant I will roar!
32 Come! I will look where I may go.
33 If I could go to the country of Danno,
34 the coutnry of the wild-beast of the the Biera (fmaily)!
35 In the morning he give presents to a man.
36. In the evening he takes ack from this man (his presents)!
37 If I could go to the country of Garbi,
38 the country of the wild beast (son) of Gilo!
39 The brave rest and slubmer.
40 The vile drink the dydromel,
40 If I could go to Gimma,
41 Gimma (the country) of Abba Gifar Sana!
42 This (land I hated an left it.
43 The girl rises and comes.
44 The man stretches for her the skin for a bed!
45 If i could go to Kaffa,
46 Kaffa (the country) of Gallito Kamo,
47 the country of the kings of Basasie.
48 This (land) I hated and left it.
49 All water (on their heads) the gomfo.
50 All go into the woods
51 like the sons of the baboon.
52 I hated these and left htem.
53 We will go towards the king (Abba) Bara
54 if the land of Guma is bad
55 “After being in exile,
56 perhaps you will be sold also!”
57 O Tucco Danno Biera
58 then we will go to your country.
59 If God has spoken (thus) in our behalf,
60 I desire to return!
61 O Roba (son) of the black Warfe,
62 please, I will call you!
63 Follow the taracks of Robba
64 like a wounded elephant!
65 He is an obstacle which makes one fall back
66 like an angry elephant!
67 O Robe (daughter ) of Roba bba Tullu!
68 Do you think that she eats what she milled herself?
69 (The slaves) work by constraint and she eats
70 O Robe (daughter) of Roba bba Tullu,
71 beautiful, chosen among the girls with fine teeth!
72 Since the death of her husband,
73 she has been in Lower Hanna.
74 She has sworn against all men (never to marry again).
75 the armlet for five foot soldiers
76 and for fifteen horsemen,
77 the armlet I desire!
78 Although I may not have the armlet,
79 although I have not sacrificed at the butta,
80 I am a raba worthy fo the armlet!
81 Your armlet would reach me,
82 if I had paid the tirbute to the smith,
83 if I had not spoken to the ing.
84 Have I really desired the armlet?
85 O dear Gawe Onco,
86 dear Suramu Onco.
87 Women without the gurda,
88 I will see how ugly they are!
89 Foot soldiers without a qondala,
90 cows without an ox,
91 I will see how ugly they are!
92 The coming out of the couryard is bad.
93 The courtyard of Guma is beautiful,
94 but they palnt there the iero.
95 The land of Guma is good,
96 but they dig and dig it.
97 The women of Guma are beautiful,
98 but they have not the gurda.
99 The king of Guma is good,
100 but he loves the Watta.
101 Come! We also have a country!
102 REturning to one’s own coutnry is good.
103 Then we will return there, this year!
104 That Aba Sanga told me,
105 he whose hut is on Watta Qarqa,
106 he whose belly is a leather bottle
107 “Give not up your relations!” he said.
108 “Give not up your mother!” he said.
109 “Guma is the breeze of spring.”
110 “Remain not in Guma!” he said.
111 “Give not up your Hanna,” he said.
112 Come! We also have a coutnry!
113 Returning to one’s own coutnry is good.
114 Then we will return there this year,
115 if God has spoken (thus) in our behalf!
Notes. In this song, Tufa refutes the accusations and the slanders of the Guma
(first part); then explains the motives of his dwelling in Guma after the
desertion from Hanna (second part); boasts of his ancestors and their
entreprises (third part); finally excuses himself of the principal accusation
(i.e. as the lover of Genne Qanatu); and after giving like for like to Guma in
the matter of slander, recalls the counsels given him by an old diviner (fourth
part). The verses of this song are put together in an orderly way not usual in
The song beings by describing the pitiable condition of Hanna, the country of
the singer (v. 1-12). Surama (v. 1) was the war-name of prince Abba Digga, the
aforesaid brother of Abba Gubir. Tufa Roba was a nephew of Warie, a negro who
immigrated to Hanna Cakka Gadi (Hanna was partitiioned in two districts: Hanna
Cakka Gadi, ie..e “Hanna of the lower wood” and Hanna Cakka oli “Hanna of the
upper wood”). Verse 4 alludes to Warie. Tirff (v. 5) was the wife of Warie, and
therefore grandmother of Tufa. Gafare (v. 11) was an anient chief of Hanna. It
is a Galla custom to join to the country’s name the name of a famous chief or
king who governed the land, e.g. Gimma Abba Gifar (Abba Gifar was the war-name
of two kings of Gimma); Gimma Qadida (Qadida Wannabie was the chief of this
other Galla state); Affillo Gare (Gare was an acient chief of the Afillo tribe).
This is a source of mistake to travellers and geographers who do not know the
Galla tongue, e.g. the map of Abyssinia by Major De Chaurand has the locality
Dano Bera, really not a place but a chief of Gimma Argo and Lieqa Horda, Danno
Verses 19-20 reproach Abba Digga because he considered worthy of belief the
prating of the Guma women about Tufa and Genne Qanatu. On the camsitu keeping
back the rain, see song 7.
Lion (in Galla, lienca) was the name of Tufa’s horse. Verses 32-35 allude to
Danno Biera. It was said that he changed his officers very frequently. The
verses 36-39 allude to Gabi Gilo, chief of Lieqa Billo (see song 2). A very
valiant warrior, he was so jealous of his renown that he preferred to give the
high offices of his court to persons who could not push him into the shadow. The
verses 40-44 allude to the bad reputation of the girls of Gimma Abba Gifar among
the Galla. Abba Gifar Sana (verse 41) was the first king of Gimma. 25 Verses
45-51 relate to the customs of Kaffa, which appear very strange to the Galla.
The Kaffa used to wear on their heads the gomfo, that is, a kind of cap mae of
monkey’s hair and adorned by ostrich feathers or by feathers of the red bird
called by the Galla gucci. 26 The houses of Kaffa are often surrounded by
coffee trees which they utilize to hide and protect their houses. The coffee in
these coutnries grows so high that it forms small woods (see song 14). Gallitto
Kamo (verse 46) was the king of Kaffa, the last king but one before the Amara
conquest. He was born of the Basase dynasty which claims to be derived from the
Portuguese. In fact, the kings of this dynasty are of a lighter color than the
natives, and to keep this characterisitc, they do not marry women who are not
born of the same stock. 27 Verses 5-56 allude to the tradition current in Guma
that Tufa was about to be sentenced to exile or slavery.
With verse 61 begins the glorification of Tufa’s ancestors. First, Tufa sings
about his father, Roba, who left tracks of the blood of his slain enemies
everywhere he went, as a wounded elephant leaves blood tracks that guide the
hunter to him. Then the poet sings about his step-mother, Robe Roba, who was
said to have been a freed slave (v. 67-74). Last (v. 45), Tufa begins the oratio
pro domo sua, vaunting his own enterprises. The Galla used to grant to the
warrior who had killed five men, five buffaloes and five lions, an armlet called
malda. The malda was awarded by the Abba Gucci during the feast, butta, after
the reckoning of the spoils. The number of the victims necessary to obtain the
armlet was the aforesiad, but it was calculated according to a kind of
computation table known by heart by the old men of the tribe. This table fixed
the value of the differnet vicitms. Here is the table which Loransiyos gave me:
one elephant = five horsemen
one panther = fourteen foot soldiers
five monkeys = one foot soldier
one lion = two horsemen
one buffalo = one horseman
In this case, Tufa had killed, besides five foot soldiers (v. 45), fifteen
horsemen, that is five lions and five buffalos, according to the table. 28 In
Guma the king was the president of the butta feast. Tufa says (v. 81-83) he
should have obtained the malda, if it had not been for the circumstance that the
judge in the computation of the victims was the king. Perhaps the king of Guma
would have granted the malda to Tufa, if Tufa had paid the tirbute to the smiths
(v. 82). The smiths exacted a special tax on the honors granted at the butta.
Verses 81-83 allude also to the favoritism of the dynasty ruling in Guma toward
the lower casts of the population (see Appendix).
With verse 85, the song comes back to the accusation of adultery, and Tufa tries
to persuade the jealous husband, Abba Digga, that he (Tufa) has no love for
strange women. The women in Gabba, Hanna, and Lieqa used to gird themselves with
the gurda (v. 84). The gurda is a sash of jet and hair which is wound round the
body, its pointed ends dangling to the knees. The Galla think that the gurda is
the best remedy against the evil-eye. 29 On the contrary, in the other Macca
countries as Guma, Gimma, etc. not the women but the men wear this sash. To
Tufa, born in Hanna, a woman without a gurda (who appears to him as a cow
without an ox) is very undesirable; therefore he did not court Genne Qanatu.
Verses 97-100 scoff at the Guma. They used to plant round the courtyards of
their huts a thorny shrub which is called by them iero (in Tulama dialect,
wallensu; in Somali walenso = erithryna melanachanto). The land of Guma is not
rich in corn, but in woods and natural vegetation; therefore, the cultivation
of corn necessitates keeping it free from the grass that smothers it. The Guma
used to spade up the soil many times before sowing and remove carefully all the
roots of the extraneous vegetation (v. 95-96).
As I have already said, in Guma the low caste of the Watta had certain
privileges. Is this fact connected with the Galla legend of the origin of the
Adamite dynasty (see Prose, I)? Or has the legend been occasioned by this
partiality of Adam’s descendants for the Watta (v. 99-100)?
Verses 104-111 recall the predictions and the counsels of Abba Sanga. Abba Sanga
(a war-name which means “lord of the castrated horse”) was an Abba Mora, i.e. a
soothsayer, reading the future in the entrails (mora) of the sacrificed victims
(sheep or cows). In verse 8 of this song, the word galla meaning “errant,”
“wandering,” is especially noteworthy. The word is probably connected with the
Somali root gal meaning “stranger” and afterwards, “non-Moslem.” Reinisch 30 has
already suggested connecting the Somali word with the national name of the
Galla. The fact that this word is still used today by the Galla is a veritable
proof of Reinisch’s hypothesis. Cf. the etymology of Ge’ez, the national name of
the Ethiopians, from the root Ga’aza, “to emigrate”; and the etymology of
Sidama, which is derived, according to Reinisch, 31 from the root sid, “to
In verse 64, dogie is the Galla name of the adult male elephant called tolie in
Amharic. In verse 66, birrusa is the Galla name for a kind of young elephant,
but greater than the goro, which is the Amharic and the Galla name of the
elephant not yet reached maturity. The birrusa is feared on account of its
anger. As to other exampels of the rich terminology employed in the East-African
languages to indicate the different kinds of elephants, see my Canti Popolari
In verse 74, the text has ise qirsa kakatte meaning, “she has made a holy oath
against the men.” About the holy oath, kaka, see song 143.
Raba (v. 80) is the name of the young men who have not yet sacrificed at the
butta (see songs 34, 142). P. Martial de Salviac 33 states that there are, among
the Galla, “trois dignitaires” l’Abba-Bokou (Pere du sceptre), premier
magistrat, le Dori et le Raba, assesseurs et juges”; but the same author 34
says, that the Abba Bokku, the Dori, the Raba, are all called dori “comme
denomination generale.” Loransiyos tells me that the information given by P.
Martial de Salviac seems to him inexact. He does not recognize dori as a
dignitary; he knows this word only as a personal name, e.g. of a Sulu Galla
chief, father of Fitawrari Cufa Dori and relative of Fitawrari Habta Giyorgis.
Watta Qarqa (v. 105) is a place in Guma near the frontier of Gomma. Watta Qarqa
means “Watta’s ascent.” Notice the old form of the genitive; the construction
employed today would be Qarqa Watta. 36 Waru (v. 109) is a strong but not steady
wind blowing in the dry season (December-march) called by the Galla bona.
The signal for Tufa Roba’s flight, to acquaint him that his allies beyond the
frontier of Guma were ready to aid him, was the following song. At the time
appointed, this strophe was sung by the soldiers of Gene Tufa Cirfa, a woman who
governed a country half-way between Hanna and the frontier of Guma.
cei hammarri ya Tute Danno
warqie Onco Gawe Hungulale
1 Pass (the frontier) and seize, oh Tucco Danno
2 the gold hoarded by Onco Gawe.
As to the verb hungulale, see song 21, v. 60 and notes.
Tucco went to the frontier of Guma and Tufa Robba fled to him, safe and sound.
This flight impressed the Galla deeply and was interpreted as a real victory for
the Pagan League. Therefore, Abba Gubir in revenge prepared an expedition
against the pagans with the aid of an army sent him by the king of Limmu
bor ganama daqen ise fidd
yo lafitti barite. 5
Oromon attam qufte?
Oromtitti sa ofi ndu’ u nditu
kdn karra qalte hinnattu.
bor ganama dqen ise fidd
adamirra ndalanne 10
yo n isa fidu bade
bor ganama daqen ise fida
1 The ruler Onco,
2 the sorcerer Onco,
3 Gawe (i.e. the python) Onco!
4 Tomorrow morning I, Onco will go to bear him (Tufa) off,
5 when the day shall break (literally, when the earth shall dawn).
6 How saucy the pagans grew!
7 The pagans eat dead cows (i.e. dead from natural causes),
8 do not eat (cows) that the knife has slaughtered.
9 Tomorrow morning I, Onco, will go to bear him (Tufa) off.
10 I am not born of Adam’s stock.
11 If I were, I should not be able to bear him off!
12 Tomorrow morning I will go to bear him (Tufa) off!
Notes. Abba Gubir, called also in this song by the names of his ancestors, Onco
and Gawe, accused the pagans of eating impure meat, i.e. cows which have not
been slaughtered with a sharpened knife, according to the ritual demanded by the
Moslem law. ofu ndu ‘u (v. 7) literally, “dead by itself is the Galla
translation of the Arabic word maytah, meaning impure meat (literally, “the
corpse”). The pagan Galla used a spear to kill cattle and after killing them,
cut them in pieces. 37 Verse 10 alludes to the descent of Abba Gubir from Adam’s
dynasty. Notice in verse 7 the feminine article -ti used in contempt after the
noun Oromo (pagans); for a like motive, Tufa Roba is indicated in the verses 4,
9, and 12 by the feminine pronoun ise (literally, “she,” “her”).
Tufa, after retuning to Hanna, continued to incite the minds of the pagans
against Guma. Then was formed a pagan league to oppose the Moslem league of
Goggi. The allies were Lieqa Billo with its chief, Garbi Gilo (see song 2);
Lieqa Horda with its chief, Tuco Danno; the Hole Kabba tribe (see song 21);
Hanna, and other secondary tribes. The league took the name Arfa Oromota, i.e.
“the four pagans,” corresponding to the name Arfa Naggadota, “the four
Mussulmen” of Goggi (see song 12). According to the Galla custom, both armies,
before the battle, sang their song of defiance. Here is the song of the pagans.
Islam huddu diqattu
ise waggin daballame nbaliesu
nus qabanna mala
nu imbunu badda
yogga istn butani 5
gaga isin dufidni
nuyu wamaddinna 10
wal agarra badda
yo dibben nu dibbe
gdra badda Lieqa
yo qibben nu dibbe 15
gdra badda Sibu
ya guidanta Sibu
Sone mudi ribu
buta badda Qumba 20
busa qitte muka
nuyu asin egna
baddarratti Qumba 24
1 The back-rinsing Mussulmen!
2 I will not fight (literally, ruin), joining myself with them.
3 We also have taken counsel.
4 We will go out to the plateau.
5 When you go thither,
6 when you come thither,
7 call you
8 the other three Mussulmen!
9 We will call
10 the four pagans.
11 We will meet each other on the plateau.
12 If we should be distressed (literally, if the distress should distress us),
13 towards the plateu of Lieqa,
14 we should send (messages ) to Ligdi.
15 If we should be distressed,
16 to the plateau of Sibu,
17 we should send (message) to Sone.
18 O obstacle of Sibu,
19 Sone, whose waist is a rope,
20 go out to the plateau of Qumba!
21 Pay (the ritual offering) to the qittie tree.
22 You will come there.
23 Then we will await you there
24 on the palteau of Qumba.
Notes. The first two verses (1-2) allude to Tufa Roba, who returning to his
country will no longer fight on the side of the Mussulmen. “Back-rinsing” (v. 1)
is the usual nickname for the Modhammedans in the Galla tongue as in Amharic
(Amharic, qit tat tabi). The name alludes clearly to the Islamic ritual
ablutions. As to other pleasantires on Islamic ceremonies and beliefs, see
songs 21, 23, 142. In verse 14, Ligdi Bakarie (see song 20) and Sone Miggu (see
songs 4-6) were two auxiliaries of the pagan league. Qittie muka (v. 21), says
Loransiyos, is one of the trees most venerated by the Galla. It is known that
the Galla and the Kushitic populations in general venerate certain trees,
symbols of supernatural beings or habitations of the lesser spirits. Qumba (v.
24) is a plateau in the Lieqa territory near the dominion of Tucco Danno.
In the battle at Qumba, the army of the Mohammedans was defeated; the pagans
pursued them as far as the frontier of Guma. Abba Gubir, seeing the threatening
progress of his enemies, requested his allies to observe more strictly the terms
of the league. Limmu sent a new army, which joined itself to the Guma forces and
assailed the pagans at Giedo, in the territory of the Gabba Obo tribe, on the
hilly banks of the Diddiessa. There also the pagans won a victory. The Moslem
armies retreated separately. The Guma army was again pursued as far as the
frontier of the kingdom and Ligdi Bakarie took prisoner Abba Dooga, the brother
of Abba Gubir, the aforesaid rival of Tufa Roba (see song 15, introduction).
Giedo gala bute
galaiessi essa mbu u farda buse.
farda yo bban mbuftu
butan farda tti hiqe.
1 I came down to Giedo.
2 Where the monkeys are not seen to descend, I made my horse descend!
3 When the horseman would not leave his horse,
4 the hoofs of the horse,
5 the horse was rstrained there by the sword (literally, the sword has
restrained there the horse).
Notes. Verses 3-5 mean: The horseman can restrain his horse in the precipices of
Giedo only by sword thrusts.
Ligdi Bakarie was a brother of Moroda, the chief of Lieqa Naqamte. The captivity
of Abba Digga, the prince of Guma taken prisoner at Giedo, made more difficult
the position of Lieqa Naqamte between the two belligerent leagues. Lieqa Naqamte
did not join itself to the Mussulmen (although its chief enemy, Tucco Danno had
added his army to the pagan league) because it was on every side surrounded by
pagan populations and its little army would not have been able to resist till
the arrival of the Moslem armies; nor did it fight on the side of the pagans
because of the old enmity with the Warra Biera (see song 28). Here is an
interesting strope, which Moroda sang to deplore the dangers of neutrality.
Lieqa Naqamte, as I have above said, remained neutral during the war.
ya bbako Bakarie
ya kkoko Yamugie
essa bbako daqare
rakko rakko na dufe
1 O my father Bakarie!
2 O my ancestor Yamugie!
3 Where can I go?
4 All woes reached me!
Notes. However, the brother of Moroda, Ligdi, followed the pagan league. Abba
Digga was taken after his capture into Lieqa Naqamte; Ligdi desired to hang him,
but Moroda, to avoid worse difficulties between his tribe and Guma, let him
escape disguised in woman’s clothes.
The army of Limmu, which had gone to aid Guma, after the battle at Giedo was
pursued by the Nole Kabba, a Galla tribe living on the left bank of the Birbir,
west of Haru Gada Dulle and Gimma Horro. The “four pagans” decided that the Nole
Kabba, aftger pursuing the army of Limmu, would attack Limu itself. In fact, the
Nole Kabba penetrated Limmu as far as Hursa.
lola Nole Kabba
abban ole gabba
Guma farda buse
Lieqan kolfa qufe
laloso dibicca 5
habakka yo fute
Guman torba gefte
si kenna muccako
dibbif dinki fidi 10
sitt ergadda seo
yo n argadda ta e
gara Nole Kabba
dina fani mbieku
torbani bultare 15
lokon ba a dinnan
Baro tola rgate
karan essa gede
galdiessi ssa mbu u 20
bowan kan Diddiessa
bowan kan hiyessa
Guma biyaf dume
Limmu maftu dibbe
nu sanif lammieda 25
ganda bba bagibo
bufta buna Giedo
namn dkka bakakka
qabde agesifta 30
bakakka bba Riebu
baa goda bund
manakiena dufani 35
harka qulla ngalani
Hursa Limmu miti
harra Hanna gette
yo birran barite
gaga doqqien qorte 40
Nonno Raggi himd
Limmu ta e boa
hinargu ttam gotare
hamma dufan iso 45
Gamba Ragga raggi
gota lkani guya
isa Sieqa darbe 50
ega Sieqa darbo
manni Gimma mbadu
Gimma Garo bu d
Limmu ttam gotare 55
atu ttam gotare
buna sila nfunu
warqie hungulali 60
kan iena naddieni
buqqe rkatti batti
diraf naddien kiessan 65
nu wari wallale
ega nu egadda
ega nu eggaddi 70
yo torban Guduru
yo Gan Gimmu futa
walin nu barbaddani
ega nus eganna!
1 The war of the Nole Kabba.
2 Whoever has failed, repents (his failure).
3 (They) have pulled down the Guma from their horses.
4 (They) have taunted the Lieqa by laughing.
5 Laloso (wood for yoke) of the oxen!
6 If you have taken the long spear (habakka),
7 seven Guma you will have killed!
8 I will bring you (their spoils) oh my girl.
9 Oh my one girl,
10 take the drum and the dwarf!
11 I will send you that,
12 if I have found it.
13 These Hole Kabba,
14 an enemy whose language is unknown!
15 Seven days do you wait?
16 I shall have killed seventeen (enemies).
17 As the horse (literally, the halter) has refused the burden (of the spoils),
18 I have sent to you the spoils by the way of the Baro.
19 “Where is the way?” he said.
20 Where the monkeys do not descend!
21 The precipice is of the Diddiessa.
22 Weeping is for the poor!
23 The Guma perished utterly.
24 Why have the Limmu been distressed (for them)?
25 We are born from kindred lineagues.
25 O country of Abba Bagibo!
27 You descend, we descend into Giedo!
28 Ligdi is born,
29 a man like thunder.
30 (Whoever) you have taken (into your company), you cause him to kill (i.e.
31 The thunder, Abba Riebu.
32 One Oromo (i.e. pagan)
33 against ten Mussulmen!
34 Go out, let us descend to the plain!
35 They came into our house.
36 They will not return from there with empty hands!
37 “Hursa is no (longer) Limmu.
38 Today it is Hanna,” you said.
39 When the spring has broken forth,
40 when the dirt has become dry,
41 the Nonno will tell wonderful tales.
42 The Limmu afterwards will weep!
43 The pagans have agreed.
43 It is not there. What can you do?
44 As soon as he comes here,
46 Gamba Ragga, the wonderful,
47 brave by night and by day,
48 he will trench, he
49 the short (warrior) of Gingillie,
50 he (the son) of Lieqa has decided.
51 When (the son) of Lieqa has decided,
52 as to war, he is not too short for it!
53 The house of Gimma does not perish.
54 Gimma descends to Garo.
55 What can Limmu do?
56 The pagans have taken counsel.
57 And you, what can you do?
58 Send not coffee as tribute, because we will not take it.
60 Hoard gold!
61 Our women (only)
62 carry pumpkins.
63 Do your servant-maids do the work of men?
64 Question (about it) all
65 your men and your women!
66 We do not know the night.
67 Question (about it) all
65 your men and your women!
66 We do not know the night.
67 Then await us,
68 (when the Cross holiday has been celebrated (literally, burnt).
69 Give food to your horses.
70 Then await us!
71 Even if you confederate with the seven Gudru (literally, if you should take
in your company the seven Gudru),
72 and with the six Gimma,
73 and then look for us,
74 we will await you!
Notes. In the verses 5-18, the victorious warrior tells his sweetheart that he
intended to send her the captured spoil, but on account of their great quantity
and the ruggedness of the country where the horse had refused so heavy a burden,
he has flung them into the Baro (perhaps in a stream flowing into the Baro),
tributary of the Saint Bon (Upeno). Dwarfs (v. 10) were most appreciated as
buffoons by these Galla ppopulations (see Prose, text 13). The Nole Kabba (v.
13) were followed during this expedition by a group of Affillo, a Sidama tribe
living on the banks fo the Upeno. The Affilo speak a Sidama dialect very similar
to the Kaffa language. They were “an enemy whose language is unknown”, to the
Galla of Guma. Loransiyos affirms that the
king of the Affillo is born of the same line as the Busasie who reign in Kaffa.
The verses 19-20 point out the ruggedness of the Giedo coutnry. They are very
similar to verse 2 of song 19. Then the singer wonders why Limmu has intervened
in the war just when Gimma was in a bad condition (v. 21-24). Verse 25 alludes
to the affinity between the Nole Ka ba nd the Limmu Soba tribe (the Limmu Soba
and the far distant Limmu are brothers according to the Galla genealogists).
Abba Bagibo (v. 26) is the well-known king of Limmu. 38 The verses 28-36 allude
to an enterprise of the famous warrior, Ligdi Bakarie. Pursuing his enemies, he
advanced as far as the village of Boqa Maracco in Guma and challenged the people
to send against him ten Moslem warriors whom he alone fought and defeated. The
verses 35-36 (which are obliged to give to Ligdi Barakie, as a recompense for
the excursion which Ligdi had made into their coutnry. Abba Riebu (v. 31) was
the war-name of Ligdi, “lord of (the horse) Riebu” (Riebu means whip). The
Nonno (v. 41) although they were old enemies of Limmu, did not confederate with
the pagans, and fearing an invasion of their cottnry, they guarded their
frontier and made trenches on it. Gamba Ragga (v. 16) was a chief of the Nonno,
ironically praised by the singer on account of the trenching. Lamu, son of
Lieqa, (v. 49-52), was a brave officer of the army of Tucco Danno. His country
was Fingillie in Lieqa.
The Nole Kabba, after invading nearly the whole of Limmu, began to sack the
adjoining districts of Gimma Abba Gifar. Therefore, the verses 53-55, praising
the victory, allude to the custom of the court of Gimma of escaping to Garo,
whenever the capital of the kingdom was in danger. The verses 61-65 contain the
usual pleasantries about the Moslem ritual ablutions. When travelling, the
Galla Mussulmen carry the water necessary for these ablutions in an empty
pumpkin called masagula. 39 The pagans say, “Among our people, only the women
bring the pumpkings and draw the water; your men do this work fit only for
women. Then who among you does the work fit for men? Perhaps the women?”
Teh song ends with the threat of new invasion of Limmu.
The pagans mention the feast of the Cross (v. 68) as a well known date in their
calendar. Some Galla pagan tribes, the Kaffa, the Affillo, the Zingaro, 40
celebrate with primitive rites the holiday of the Cross. Loransiyos tells me
that, according to a Galla tradition, these are survivals of the cult taught to
the Galla by Moti Waqie (i.e. “the King of the Gold”) who conquered the Galla
and Sidama countries before the invasion of Gran. One finds in Galla countries
beyond the Gibie ruins of ancient churches built by the “king of the Gold.”
Legends allude to the expeditions led by the Ethiopian emperors against the
Sidama kingdoms and the Galla coutrties to the southern frontier of the Ethiopic
state. Verse 71 alludes to the confederation of the seven Gudru tribes, which
afterwards became a little kingdom governed by Gama Muras.41 Verse 42 alludes to
the confederation of the six Gimma; they are the five tribes, Gimma Rare, Gimma
Gobbo, Gimma Tibbie, Gimma Argo, Gimma Qadida, and the kingdom of Gimma Abba
Gifar. Although Gimma Abba Gifar is separated from the other five tribes living
between Gudru, Limmu and Lieqa, on account of the rememberance of their common
origin, the six Gimma always consider each other akin, but there is no political
bond between them. Likewise, the Lieqa esteem themselves brothers of ta tribe
living near Warra Himano in Wallo, and say that Gran expelled them from Wallo to
their present seat.
Laloso (v. 5) is a tree, the wood of which is used by the Galla to construct
yokes for oxen; habakka (v. 6) is a kind of spear wiht long wooden shaft and
short blade; it is called also tuma Limmu, because the smiths in Limmu construct
and sell it in great quantities. Seo (v. 11) “thing” is an Arabism; loko
“halter” means horse figuratively; hungulale (v. 60, see also song 16), means
“to hoard the gold dust,” which in these countries was found in the river
gravels, and heaped up by the Galla. In this form, it is brought to the chief as
tribute. Borelli 42 tells that Menilek II hurled against Walda Giyorgis the gold
heap which the daggac had paid as tribute to the Emperor.
The second defeat of the pagan league and the invasion of Limmu forced Abba
Gubir and his allies to demand an armistice, which was accorded to them by the
pagans. In the meantime, Abba Gubir sent his brother, AQbba Digga, to Dapo
Gumbi, the only land conquered by him during the war and kept by him till the
armistice. Abba Digga was appointed governor (Abba Qoro) chiefly to spy from the
north upon the movements of the pagan armies. Then Abba Guir asked his allies
whether they would conclude a new agreement to take up arms again after the
armistice. The king of Limu, who had suffered the largest losses during the
invasion of his country, and had participated in the Islamic war from motives
political rather than religious, refused to renew the alliance. Likewise Gimma
Abba Gifar did not desire to participate in another war. These refusals were
perhaps the cause of the wars between Guma and the two kingdoms of Limmu and
Gimma Abba Gifar which I have discussed in the notes to the songs 1-2. Gomma
alone sent a favorable answer by means of a special embassy. Then Abba Gubir
assembled all the princes and officers of his kingdom and recited to them the
following riddle. The solution of the riddle was given by Abba Digga.
Abba Gubir: hibo! hibo!
Abba Digga: hip!
Abba Gubir: godarre bakkie kiessa gurra rafte
warra gudda dabomi
mimitta sinicco 5
kabala nama geftu
gafarsa mirgan td u
qierransa milan ta u
kana bieka 10
Abba Digga: donacco, na mari!
donacco, an nan ima!
godarre bakkie kiessa
gurra rafte kan gette
abbako, Limmuda 15
warra gudda dabomi
abbako kan gette Gimmada
kabala nama geftu
abbako kan gette Gommada 20
ya bbako Tuccoda
gafarsa mirgan ta u
ya bbako Tamboda
qierransa milan ta u 25
ya bbako Noleda
kana sif nan kieke
1 Abba Gubir: “A riddle! a riddle!”
2 Abba Digga: “Come on!:
3 Abba Gubir: “A calladium moves the leaves (literally, the ears) in the plain!
4 There is great family of cowards!
5 The very hot pepper,
6 a handful (of it) kills the people.
7 (There is) a lion at my side,
8 there is a buffalo at my right hand,
9 there is a leopard at my feet.
10 Divine this! (literally, know this!)”
11 Abba Digga: “My Lord, pardon me!
12 My Lord, I will tell (it to you).
13 The calladium which in the plain
14 moves its leaves (literaly, the eaers), as you have said,
15 my Lord, is Limmu
16 The great family of cowards
17 which you have mentioned, O my Lord, is Gimma (Abba Gifar).
18 The very hot pepper,
19 a handful (of which) kills the people,
20 as you have said, O my Lord, is Gomma.
21 The lion at your side,
22 O my Lord, is Tucco (Danno).
23 The buffalo which is there at the left hand,
24 O my Lord is (Abba Dima) Tambo.
25 The leopard which is there at the feet,
26 O my Lord, is the Nole (Kabba tribe).
27 This I have divined (literally, known) for you.”
Notes. The population of Limmu (v. 3, 13-15) not brave, but vainglorious and
inconstant, is compared to the calladium sativum, the tuber of which is eaten by
the Galla; its leaves move according to the direction of the wind. The Galla
often call the leaves gurra muka, i.e. “the ears of the tree,” (cf. v. e, 14 of
this song and song 93); likewise, they call frits igga muka, i.e. “the eyes of
the tree” (this second metaphor is so usual that often igga, “eyes,” without the
genitie muka means “fruits”). Also the Sidama (e.g., the Kaffa, the Dawro, and
the Walamo) call leaves, “the ears of the tree.” There is no doubt a close
correspondence between this animistic conception and the religious ideas of the
Kushites concerning trees. Song 138 is a very important proof of this
The population of Gimma Abba Gifar, although very numerous, was said to be
wanton, (see song 15, v. 40-44), and therefore not valiant in war (v. 4, 16-17).
The warriors of Gomma were few, as their native coutnry was small; but they
fought very braqvely (v. 5, 18-20). As to the pepper, symbol of bravery, (v. 5)
cf. song 1, notes. The three enemies who resemble the three wild beasts (lioin,
buffalo, leopard) are north of Guma — “at my side,” northwest of Guma, “at my
feet,” the Nole Kabba. Naturally this orientation was determined by the place
where the council of the officers had assembled, and by the position of the
singer (Abba Gubir). As to Abba Dima Tambo, cf. song 10.
Worthy of notice in this song is the formula for stating and for solving
riddles; Kana bieka, “Divine (literally, “know”) this” (v. 10)., and Kana sif
nan bieke, “This I have divined (literally, “known”) for you” (v. 20). These
formulae may be compared to Min awgillis? “What shall I divine (literally,
“know”) for you?” used by the Amara in their riddles.
Sinicco (v. 5, 18) is a very hot variety of pepper. In some parts of Shoa on the
Galla frontier, the Amara also call it siniso. Donacco (v. 11, 12) was the title
of the kings of the Galla state beyond the Gibie, used only when addressing the
king as the Amharic ganhoy (cf. the Kaffa word, dono, “lord”; Gonga, dongo,
The new war between the pagans and the Mussulmen was occasioned byt he arrogance
of Abba Digga. He had resolved that instead of the usual tribute, the population
of Dapo should give him the whole crop of maize for that year. The chiefs of
two clans in Dapo, Ebiyo and Dukkulla, were obliged to vouch for the
preservation and consignment of all the crops. On one occasion the crops were
found damaged, and both guardians laid the blame to monkeys that had visited the
fields by night. But Abba Digga finding in their houses a large part of the
stolen maize, condemned them and their families to slavery and ordered that they
should be brought to Guma and sold in the market place. Ebiyo was able to escape
and reach the pagan army commanded by Tokko ndarse, who had pitched his camp
near Dapo. Tokko ndarse was easily persuaded that the guardians were innocent
and unjustly condemned; he sent many soldiers to cut down all the maize of Abba
Digga as a sign of the declaration of war. Then he besieged Dapo with his army.
Abba Digga, as soon as the war began, was aided by the army of Guma which sent
to deliver him from the siege of the pagans. After three days of battle, the
Mussulmen were defeated for the third time. The army of Guma was pursued as far
as Ebicca Ruya at the frontier of the kingdom, and only the resistance of Nagari
Ganna, a chief of Dapo, converted to Islam and therefore fighting together with
the Mussulmen, was able to prevent the invasion of the Moslem kingdom. Here is
the triumphal song of the victors:
digni Eban Sulle
boqqollo bba dula
durbi Eba Sulle
nu Guma miti 5
abbankie naggadie 10
ya Sudamu Gawe
yo and namicca
qale mora ngiessa 15
mora giessi mbieku
lafo gara Guma
tokko ndicca nbasa
namni harra dabde
Guma fira nargitu 20
ya Gada da Yambe
Kalle lienca mofa
duratt asin gird
Y ambiet essa moga
tumattu kka Sima 25
agada Tokko ndarse
Gadaqa Abba Gabbi
gilli Tokko gira
namn akka kudani
gawen hola tiksa
kan Tokko no gode
bakke Dapo gala
si ndinqu ya Guma 35
riefan ta o base
lafa ta o Guma
boqqollo facafne 40
Hannan kolfa qufe
tokkon siesa mbieku
isa tiepa hirou 45
ana natu bboko
muca ndarse Obe
Tookon baca duma
gade mal sodata
lafa bba offitti 50
duru basa bafte
mmal barcuma qabdi
yo algasan kiena 55
yo Guma daddabde
Gimman is dabali
Tambarotti ergati 60
tumtu kudas ani
tumtu tuma tumii
hinni siesa mbieku 65
Waqi bute kani
gandi Tokko ndarse
kuni Waqi bu e
akka qallu bbukku
ya tima Onco Gawe 70
korma si erginna
ani nnattu gette
korma nama male
diga nama male
korbiesso ro ota 75
sogidda nam bita
Gubir Abba Dinqi
isa sitti ergata
isa siesa mbieku
Docce nama ngiessi 80
Abba Mina Hanna
yo Galla hillitu
goga gabbi coma 85
soda rabbi somi
Sure mal kiessani
is sirre kiesse 90
ofi gala tiesse
akka Tokko ndarse
Tola Waqi wamatte
bakarati ndoftu 95
ilmi Ganna Sabu
bakakkan ga bu e
utu hinni ngire
Guma tokko ngalu
ya Guma motumma 1000
itti kienni Sabu
utu Sabu ngire
harkakie diebise 105
1 The blood of Ebiyo Sulle,
2 (is it) the maize of Abba Dula?
3 The daughters of Eba Sulle
4 are noble women (literally, “daughter of man”).
5 We are not Guma,
6 formerly were not sold
7 like negroes.
8 O race of Mussulmen,
9 your mother is Warfidie,
10 your father is a Mussulman.
11 O Suramu (son) of Gawe,
12 you also are a slave,
13 if I am a (free) man.
14 A pullet
15 I have slaughtered and brought to the diviner (Abba Mora).
16 Beforetime, I had not gone to the diviner.
17 among the troopers of this Guma
18 I will kill one for the indicca.
19 The man who has not gone today (to the battle),
20 shall no longer be able to revenge his family (literally, shall not find the
blood-vengeance of his family).
21 O Gada, whose mother is Yambe,
22 (who has) an old cloak of lion’s skin,
23 long since he is here!
24 What blemish has the son of Yambe?
25 He hits only with the point, like Sima.
26 Break for me the cane (of the maize)!
27 O calf of Tokko ndarse,
28 Gada, shepherd of calves!
29 There is a gilla,
30 one man, who is (in value) as ten men.
31 He cultivates the plants ibirku,
32 and he, a python, guards the sheep.
33 Only one has done (this) for us,
34 below, in the plain of Dapo,
35 [do you not wonder, O Guma?]
36 fifteen (soldiers) he took (prisoner),
37 ninety (soldiers) he stabbed.
38 The corpses have made fruitful the land!
39 In the fertile land of Guma,
40 we have reaped the maize.
41 O valiant negro!
42 Hanna is satiated with laughing.
43 Tokko does not know flight.
44 O my hand, O my palm,
45 twist this strap!
46 Woe to you, O my Lord!
47 The child of Handarse Obe,
48 Tokko, has struck down the proud!
49 O coward, why are you afraid?
50 In his father’s land,
51 long since he has done ill.
52 O Mussulman (merchant) of myrrh,
53 sell your myrrh!
54 Why have you ascended the throne?
55 If his throne belongs to us,
56 let him sell jet!
57 If Guma has been defeated,
58 add (to them) also Gimma,
59 and Negita (the king of) the Tambaro!
60 Send to the Tambaro (many ambassadors):
61 fifteen smiths
62 and seventy tanners;
63 the smiths striking on the anvil
64 the tanners scraping (the skins!)
65 They do not know flight!
66 They have descended from heaven
67 to the land of Tokko ndarse.
68 They have descended from heaven
69 as the sorcerer Bukko!
70 O son of Gawe Onco,
71 we will send you a bull!
72 “I will eat nothing,” you have said,
73 “except male sons of men,
74 except blood of men!”
75 A he-goat among the goats
76 I will buy with a (piece of) salt.
77 O Gubir Abba Dingi,
78 that I will send to you
79 who do not know flight.
80 Docce does not reach (the stature of) a man.
81 He is the chief of Mina’s family in Hanna.
82 He does not reject the Godjamians,
83 if he does not enter the Galla (families).
84 O root of the tree botoro,
85 O skin of a fat calf!
86 The race of the Oromo
87 fasts on account of the fear of God!
88 O Suramu, what has become of your (soldiers)?
89 The pagan has gone out of his mind.
90 He has placed that on the throne.
91 He has placed himself below!
92 As Tokko ndarse,
93 he has weeded Kososo.
94 He is called Tola Waqi.
95 He hits with the bakara.
96 The son of Ganna Sabu,
97 the thunderous, has gone down.
98 But for him,
99 no one would have returned to Guma!
100 O Guma, as for the kingdom,
101 give it to him, to (the nephew) of Sabu!
102 But for the nephew of Sabu,
103 not even your grandfathers would ahve remained (living). 104 Your house
would have been burned;
105 your hand would have given back (what you had taken):
106 your wife would have been sold as a slave!
Notes. In verses 1-4, the singer alludes to the sons of Ebiyo, one of the two
guardians of the maize, condemned to servitude by Abba Digga (see above).
Warfidie (v. 5-=13) the mother of Abba Digga, was a Sidama concubine of Onco.
Therefore, Abba Digga, although he was older than Abba Gubir, was destitute of
right of succession to his father’s throne. The custom of consulitng haruspices
(Abba Mora, i.e. Master of the entrails, see v. 14 -16), who read the future
events in the entrails of sheep and cows, is general among the Galla. We
already know the Galla legend about the cow that ate the sacred books, anddn
thenceforth kept it in its peritoneum. Lefebvre 43 after telling a new version
of this legend (the cow is replaced by a sheep) writes: “Les Gallas expriment
cette tradition dans leur langage par les mots suivants, mataf ouakaboueesaa
lone ignate mora te-e ourmone mataf ni mora.” I think the the Galla words quoted
by Lefebvre may be interpreted as follows: mataf Waqa bu e, sa a lon innate,
mora ta e; hara-mmo matafni mora, “the book has descended from heaven, a cow of
the cattle-herd has eaten (it), it (the book) has stuck in the peritoneum (of
the cow); and today the book is the peritoneum.” On the contrary, in Kaffa and
other Sidama countries, the fowl is the sacred animal, holding in its entrails
the secrets of the future. 44 These Sidama beliefs were not unknown in Dapo,
unless the verses 14-16 may be interpreted as another ironical allusion to the
Sidama origin of the slave, mother of Abba Digga. When a pagan Galla kills an
enemy, he does not enter his house on returning after victory until he has
slaughtered a she-goat at the threshold. The sacrifice is called indicca. The
singer (v. 17-18) would sacrifice his indicca by slaughtering a Guma soldier
instead of the usual ox. Verses 21-28 allude to the warrior Gada Yambe born in
Dimtu, a country between Hanna and Qumba. He had taken a holy oath (kaku, see
song 4-6). Abba Gabbi, “shepherd (literally, master) of calves” is the nickname
given to Gada Yambe by his sister-in-law. According to Galla custom, a
sister-in-law may not call her brothers-in-law by their personal names, but she
must address them with a special nickname. There is probably a connection
between this custom and the levirate in force among the Galla. Verses 29-38
mention the warrior, Tura Roba Nonce, born in Bienti near Dimtu. He had gone to
the Abba Muda; therefore he was gilla (see Prose, text 4, notes). The verses
52-56 allude to the origins of the Moslem penetration of these lands, i.e. to
the Arabic merchants who entered the Galla countries beyond the Gibie to buy the
local products, giving in return myrrh and necklaces of jet. (The pagans use
myrrh to supplicate the genii.)
Verses 57-58 allude again ironically to the Sidama origin of Abba Digga’s
mother. The allies fit for Abba Digga are the Tambaro (i.e. the inhabitants of
the well-known Sidama kingdom southwest of Shoa), especially since it was said
that Negita, the king of Tambaro, had been at that time converted to the Moslem
faith. If Abba Digga has recourse to such an ally, he may not send noble Galla
ambassadors to the Sidama who were and are considered by the Galla worthy only
of servitude, but an embassy of low caste men such as smiths and tanners. Bukko
(v. 68) is Abba Bukko, a sorcerer of the Lieqa (see song 44). In the verses
69-70, the singer touches again upon the servitude of the sons of Ebiyo and
Dukkulla, and says to Abba Digga, “An ox or a he-goat is enough to repay you for
the lost maize. Do not desire human blood!” Docce Dangasa (v. 79-82) was a
warrior (of low stature, according to verse 80) belonging to the family of the
Mina Hanna. This family had not reckoned in the Galla tribes of Hanna, but they
pretended to be emigrated Godjamians. As I have said above, the Islamic ritual
ablutions and the fast of Ramadan were the laughing-stock of the pagans. The
verses 84-87 allude clearly to the fast. The verses 87-04 mention a slave of
Tokko ndarse, whose name was Tola Waqi (i.e. Gif of God, Theodore). He fought
valiantly during the battle and was very dear to his lord. Kososo (v. 93) is a
place near Dapo, one of the plantations of maize which occasioned the war.
The last verses of the son nobly commend the bravery of Nagari Ganna, the
warrior born in Dapo and converted to Islam, who stopped the pagan army at
Ebicca Ruya. But for him, Guma would have been wasted. Gollie namatti (v. 4)
“sons of men” means “noble”; in a similar way, ilma abba, “son of father” means
“noble.” The Amharic words ya-saw ligg, “son of man,” are used in the same
sense. Ibirku (v. 31) is a plant often employed to make hedges and enclosures;
therefore, it grows around the huts. The Amara in Shora call it alaltu
(according toe Loransiyos). Siesa (v. 43, 65, 79) is the infinitive of the verb
sies, which in the northwestern Macca dialects (Dapo, Hanna, Gabba) means “to
flee” (other Macca dialects, dies). Sies is probably connected with the Amharic
sasa, “to flee.” Botoro is a big tree (v. 84); bakara (v. 95) is a kind of long
Even after the victories of the pagans and the conquest of the country by the
Christian Amara, the kingdom of Guma remained a centre of Moslem fanaticism.
After submission to Ras Tasamma, who had married Genne Alima, daughter of Abba
Foggi (younger brother of Abba Gubir and last king of Guma), the princes of
Adam’s dynasty remained in the land as officers of the Amara government.
However, Firrisa, the heir to the crown of Guma, fled to Massowah. There he met
Sek Abderoman (this is the Galla pronunciation of the name, Sayh Abdu l-rahmani)
native of Gomma, another fugitive on account of the Shoan invasion. They
(Firrisa and Abderroman) lived together for a long time, making frequent
pilgrimages to Mekkah and Medina. About the years 1899-1900 as it has been
stated, there arose in Guma an agitation against the Shoans. Firrisa went boldly
through Eritrea to Kassala, and thence to the Sudan. Here he assembled some of
his friends along the Sudan-Ethiopic frontier, entered the country of the
Affillo and thence went through Lieqa into Guma. Reaching Ebicca Ruya, he
invited all the chiefs of the land to a meeting, and proclaimed himself king of
Guma, independent of the Amara. Among the chiefs, many submitted to Firrisa
(e.g. Imama, brother of Firrisa, and the governor, Abba Qoro, of Siddi); others
refused the invitation and took refuge in Shoa (e.g. Wayessa, another brother of
Firrisa); others remained neutrals (e.g. the Abba Qoro of Abiera, and also the
famous Moslem warriors, Asin Said and Gufa Rufo). Firrisa during the meeting at
Ebicca Ruya proclaimed a holy war, gihad, against the Christian Amara. Ras
Tasamma sent against him Fitawrari Sagirdie, who was defeated by the Mussulmen
at Laga Santo and driven beyond the Diddiessa. Then Firrisa, carrying out the
plan of his ancestor Abba Gubir, proceeded to Hanna Abba Baro, defeated Hanna’s
army, and burnt the village. Thus began a series of skirmishes between the
armies of Firrisa and Ras Tasamma. The strugle continued for two years, until at
last Firrisa decided to retreat from Guma to Gabba, and to the Sanqilla lands
near the Sudan-Ethiopic frontier.
asin acci kunno, Guririeko
Firrisa bba Gubir, Gubirieko
gara naggaditti, Gubirieko
bor is a nnammatta, Gubirieko
manakiena kottu, Gubirieko 5
lafa Firren ole, Gubirieko
allattin bokoke, Gubirieko
gullanis naffame, Gubirieko
ati gollie Marie, ya Gubir malo
mikeatammo bosi, ya Gubir malo 10
uti atti ngirre, Gubirieko
allattin induti, Gubirieko
gullon soma olti, Gubirieko
ya ilma bba Gubir, Gubirieko
Firrisan indufe, Gubirieko 15
gagna karru lule, Gubirieko
e rdgta bba farda, Gubirieko
Firrisan boduma, Gubirieko
lafo mbusin farda, Gubirieko
asoma na cirre, Gubirieko 20
qierransa guggate, Gubirieko
nienca daccafate, Gubirieko
kuni bu u Gangi, Gubirieko
kiessa ttafate, Gubirieko
Firrisan indufte, Gubirieko 25
amaro gadulle, ya Gubir malo
isinis addatu, ya Gubir malo
gaddani ngudiedo, Gubirieko
kan gara egu rrafu, ya Gubir malo
mati Guma boe, ya Gubir malo 30
guma gumtu sodda, Gubirieko
sil sani gagna, ya Gubir malo
ato fira nqabdu, Gubirieko
Adamin Dulluda, Gubirieko 35
inmurin inqabin, ya Gubir malo
asoma na cire, Gubirieko
garan Gomma diesse, Gubirieko
gadi ma nkadanne, Gubirieko
dalasan ingirtu, Gubirieko 40
gara banti kafa, Gubirieko
bakakkan dalate, Gubirieko
Gufa Rufo farda, Gubirieko
gabanno yo dufte, Gubirieko
ya dalasa Guma, Gubirieko 45
ie sirre bba dula, Gubirieko
atirr indigamte, Gubirieko
dungo qafsifattu, Gubirieko
kiesa barbaddadda, ya Gubir malo
damma Guma busi, Gubirieko 50
yd Ebicca Ruya, Gubirieko
Tomboren immotu, Gubirieko
garani si bate, Gubirieko
warqie mieka base, Gubirieko
hada ma si dalte, Gubirieko 55
utu n igga narge, Gubirieko
handura ndungatte, Gubirieko
utu boru dute Gubirieko
guma abbakies bafte, Gubirieko
guma sani bafte, Gubirieko 60
dibbe miek onsitte, Gubirieko
nagaritti buse, Gubirieko
essa buleta se, Gubirieko
ya Tassma Nado Gubirieko
essati diessita, Gubirieko 65
utu galte Soa, Gubirieko
malinta negusa, Gubirieko
utu Tute ngirre, Gubirieko
nagaritti nafte, Gubirieko 70
Firrisani moe, Gubirieko
asi ma ya Siddi, Gubirieko
lafa goda Siddi, Gubirieko
isen Kudasani, ya Gubir malo
hundise gadida, ya Gubir malo 75
sila Waqa bute, ya Gubir malo
nama miti seno, Gubirieko
ma lieqa uffatte, Gubirieko
hurri daccafatte, Gubirieko
itti tatta fatte, Gubirieko 80
asuman kunnoti, Gubirieko
lafati badda qumba, Gubirieko
qorrisa biniensa, ya Gubir malo
imbu in ya gadi, ya Gubir malo
luggama nqabattu, ya Gubir malo 85
ilani ndandiessu, ya Gubir malo
gara marma didda, Gubirieko
Dapo gar ergattu, Gubirieko
mata gadi qite, Gubirieko
ilma bba Gubiri, Gubireko 90
Wayessan qalloda, Gubirieko
Gubirie Imama, Gubirieko
Imaman marate, Gubirieko
mare hado dite, Gubirieko
du asa dingata, Gubirieko 95
Firrisa biniensa, Gubirieko
sanitu Ambiera, Gubirieko
malifu sodata Gubirieko
ya hado Surriyada, Gubirieko
Ambiera ma nbutu, ya Gubir malo 1000
bunan infonantu, ya Gubir malo
ya ilman Gubirie, Gubirieko
kuy yadon na qabde, Gubirieko
gafa Hanna gubbe, Gubirieko
Qiellem yaddon qabde, Gubirieko 105
negufni nnagiene, Gubirieko
akka Hannan ta e, Gubirieko
naddien qotto bufte, Gubirieko
Iddo Irro farda buse, Gubirieko
kobasa daaddisa, Gubirieko 110
Firrisa bba Gubir, Gubirieko
kobao barate, Gubirieko
akka qallu bbukko, Gubirieko
Tullu Sanqo yabe, Gubirieko
infaga Firrisan, Gubirieko 115
harkisa warqqieda, Gubirieko
namni sammo arge, Gubirieko
agabusa mbulo, Gubirieko
akka Waqa mane, ubirieko
du a nsodatu, ya Gubir malo 120
bu i goda Ambo, Gubirieko
Nonno gara cakka, Gubirieko
kara na kiennitu, Gubirieko
ano ncea! gede, Gubirieko
Garo tarkanfate, Gubirieko 125
Yabalott ergate, Gubirieko
kara cirsifate, Gubirieko
akka Buse Garba, Gubirieko
utu raba bute, Gubirieko
dunnikie kkasirre, Gubirieko 130
guya iama nbulta, Gbuirieko
1 This (man) is here, my Gubirie,
2 Firrisa (nephew) of Abba Gubir,
3 race of Mussulmen, my Gubirie.
4 Tomorrow I will send him a message, my Gubirie.
5 Come into our house, my Gubirie!
6 In the land where Firrisa has dwelt, my Gubirie,
7 The vulture has swelled, my Gubirie,
8 the hyena has fallen sick (by eating corpses).
9 You, son of Maram, O Gubir what is there?
10 How many men have you caused to weep; O Gubir, why?
11 But for you, my Gubirie,
12 the vulture would have died, my Gubirie;
13 the hyena would have lived by fasting, my Gubirie.
14 O son of Abba Gubir, my Gubirie,
15 Firrisa, he has come, my Gubirie,
16 the brave, whose teeth are white jet, my Gubirie!
17 Where are you going, O horseman, my Gubirie?
18 Firrisa is back, my Gubirie.
19 Do not descend from the horse and fight on foot, my Gubirie!
20 The sickle has weeded for me, my Gubirie.
21 The leopard has veiled his head, my Gubirie.
22 The lion has veiled himself two-fold, my Gubirie.
23 This (man) will descend to Gangi, my Gubirie.
24 He has come thence in haste, O my Gubirie.
25 And Firrisa will come, my Gubirie.
26 The Amara are black ants; O Gubir, why?
27 And you are white; O Gubir, why?
28 Fighting, one does not grow fat, O my Gubirie.
29 Those who guard them (the Amara prisoners) do not sleep; O Gubir, why?
30 The wealth of Guma has wept; O Gubir, why?
31 He will get blood-vengeance against his brother-in-law, O my Gubirie,
32 because he is born from a brave stock; O Gubir, what is there?
33 You have no relation, O my Gubirie.
34 O slave of Adam, O my Gubirie.
35 The Adamites are like Dullu, O my Gubirie.
36 “Do not cut! Do not take prisoners!” O Gubir, why?
37 The sickle has weeded for me, O my Gubirie.
38 A belly of Gomma has given birth to him, O my Gubirie.
39 O warrior of the holy war, why do you not pray? O my Gubirie!
40 There is no zawaya, O my Gubirie.
41 Toward the sky of Kaffa, O my Gubirie
42 thunder is born, O my Gubirie.
43 Gufa Rufo, the horseman; O my Gubirie.
44 Even the whole market would have come, O my Gubirie.
45 O enclosure of Guma! O my Gubirie!
46 O throne of the abba dula! O my Gubirie!
47 Before you, it had been knocked down, O my Gubirie.
48 Let him light a torch, O my Gubirie,
49 and seek in the interior; O Gubir, why?
50 Gather the honey of Guma.
51 O Ebicca Ruya!
52 “the mulatoo shall not reign!”
53 The belly which has brought you forth,
54 how much gold has it brought forth?
55 Who is the mother who has given birth to you?
56 If I had seen her with my eyes,
57 I would have kissed her navel.
58 Even if you should die tomorrow,
59 you have (already) got blood-vengeance for your father,
60 you have (already) got blood-vengeance for your relatives.
61 How many drums have you pulled down?
62 You have forced (the enemies) to abandon the war-drums
63 Where has he dwelt?
64 O Tasamma Nado,
65 where have you flown?
66 If you have returned to Shoa,
67 what have you told the emperor?
68 You (O Firrisa) ahve forced (the enemy) to abandon the war-drums.
69 But for Tucco,
70 not one war-drum would have been kept (by the Amara).
71 Firrisa has won!
72 What will you do now, O Siddi?
73 The troopers of the Siddi plain,
74 they are fifteen;
75 they are all warriors of the holy war.
76 Since he is come from the sky,
77 he is not a man.
78 Why ahve the Lieqa put on their clothes?
79 They have doubly veiled themselves with the fog,
80 and they have come to him (Firrisa) in haste.
81 There is, behold,
82 the land of the Qumba plateau
83 It causes the wild beats to freeze.
84 Do not descend here, O warrior fo the holy war!
85 You would not be able to rein (your horse),
86 you would not be able to look.
87 By this valley of the Diddiessa,
88 send messages to Dapo!
89 You have trampled upon their heads (O Firrisa)!
90 The son of Abba Gubir,
91 Wayessa is thin.
92 (The nephew) Abba Gubir, Imama,
93 Imama has gone out of his mind.
94 Going out of his mind, he has trampled upon his mother.
95 May he die suddenly!
96 O Firrisa, wild beast,
97 whose race is Ambiera,
98 why do you doubt?
99 O you, whose mother is Surriya,
100 why do you not descent to Ambiera?
101 Why do you not gather the coffee?
102 O sons of Abba Gubir!
103 I take care of these (people) (literally, the care of these has taken me).
104 When Hanna was burnt,
105 Qiellem was alarmed (literally, the care has taken Qiellem).
106 The Emperor has not heard
107 what Hanna has become.
108 You (O Firrisa) have caused the axes to descend upon the women.
109 You have pulled down Iddo Irro from his horse
110 and he (Iddo Irro) is wandering alone.
111 Firrisa (nephew) of Abba Gubir,
112 he alone has learned.
113 As the sorcerer Abbukko,
114 he has ascended Mount Sanqo.
115 Does Firrisa descend thence?
116 His hand is gold.
117 He who has looked at him
118 dwells fasting.
119 He is as worthy of faith as God.
120 He does not fear death.
121 Descend to the Ambo plain!
122 “The Nonno of these woods
123 let them give way to me!
124 I will pass by!” he ahs said.
125 He has passed the Garo.
126 He has sent messages to Yabalo.
127 He has caused the way to be weeded,
128 even as Buse Garba.
129 If you should descend to (the land of ) the Arabians,
130 your death would follow immediately.
131 You could not dwell (there) two days!
Notes. Firrisa (v. 9) is called son of Maram, i.e. Attete (see song 127). The
verses 20-30 celebrate the victory of Gangi, where the Mussulmen led by Firrisa,
defeated the Amara army of Ras Tasamma. Gangi is a place between Guma and Dapo.
Among the Amara captured during this battle by the Mussulmen, there were many
negro slaves, sanqilla, who had fought together with Ras Tasamma’s army. The
verses 26-27 allude to these negro prisoners. The verses 31-36 sing about the
harshness of Firrisa who fights even against his brother-in-law, Tasamma, (see
the introduction to this song) to revenge his father, Abba Foggi, killed by the
Amara. The princes of Adam’s dynasty, says verse 35, are immovable in their
severity, unshaken as Mount Dullu (a mountain in Gumma). Firrisa is called
garbicca, i.e. “slave” (v. 34) because he had ordered that all the warriors of
this holy war would take the nickname garbicca Rabbi, i.e. “slave of the Lord.”
He had also forbidden his soldiers boasting by calling themselves slaves of
their ancestors, or chiefs. It was the custom among the Galla pagans to sing a
short boasting song, calling themselves “salve of my father” or “slave of the
king.” Also recently Daggac (today Ras) Kabbada had used in boasting the
Amharic cry “ya-Danaw barya,” “the save of Danaw,” that is, Menilek whose
war-name i Abba Danaw (see also Prose, text 2). Besides, Firrisa ordered that
his soldiers should not cut off the genitals of the conquered enemies, as was
usual among the Galla, and that they should not take prisoner in order to gain,
afterwards, great ransoms. The holy war, according to Firrisa, should not
procure profance trophies (v. 36).
Verses 37-40 allude to Sek Abderroman, native of Gomma (see the introduction to
this song). He established in Guma and in the conquered lands many sawaya of the
Tariqah Mirganiyyah. (It is known that the Arabs called zawiyyah, pl. zawaya,
the single seats of the Moslem congregations. The congregations are called in
Arabic tariqah, pl. turuq). The verses 41-42 allude to Asin Said (see the
introduction to this song). Verses 43-44 refer to Gufa Rufo, native of Giera,
who as once obliged to take refuge in Kaffa, because he had been banished form
his native land. He, like Asin Said (song 25), was favorable to the Mussulmen of
Guma, but did not fight in the holy war. Verse 47 alludes to the first
submission of Guma to Ras Tasamma. Verses 48-51 honor the parliament assembled
by Firrisa in Ebicca Ruya (see the introduction to this song). The singer in
verses 50-51 puns on two senses of the word ebicca, name of the aforesaid vilage
and meaning also a plant, vernonia myriocephala, and a kind of dark honey which
is produced by the bees from the flowers of this plant. Verses 52-60 sing about
the mother of Firrisa, who was a slave of Abba Foggi. Therefore, Firrisa had
been insulted by his enemies, who declared that, according to Galla law, the
sons of the the king’s negro slaves must be excluded from the throne. Likewise
Abba Digga, when Gawe Onco died, was obliged to acknowledge that the legitimate
king was his younger brother, Abba Gubir. The verses 61-70 allude to a strange
episode of the battle at Gangi. Ras Tasamma, flying, abandoned the war-drums of
his army, and then sent Tucco Danno to retake them. Tucco with twenty horsemen
defeated the guard of Firrisa and was able to restore this loss. The verses
71-75 praise the bravery of fifteen warriors, natives of Siddi. Siddi is the
place of the tombs of the Guma kings; no strangers were allowed to enter there,
and even today, after the Amara conquest, a proclamation of the Emperor has
forbidden even the soldiers of the Amara governor of the country to enter this
royal cemetery. Verses 78-80 allude to the LiequaHordia, who fo ught with their
chief, Tucco Danno, ally of Ras Tasamma, against the Mussulemn. The verses
81-86 recall the battle at !umba during the fiQst Moslem war (see songs 18-19)
Firrisa took revenge for this defeat of his uncle Abba Gubir, by devastating
Dapo. The verses 90-05 allude to both brothers of Firrisa; Wayessa, who fought
together with his brother and died during a battle against the Christians, and
Imama, who traitor to his family, flew to Shoa to the court of the Emperor. The
verses 96-100 relate to Ambiera, a village where Firrsa had been brought up
during his youth. Therefore, although Ambiera had remained neutral during the
holy war, Firrisa did not assault this village and force it to pay the usual
tribute of coffee. The verses 104-116 sing of the revenge which Firrisa took
against another enemy of his uncle, Hanna, which he pillaged and burned. During
the pillaging of Hanna, Firrisa killed the horse of Iddo Irro, chief of the army
of Abba Bara. Tulu Sanqo (v. 114) is a mountain in the territory of Hanna. On
this mountain Firrisa retreated at the end of the two years of war to attempt
flight toward the Sudan. In the verses 121-127, Firrisa demands of the Nonno an
open way to escape., The Nonno whom he addresses (v. 122) are the Nonno Gacci, a
tribe living westward of Hanna and northwest of Gabba. Ambo (v. 121) is a place
between Hanna and Qumba. Garo (v. 125) is Garo Sanqilla, a river near Gurra
Farda, in the region of Naccaba. Yabalo (v. 126) is the chief village of the
Nonno Gacci. Verse 128 compares Firrisa with Buse Garba, an ancient Galla king
of Horro, who conquered the whole coutnry of Lieqa, many districts of Limmu,
Gimma Abba Gifar and the lands of the Nonno near Limmu. He was father of Ras
Agabu (v. 118) is fasting in a general sense (i.e. not eating) and also in the
pagan religious sense (see song 133, v. 78-80). The Moslem fast is called in
Galla soma, which is an Arabic loan word. In this song (passim) the Moslem
soldiersa re clled gadi, Galla pronunciation of the word gihadi, adjective from
gihad, “holy war.” Thus gadi means “the holy warrior,” “the warrior of the holy
war.” The Christians and the pagans punned on this word, pronouncing it gadi,
that is “little buffalo” (the buffalo is considered a low animal by the Galla,
see song 34, notes). The sawiyyah (se note to the verses 37-40 of this song) is
called by the Galla dalasa, i.e. “enclosure”. Even the residences of the
sorcerers are called dalasa (see song 114, v. 9).
Asin Said (see song 24, v. 41-42) was a native of Gimma Abba Gifar, and husband
of Tullu Abba Gifar’s sister. He was banished from Gimma and went to Guma, where
he became at once famous on account of his Moslem zeal. However, as Abba Gubir
became very partial to him, and gave him great presents, many people in Guma
protested against this favoritism towards a stranger. Then the women of Guma
Sidama gara cabsa
durisa mbullu miti
gimmicca kaba galca
1 The Simara with broken belly,
2 we will not dwell before him.
3 Let the native of Gimma return to (his native) walls!
Then Asin Said, who had heard this song, went to the royal residency and
demanded of the king permission to go to Kaffa. The king asked Asin the reason
for this demand. Asin answered: “Donacco, lafti gurda nqabdu wal incaltu,” that
is, “sire, the land where (the women) have not the gurda, is not the best
(ladn).” As to the gurda, see song 15, notes. And he went to Kaffa; thence he
advanced as far as Giera, when he heard the reports of the return of the Adamite
dynasty to Guma, and the holy war. However, seeing the expedition of Ras Tasamma
already prepared, Asin remained in Giera and did not participate in any battles.
After passing rhough the Nonno coutnry, Firrisa reached Gabba and tried to
convert Fatansa Ilu, the king of Gabba, to the Moslem faith. However, Fatansa
Ilu, as he did not understand the ascetic fervor of Firrisa, and saw that
Firrisa and his companions offered prayers and held religious ceremonies in a
way which appeared to him very strange, imagined that Firrisa was a sorcerer and
imprisoned him. In the meantime, Ras Tasamma went to the frontier of Gabba and
ordered Fatansa to consign Firrisa to the Amara soldiers. Fatansa answered that
Firrisa had been suspected of sorcery while he was a guest of Gabba. Therefore,
he (Fatansa) might condemn Firrisa, but by the ancient customs, he could not
deliver a guest of Gabba to strangers, especially to the Amara, enemies of the
guest. Then Fatansa assembled his army and went to the frontier. In the
meantime, he ordered that during the actions between his army and the Amara, no
food should be given to Firrisa, to enfeeble him and thus hinder him from making
sorceries against Gabba. Since, during the battle the Doranni, led by their
chief, Abba Calla, refused to fight in behalf of their ancient enemy Firrisa,
Fatansa was defeated by Ras Tasamma. However, he imagined that his defeat had
been caused by the sorceries of Firrisa, and returning to his capital, ordered
that Firrisa should be brought before him to inquire whether Firrisa had fasted,
according to orders. The orders had been executed, but it appeared to Fatansa
that, in spite of the fast, Firrisa had la bonne-chere. Then he sang:
qoricca har a isaf ta a turd?
1 O urine, son of urine!
2 He has eaten and grown fat.
3 Had he today a medicine?
Qoricca (v.e), “medicine” is often used to mean “poison,” also “sorcery.”
Gunpowder was called qoricca gawe, “the medicine of the gun,” by the Galla when
firearms were first introduced among them.
After defeating Fatansa, the Amara advanced as far as Bure, the chief village of
Gabba Ilu. Then Fatansa surrendered to Tasamma and consigned to him Firrisa, Sek
Abderroman, and his companions. Sek Abderroman was able to escape; the others
were tried by Ras Tasamma and condemned to death. Firrisa demanded to be
executed holding the Koran in his hands, and before the hanging he cried out
that he would be buried outside Ehtiopia. In fact, says Loransiyos, although
Tasamma had surrounded the gallows with sentries, the corpse of Firrisa
disappeared mysteriously during the night after the execution. The tragic death
of the last prince of Guma made a great and painful impression on the Galla.
Even today, all the Mussulmen of these lands consider Firrisa a saint (wali).
Fatansa Ilu repented delivering Firrisa to Ras Tasamma and feared divine
vengeance. In fact he died after some months, struck by lightning, and the day
after his burial the sepulchre was found open and the bones scattered in the
The following song was composed by a Galla pagan minstrel after hearing the news
of the condemnation of Firrisa. The singer, by threats and prayers, demands an
act of grace for Firrisa. He recalls the power of Firrisa and the battle at Laga
Santo, thus admonishing the Amara not to provoke the Galla to sanguinary
reprisals; then states the relationship between Firrisa and Tasamma. Finally he
threatens divine vengeance against Tasamma, if he should order the execution of
Firrisa and Sek Abderroman (the song was evidently composed before the flight of
ya Adami, guya gafa rbi
bulte gafa nti
qoro bba Wato
hofa bidate 5
mucan soddakie 10
qollo bba caffie
Maryam Amara 15
ilmi bba Gubir
lama hindicca 20
Tasamma Nado 25
si nankaku nno
du a dengata
hinnu nargate 30
wal gubba cibse
gangonni mbuttu 35
ilmi bba Gubir
du a nsodatu
yo du a mali
gede Firrisan 40
ilmi bba Gubir
ilmi bba Gubir
quotton arkatti 45
mal gota gennan
funanen gubba 50
geddt itti ma 55
yo duga dubbi
arara fira 60
isan gorra u 65
duta bba Gubir
sani niencicco 70
ebo si mbaddu
gawe si mbaddu
yo qotto male 75
gubbo mimitta 80
nienci bba Dammie
Makka san daqe
du a nsodatu 85
dutan ma ngiru
badan ma nqabdu
guya gafa rbi 90
yo duga himd
ani sin hima
ilmi bba Gubir
gafa kamisa 95
allatti ta e 100
duga firoma 105
iman si himd
1 O Adam, the day of Wednesday,
2 all were astonished.
3 After one day, the day of Anti,
4 the land of Abba Wato
5 has sharpned its spears.
6 O Firrisa (nephew) of Aba Gubir
7 O belly-cutter,
8 Tasamma Nado
9 has cut your belly,
10 your young brother-in-law.
11 Friday, it has rained.
12 Do not go out of your house!
13 Faysa is angry.
14 In the Abba Caffie,
15 in Mary (venerated) by tehe Amara,
16 Kirro does not believe.
17 The son of Abba Gubir,
18 traitor of the Lord,
19 has killed nine (enemies),
20 has made two sacrifices (indicca).
21 The Moslm missionary grew angry;
22 he offered a sadaqah.
23 The enclosure of the house,
24 oh, if you had (well) constructed it!
25 O Tasamma Nado!
26 He (Firrisa) will not neglect to come.
27 Pass beyond the Diddiessa!
28 Here, there is sudden death.
30 he has found it (i.e. sudden death).
31 Fifty officers
32 in one day.
33 The slave of his Lord
34 has placed him on his own throne.
35 The mule does not bring (the spoils).
36 The son of Abba Gubir
37 does not fear death.
38 “It is good for me,” you have said,
39 “even death!”
40 So has said Firrisa.
41 The son of Abba Gubir
42 is a long sword,
43 weeder of weeds.
44 The son of Aba Gubir
45 is an axe for arms,
46 is a sword for waists,
48 “What are you doing?” we said to him.
49 “The bones of the infidels
50 I collect and burn (them),”
51 I collect and burn (them),”
51 Firrisa has answered.
52 “The noble dynasty,
53 do not waste them (O Tasamma)!”
54 has said your brother-in-law.
55 What he has said, say you to this (i.e. to Tasamma)!
56 O Tasamma Nado
57 if the matter is right,
58 go out of darkness!
59 O valiant man, O Firrisa!
60 Peace between the relatives!
61 The noble family does not debase itself,
62 does not become low caste.
63 The dynasty of Adam
64 does not acknowledge relationship.
65 They slaughter each other.
66 Await us in Gimma!
67 Do not go out of your house,
68 O Tasamma Nado!
69 Abba Gubir is angry.
70 He is a race of lions.
71 “I will not bring for (fighting) you a spear!”
72 he said, and took a holy oath.
73 “I will not bring for (fighting) you a gun!”
74 he said and took a holy oath.
75 “On the contrary (I will bring) the axe!
76 The axe will split;
77 the sword will cut!”
78 has said Firrisa.
79 And Abderroman,
80 burning pepper,
81 native of Gomma,
82 the lion, Abba Dammie,
83 he went five times to Mekkah;
84 he reached Medina.
85 He does not fear death.
86 O Tasamma Nado,
87 you infidels,
88 if you die,
89 what will you become?
90 What will you have after (death)?
91 The day of Friday,
92 the river Santo
93 may testify to it!
94 I will tell it to you.
95 The son of Abba Gubir
96 the day of Thursday
97 at the hour of the asr
98 after the prayer,
99 will go out of his mind (literally, the mind will go out of him).
100 He will be a fool.
101 He will become a vulture;
102 toward the sky
103 wings shall break forth to him.
103 He sall destroy you.
104 Do not go out of your house!
105 With a relative’s good faith,
106 I sincerely advise you!
Notes. The song begins with a description of the astonishment of the inhabitants
when Firrisa unexpectedly appeared in Guma, and the struggle of the Doranni
against Firrisa. Friday was the day sacred to the spirit of Abba Caffie, a
sorcerer of Dapo (see song 29). The Galla, and especially the nobles,
consecrated one day weekly to their guardian spirit. This day they called by the
name of the spirit. The spirit of Abba Caffie was Anti, to whom Friday was
consecrated. Therefore, Friday is called the day of Anti (v. 3). Abba Wato (v.
4) was an officer of the Doranni. The verses 11-13 allude to Faysa Bude, another
Doranni warrior. The verses 14-16 sing about Sek Kirro, a companion of Firrisa.
The singer, a pagan, wonders because Sek Kirro, a Mussulman, believes neither in
the Virgin Mary venerated by the Christians nor in the genii venerated by the
pagan Galla. Note that Maryam (v. 15) means in Galla the Virgin Mary (Maryam is
the Amharic form of this name); whereas Maram means Atete, the goddess of
fecundity (see song 127 and following). The verses 17-22 allude to a strange
tale which had been told in the Galla coutnries about Firrisa. It was said that,
as he had killed nine horsemen, he made before again entering his house, two
sacrifices, indicca (see notes to song 23). It is customary to offer up the
indicca for the killing of one elephant, but as one elephant is valued as five
horsemen (see notes to song 15) Firrisa offered two indicca for his nine
victories. Afterwards he was reproached by the zealous Moslem missionaries
(called by the Galla fuqura. Amharic Fuqra, Arabic, faqir) on account of these
pagan ceremonies and he made a donation to the poor to expiate his sin (these
donations are called in Arabic sadaqah). The verses 23-32 urge Tasamma to fly
beyond the Diddiessa, reminding him of the defeat of Fitawrari Sagirdie at Laga
Santo. The verses 33-36 allude to Docce Dangasa, an officer of Firrisa who had
once fought in behalf of Dapo against Guma. The pagan singer praises him by
calling him “slave of his Lord” (see song 24), thus unconsciously violating the
order of firrisa (see notes to song 24). The verses 52-68 demand the act of
grace for Firrisa on account of his relationship with Tasamma. The verses 63-65
mean, “The other noble families are sensible of family bonds. Why do only the
descendants of Adam kill one another?”
Tasamma, after the victory against Fatansa, returned to Gimma Abba Gifar where
he awaiting the arrival of the prisoners (v. 66). In Gimma, far from Guma,
Firrisa was judged and executed, perhaps because it was feared that there might
be a rebellion of Guma against the sentence. The verses 69-78 refer to an oath
taken by Firrisa not to fight against Christians with the spear (the weapon of
the pagans), nor the gun (the weapon of the Amara Christians) but only with the
axe and the sword. Naturally, however, his soldiers were armed with guns. As to
the holy oath (here the verb kakate is used), see song 143. The verses 79-85
allude to Sek Abderroman (see the introduciton to song 24). Abba Dammie (v. 82)
was the war-name of the Sheikh. The verses 86-93 read: “The Amara infidels must
fear death, but the Mussulmen (i.e. the condemned men, Firrisa and his
companions) have not been afraid of their sentence, because they await eternal
joy. Certainly they ahve not feared death during the battles and the Laga Santo
may testify on this point!” Verse 91 is not Galla, but Amharic: amsa bal-qamis.
Butattu (v. 59) means “valiant;” it is a formula used in the boasting-song.
According to Loransiyos, it is like in its value to the Amharic formula: akaki
zarraf.46 Ake (v. 62) is the general name for the low castes: smiths (tumtu),
hunters (watta), tanners (faqi) etc. Verse 96 is not Galla, but Arabic: ala
l-asr pronounced by the Galla singer (according to the Galla pronunciation), ala
lasiri. Al-asr is the well-known hour of the day in which a special prayer must
be offered according to the Moslem custom.
The chiefs of the Warra Biera, the famous family ruling over the Lieqa Horda
were obliged to fight many times against Gimma Gobbo. First of all, Tucco Danno
defeated and killed Bicce Garba, chief of Gimma Gobbo; then the uncle of Tucco,
Rumicco Biera, defeated at Hufo the king Faysa Lamu, son of Bicce Garba and
well-known among the Galla on account of his strange cruelties:
rieba Biera Ota
Rummie hamma ngiessi
hamma botte giessi
fardan dufte adiemti
naddien Gimma Gobbo 5
lafa Horda mbiegne
nama Kolfa mbeigne
Tute kofaccise 10
Faysa lma Lamu
1 The hero (son) of Biera (son) of Ota,
2 Rumicco, how far does he reach!
3 He (i.e. his stature) reaches a fist.
4 (His) horse comes and goes.
5 The women of Gimma Gobbo
6 he (Rumicco) ahs caused to sahve their heads.
7 In a land where fences had never been raised,
8 in Hufo, he raised his spear.
9 A man, who had never laughed,
10 Tucco, he (Rumicca) has caused to laugh.
11 To Faysa, son of Lamu,
12 he (Rumicco) has given drink with his spear (i.e. has caused the blood of
Faysa to flow).
Notes. To shave one’s own head is a sign of mourning (v. 6). Kolfa mbiegne (v.
9) lit. “he does not know laughing,” i.e. “he had never laughed,” is an unusual
construction. Similarly, the Amharic runs, siqo ayawqim, “having laughed, he
does not know.”
Tucco Danno also fought, druing the Amara invasion, against Moroda, the chief of
Lieqa Naqamte, who after the Amara conquest was appointed daggazmac. Moroda who
favored the Shoans, joined Ras Gobana and followed him first into Gimma Abba
Gifar and then into Dilatlo and Imbabo during both actions between Ras Gobana
and the Godjamians led by Ras Daraso (see song 39). Tucco Danno, on the
contrary, joined the Godjamians, and fought with them during the entire war.
Here is Moroda’s song of defiance against Tucco.
manikie yo manako cala
mallikie yo malako cala
hidankiena sambata tokkorre 5
dubbi waq gede
akka Waqtu cala
robi wal agrre
matif naddien imbafna 10
atis fida ras Drasukie
anis fida Gobana Danciko
arfasan yogga barite
Abba Caffie wamadinna
atis ayanakie Giggo Bacco kadaditia 15
torbani lamattu wal agarra
du a sodatani nafani
kani bira nama hunduma nan danqiera
1 We will cut the stalks of kekku,
2 if your house is better than my house.
3 We will become your servants,
4 if your wit is better than my wit.
5 Is our appointment for Sunday definite?
6 Yes! I have said the word of God!
7 I am strong as God!
8 Our appointment is for Sunday.
9 Wednesday we have met.
10 Let us bring our wealth and our women (as stakes of the combat)!
11 You will lead your Ras Daraso.
12 I will lead my Gobana Danci,
13 when autumn breaks forth.
14 We will call Abba Caffie.
15 You will pray to your genius, Giggo Bacco.
16 We will meet twice in the week.
17 Those who fear death cannot escape from it!
18 I have paid my tribute to the Emperor.
19 Except him (the emperor), I will fight (lit. make trenches) against all.
Notes. Kekku (v. 1) is a plant the stem of which resembles the stem of sorghum.
The Amara call it gimmuga. The armies of Ras Daraso and Ras Gobana met each
other twice (v. 9), the first time at Dilalo in Nonno’s land on a Wednesday, the
second time at Imbabo on a Sunday (see songs 39, 40). Abba Caffie) (v. 14), was
a famous sorcerer, native of Dapo; Giggo Bacco was a sorcerer of Lieqa Horda (v.
The four following songs belong to the class of poems called by the Galla farsa.
They are long poems with short verses, in which are celebrated the most famous
warriors of the tribe, particularly by recalling their ancestors on the father’s
and the mother’s side. They are the poetical expression of the bonds which unite
the members of the tribe. They are the boasting songs of the tribe as a whole,
as opposed to the boasting-songs of the single warriors which are called
gierarsa. Here is the farsa of the clan Laga Arti of the tribe Lieqa Billo.
tofo adi qado
afan bolla qaya
Goro Nabi Bato
ya bba Goggam faya
fudu qoro sadi 5
gara cakka gadi
tia gofta gala
lommotto tombure 10
kan Daqa kan Qorka
lafa dabi naddi
lafa dabi callie
acci kai darbi
rieba Dasa Ose 15
Dole olu manna
dulli olu manna
dulli olu waya
fardiel Laga Garti
isen mana calti
isen biya calti 20
ya daccie barari
ya qollo gargari
soddan Warra Biera
kolfan farda liela
Lota lokko diera 25
dirsi Loggo Biera
dirsi Diso Bula
akka nciro mura
rieba Siefi Simbo
Ligdi Robie Wallo 30
Lidgi amma ndufu
gara rfasa dufa
darda lbasa bula
ya kallo fal laga
soddan Dati nsiene
ya Wallo bba Qaba
Wallo gollien torba
gute gagge kolfa
morki golie golfa
gaggamo midani 40
gabbi Roris Baka
Wataro kan isani
rieba Bulgu Dora
Tullu Dansie qallu
amarti guticca 45
abba adi guddicca
ala latti bieku
Kolobo afan kiyo
ginni fan Badiessa 50
gabbi Rasu Guddi
qufe mullu dabo
Qupe lubbu lafo
ya mura fan killo
ya Tura bba Billo 55
niti Biyo Garba
dirsin kora dirbi
lafon duga loltu
Qiltu Roba girti 60
1 The pure, white cup
2 is burned at the edge of the ditch.
3 O Goro Nabi Bato!
4 O safety of the lord of Goggam!
5 Take three districts
6 and the forests down there!
7 The maize has ripened.
8 (Like) the moon (he is) under his lord,
9 the negro of my lord,
10 the robust mulatto!
11 Daqa and Qorka!
12 Plant in the ground necklaces a jet!
13 Plant in the ground anklets!
14 Put them here and go away!
15 The hero (son) of Dasa Ose,
16 Dole, why is he absent?
17 (Then) it is better not to go to war!
18 O horsemen of Laga Garti!
19 It (i.e. Laga Garti) is the best house!
20 It is the best land!
21 O dacce, be propitious (to us)!
22 O qollo, aid (us)!
23 The son-in-law of the Warra Biera
24 pushes forward his horses, laughing.
25 Lota with the long bridle,
26 the husband of Loggo Biera,
27 the husband of Diso Bula,
28 he cuts down (his enemies) like stalks of sorghum.
29 The hero (son) of Sieff, (son) of Simmbo,
30 Ligdi (son) of Robie, (daughter) of Wallo,
31 Ligdi does not come now.
32 He will come in the autumn.
33 He will terrrify the horses (lit. he will cause the horses to have colic).
34 O grass at the borders of the river!
35 The son-in-law of Dati nsiene,
36 Wallo father of Qaba.
37 Wallo has seven sons.
38 He laughs, standing upright in Gute,
39 the sutbborn man whose sons are demons.
40 O sickle for corn!
41 The sons (lit. the calves) of Rorrisa Bakarie,
42 Wataro is their land!
43 The hero, son of Bulgu (son) of Dora,
44 Tullu (son) of Dansie, the sorcerer,
45 with rings and ear-rings,
46 he beats the fingers.
47 Lord of a great white horse,
48 he is known in every country.
49 The Kolobo, whose mouth is a snare,
50 the demons of the banks of the Badiessa,
51 sons of Rasu Guddi.
52 I am full of boiled pulse and pudding.
53 Qupe, soul of the warriors!
54 O cutter of borders of wooden bowls!
55 O Tura, lord of (the horse) Billo!
56 The wife of Biyo Garba,
57 Dirsi stitches the saddles.
58 He (Biyo Garba) is a trooper truly valiant,
59 but he is cruel.
60 He is a Qiltu Roba.
Notes. As I have already remarked (see notes to song 4), very frequently in
these Galla songs there is a parallelism of sound between two verses. The first
verse in this case is in no way connected with the sense of the song, but it is
introduced merely to make with its syllables, similar to the syllables of the
second verse, the aforesaid parallelism. This parallelism is used especially in
the farsa; there are many examples of it in the preceding song: v. 1-2 with v.
3-4; v. 7 with v. 9; v. 34 with v. 36; v. 52 with v. 53; v. 54 with v. 55.
The first hero named in the song is Goro Nabi Bato (v. 3-6). He stood by the
king of Goggam, Takla Haymanot (at that time ras) during the unfortunate
expeditions against Kaffa. Once, the soldiers of Kaffa unexpectedly reached the
Omo where the armies were encamped, and under the protection of the night,
attacked the Amara camp, massacring the Godjamians and the Galla of Gimma Abba
Gifar, allies of Ras Adal. (Takla Haymanot was the royal name taken by Ras Adal
at the time of his coronation.) Then Goro Nabi Bato, who was on the other side
of the camp, running to join the combat cried: “Ya bba Goggam, an abbankie
dufera nsodatin!” “O Lord of Goggam, I have come! I, your protector, do not
fear!” He defeated the Kaffa and thus saved Ras Adal. Then Ras Adal gave him
three districts at the frontier of Goggam.
Verses 7-12 extol two brothers, Daqa and Qorka, sons of a negro slave. The
singer warns the enemy not to stand against Daqa and Qorka, and to abandon to
them that which they desire. The daccie and the qollo (v. 21-22) are two kinds
of genii venerated by the Galla. 48 The verses 23-28 allude to Lota Moti,
husband of Loggo, sister of Tucco Danno. The suggestion of the other wife of
Lota (v. 27) demonstrates the spread of polygamy in these Galla countries. Gute
(v. 38), Wataro (v. 42) Badiessa (v. 50), Qiltu Roba (v. 60) are districts of
the Laga Garti clan in Lieqa Billo. The verses 43-48 sing about the sorcerer,
Tullu Dansie, who is so wealthy that he uses rings and earrings, instead of a
whip to beat the fingers of his servants. As it is known, the whip (alanga) is a
sign of power among the Galla.
Here is the farsa of the claln Bua Sorga, belonging to the tribe Lieqa Naqamte
on the fronntier between the territory of Moroda and the territory of Lieqa ibu.
ya dadi gola boka
natt urgofte lolli gota
figanirre kotti ya boko
garro kka bakakka, ya gollie
sole gibilcate, ya gollie 5
Sone disasu gae, ya gollie
nu ha-basu dacce, ya gollie
komerratti mila, ya gollie
dubbi Morodare, ya gollie
nu ha-basu dacce, ya gollie 10
Dilicca bba biya, ya gollie
gilako gilako, ya gollie
Sibuttu gilako, ya gollie
foronca buqqiedga, ya gollie
Morodan Urgieda, ya gollie 15
malo gollie, Baka Godi, ya gollie
Dinqa Gorgie, Giecco, ya gollie
babatte gindida, ya gollie
muca Baka Godi, ya gollie
Amanten Iggida, ya gollie 20
gibi korne lule ya gollie
gafa bu e raba, ya gollie
duka ole bule, ya gollie
irratto muranti, ya gollie
malo gabbi Baka Godi, ya gollie 25
ciracco Gumari, ya gollie
godi bate, ya gollie
mana dubba nqottu, ya gollie
bitacca Bakartie, ya gollie
Qanno ya bba Dilba, ya gollie 30
gurracca kka ayana, ya gollie
bien na duka yana, ya gollie
an offa nqinqime, ya gollie
wambari nigusa, ya gollie
ya Burca Titille, ya gollie 35
ya bba banti gidda, ya golie
siba ganne ngurrae, ya golllie
enun naqe na fidd, ya gollie
Gidda fardien hurra, ya gollie
folata gag gure, ya gollie 40
muca Bona Dula, ya gollie
Qabata ya Ulce, ya gollie
bakakka Bacuie, ya gollie
gird gilli tokko, ya gollie
gara nuf ha-dissu, ya gollile 45
ya Comugie Bona, ya gollie
sif salpina ule, ya golie
abban cibsa ulle, ya gollie
nagai fayuma, ya gollie
garri kan calluma, ya gollie 50
asuma na cirre, ya gollie
badu burcuccuda, ya gollie
harkarrdit abuku, ya gollie
batu kun tumtuda, ya gollie
kan farddit uluqu, ya gollie 55
mucca mott Horo, ya gollie
Gaye darba giessa, ya gollie
malu fardien fira, ya golllie
lafo Bu a Bayi, ya gollie
kuni Dappo Gennan, ya gollie 60
waqaran qartami, ya gollie
kuni Babbo gennan, ya gollie
butu gara cakka, ya gollie
na garan tas gabi, ya gollie
si garan attami, ya gollie 65
akkaonko durba, ya gollie
hadikos naddieni, ya gollie
lafon duga loltu, ya gollie
toro ofi badatti, ya gollie
torbi baccifatte, ya gollie 70
niti ndiene male, ya gollie
kan samita nattu, ya gollie
ise nsifesini, ya golllie
lafo llolle male, ya gollie
kan innaro battu, ya gollie
ise nmikesini, ya gollie
ya niti bosietti, ya gollie
si bieka bukokie, ya gollie
buko ciqqillieke, ya gollie
lafon duga loltu, ya gollie 80
si bieka guokie, ya gollie
kan qilliessi rasu, ya gollie
lafon tokko girte, ya gollie
kuti bu a baeli, ya gollie
guo ciqqillieke, ya gollie
kan qilliessi rasu, ya gollie
Diddiessa gamattu, ya gollie
Baro bittinfattu, ya gollie
Lieqa gama gese, ya gollie
gama sirbisise, ya gollie 90
hada lma tokkicce, ya gollie
ilmase hagese, ya gollie
hada siribsise, ya gollie
gidada Robada, ya gollie
ilmi Oba Bare, ya gollie 95
insodatu du a, ya gollie
ginni kka bakakka, ya gollie
fardarra ndamadda, ya gollie
Nagi Bago Liesso, ya gollie
gabbi Oba Bare, ya gollie 100
itt adiema urge, ya gollie
indaqe na fidd, ya gollie
lafo Gubba Gombo, ya gollie
agada na cabsi, ya gollie
ya Gada bba Sambo, ya gollie 105
Gimala Gimale, ya gollie
muca Girgo Warri, ya gollie
funon itt an citte, ya gollie
Bullon midagditti, ya golllie
Gabbi Gimalieda, ya gollie 110
Wayin Abba Kotte, ya gollie
soddan Bakarieda, ya gollie
ormaf dabarieda, ya gollie
indaqe na fidda, ya gollie
lafo Bu a Sorga, ya gollie 115
Nagi Smobe Ube, ya gollie
abba Bu a Soga, ya gollie
Wandon kan kiessuma, ya gollie
Kuma bba Qalangi, ya gollie
gaba mal naggaddi, ya gollie
Sola Salo Obo, ya gollie
Dinqi Some Dano, ya gollie
adara ya lmako, ya gollie
sitt ergadda no, ya gollie
gard siesa mbiegne, ya gollie 125
lafo Bu a Sorga, ya gollie
1 hydromel of the storehouse, O old hydromel!
2 (Like the hydromel) I smell the valiant warriors.
3 Those of Kotti run, O my Lord!
4 They are like thunder, O children!
5 The plant of sole has shot up, O children!
6 Sone is about to deluge, O children!
7 Let the dacce save us (from Sone)! 49
8 On the ankle is the leg!
9 From Moroda (lit. from Moroda’s matter)
10 let us save the dacce!
11 Dilicca, chief of the land,
12 my terror, my terror!
13 Sibu is my terror!
14 The pulse among the pumpkins!
15 Moroda, son of Urgie!
16 What are the sons of Bakarie Godano?
17 Dinqa, son of Gorgie Gieco!
18 the ploughshare and the plough-handle!
19 The son of Bakarie Godano,
20 Amante, son of Iggi,
21 hyena with thin ankles!
22 When the Arabians descended here,
23 he pursued them day and night
24 by cutting them off from above.
25 Where are the sons of Bakarie Godano?
26 Cirracco, the son of Gumai,
24 descends for the expedition.
28 He does not plough behind his house.
29 O left-handed (son) of Bakarie,
30 O Qanno, lord of (the horse) Dilba,
31 black as a beneficent genius!
32 Come on, follow me, O beneficent genius!
33 I have cut the canes.
34 The judge of the Emperor,
35 Burca, son of Titille,
36 chief of Gidda,
37 while we sing about him, he becomes famous.
38 Who will go and bring him to me?
39 The horses of Gidda are like shrubs for torches.
40 I have collected the wood.
41 The child of Bona Dula,
42 Qabata, son of Ulce,
43 the thunder of Bacurie.
44 There is a gilla.
45 This, we will leave him!
46 O Comugie, son of Bona.
47 For your dishonor was avoided!
48 The master of cows has remained (there).
49 How do you do, O Nagai?
50 Those are the best (warriors).
51 The sickle has weeded for me.
52 The curds have curdled.
53 You can eat them with your fingers.
54 Is this so brave a smith?
55 He jumps on the horse.
56 The son of Moti Horo,
57 Gaye hurling hits (the enemy)
58 What (may be said) about the kindred horsemen?
59 The trooper of Bu’a Bayi!
60 On calling the white sorghum,
61 the millstone has broken.
62 On calling Babbo,
63 “He will descend to this forest!”
64 My mind has rejoiced,
65 and what says your heart?
66 My aunt is a girl,
67 my mother is a woman.
68 The trooper truly valiant
69 has burdened himself with seven,
70 has caused seven to be brought.
71 A woman who has not brought forth,
72 may she eat boiled pulse?
73 This does not satiate her.
74 A soldier who has not fought,
75 may he bear the parade-shield?
76 This does not indicate him (i.e. is not his proper sign).
77 O rough woman,
78 I can recognize you by your leavened cake,
79 by the leavened cake which you have on your elbow.
80 O soldier truly valiant,
81 I can recognize you by your red shirt
82 which is moved by the wind!
83 There is a trooper.
84 He has come to Kotti Bu’a.
85 The red shirt on is elbow
86 is moved by the wind!
87 Those of the other bank of the Diddiessa
88 have pased the Baro.
89 He who has killed the Lieqa of that bank
90 has caused the Lieqa of this bank to dance.
91 The mother of an only son,
92 he has killed her son.
93 He has caused the mother to dance!
94 Gidada son of Roba,
95 the son of Oba Bare,
96 he does not fear death.
97 Demon, thunderlike,
98 standing on the horse, he sends (spears).
99 Nagi (son) of Bago (son of Liesso,
100 the calf of Oba Bare,
101 where he comes, smells.
102 Who will go and bring (him) to me?
103 Trooper of Gubba Gombo,
104 break for me the canes of sorghum!
105 Gada Abba Sambo,
106 Gimala (son) of Gimalie,
107 the child of Girgo Warri.
108 Pulling the rope, has broken it.
109 Bullo is a beautiful warrior.
110 He is the calf of Gimalie.
111 Wayi, lord of (the horse) Kotte,
112 is the son-in-law of Bakarie.
113 He is a hurler of spears for others.
114 Who will go and bring (him) to me?
115 The trooper of Bu a Sorga,
116 Nagi (son) of Somba (son) of Ube!
117 O Chief of Bu a Sorga,
118 Wando is your land!
119 O Kumsa, lord of (the horse) Qalangi!
120 What can I sell to the market?
121 (The son) of Sala (son of Salo (son) of Obo.
122 Dinqi (son) of Some (son) of Dano.
123 I beseech you, my son!
124 I will send messages to you!
125 He does not know flight,
126 trooper of Bu a Sorga.
Notes. After mentioning Kotti Bu a, the chief family of Bu a Sorga (v. 1-4),
the singer alludes to the neighboring chiefs, Sone and Mordoda, both feared on
account of their bravery (v. 5-7, 8-10); then sings about Dillicca, brother of
Sone (v. 11-13). Next, he enumerates the sons of Bakarie Godano; the first is
Moroda, whose mother was Urgie (v. 14-15); the second is Dinqa, whose mother was
Gogi Giecco (v. 16-17); then Amante, whose mother was Iggi (v. 18-25). Amante
was an officer (fitawrari) of Ras Gobana and fought together with his chief
against the Dervishes when they invaded Wallaga and Lieqa (see song 49). Antoehr
younger son of Bakarie is Cirracco (v. 25-28) whose mother was Gumari. As may be
seen, there are enumerated four wives of Bakarie: Urgie, Gorgie Giecco, Iggi,
Gumai. The last son of Bakarie is Qanno (v. 29-32). As to the words “black as a
beneficent genius,” see song 138, notes. The verses 33-39 allude to Bura, chief
of the village Gidda, (his mother was Titille) but a native of Bu a Sorga. The
verses 40-46 allude to the two brothers, Qabata Bona and Comugie Bona. The
mother of the former was Ulce, and the land which was governed by him was
Bacurie in the territory of Bu a Sorga. The verses 47-50 allude to a warrior,
Nagari, who evidently is not Nagari Ganna (see song 23). This other Nagari was a
rich owner of cattle. The verses 51-56 sing of Gaye, son of Moti Horo, a
valiiant horseman, and the verses 57-65, of Babbo, native of the family Bu a
Bayi, belonging to the clan Bu a Sorga. After a few verses on the general
subject of gallantry, which make an interlude and a pause in the long
enumeration of the warriors (v. 66-82), the singer celebrates the exploits of
Gidada whose father was Oba Bare and whose mother was Roba. During a war between
the two Lieqa (i.e. the confederation of the five Lieqa tribes and the Wallaga),
Gidada fighting together with Tucco Danno and Kumsa (see song 32) against
Wallaga, killed a traitor, and although Lieqa was standing by Wallaga, Gidada
himself brought to the mother of the traitor the news of her son’s death. The
mother danced for joy on learning this news, which, however sad, cancelled the
dishonor of her family.
Verses 99-103 allude to the brother of Gidada, Nagi Oba Bare, whose mother was
Bago Liesso; the country of Nagi was Gubba Gombo. the song ends with references
to several warriors; Gada Abba Sambo; the two brothrs, sons of Gimalie, Gimala
and Bullo; Wayi, son-in-law of Bakarie; Nagi, son of Sombe Ube and governor of
the Wando marshes; Sala, son of Salo Obo.
The sole (v. 5) is a tree, the smaller branches of which are used by the Galla
to cure toothache. The leaves of this tree are also used to check discharges
from the eye. Loransiyos tells me that they rub the teeth with twigs of the
kole; the rubbing causes a hemorrhage, after which the toothache disappears.
Loransiyos adds that a French doctor has studied this tree, and, moreover,
collects many twigs of it and sends them to France. The Amara calls it ingim.
This is the farsa of the tribe, Lieqa Naqamte.
rieba Mori Baka
Kumsan Gosa Rufo
gege bara kani 5
middan nu naccise
Siegotti rra bu e
sangan hieto hage
muca Mori Baka 10
ati mayo llolti
abban Giebo Gare
si Waq nu gudisa 15
Ligdi mana mbase
manan Gato gira
guan Dapo gira
yogga in kiefo gode 20
Lieqa na dabasa
dirsa Sieko Golbe
Sida bba Yabasa
Bonin Gibie gale
farda dibbe ta e 25
gaba mal naggadi
rieba Abdi Baso
want abba Qalangi
wanta mana bate
mana dubba nqottu 30
manno si addate
wanta gadi bate
farda ndura nkuttu
malin si fakkate
fotanan him aru 35
an agesu gede
guma bbako gede 40
Sawan dibba sani
1 The hero (son) of Moroda (son) of Bakarie,
2 Kumsa (son) of Gosa (daughter) of Rufo,
3 has paid tribute to the Shoans,
4 has stood against the Godjamians.
5 In this time of famine,
6 he has given us corn to eat.
7 He has ascended toward the Gibie,
8 he has descended from there to Siego.
9 The horse has evacuated a tape-worm.
10 The child of Moroda (son) of Bakarie,
11 Kumsa himself fights.
12 Why do you not fight?
13 O Lord of Giebo Gare,
14 judge of the Emperor,
15 may God increase you in our behalf!
16 The thunder (son) of Bakarie,
17 Ligdi (son) of Hanbase,
18 his house is in Gato,
19 his fame (reaches) Dapo.
20 When I have collected the kiefo,
21 The Lieqa men still annoy me (i.e. by demanding some kiefo of me).
22 The husband of Sieko Golbe
23 Sida, father of Yabasa.
24 The Bonaya have returned to the Gibie;
24 the horses have become sick.
26 What can I buy at the market?
27 The hero (son) of Abdf (son) of Baso,
28 the shield of the lord of (the horse) Qalangi,
29 Wanta has gone out of the house;
30 he will not plough behind his house.
31 Your wife is white for you.
32 Wanta has gone out below.
33 Please do not cut the navel of the horses.
34 How does it seem to you?
35 The tobacco with light leaves does not burn.
36 Bosara Bidard:
37 “Amara during one week
38 I will kill!” he said.
39 “I will not anoint myself!” he said.
40 “It is the blood-price of my father!” he said.
41 “Seventy Godjamians,
42 one hundred and five Shoans!
43 It is the blood-price of my father!” he said.
44 “Now take counsel,
45 pay the tribute.”
Notes. The farsa begins by extolling the bravery of the chief of the Liequa
Naqamte, Kumsa Gabra Igziabher, son of Moroda Bakarie. Kumsa is his pagan name;
when he was baptized, he took the Christian name Gabra Igziabher (i.e. in
Ethiopic, Slave of God, lit., Slave of the Lord of the Earth). After the death
of his father Moroda , Kumsa was appointed daggac and governor of his father’s
land. Gosa (v. 2) was the mother of Kumsa. Kumsa, like his father, was always
loyal to the Shoans; he made an expedition against Siego (v. 7-8) a place
between Shoa and Lieqa. Verse 9 alludes to the fright of the warriors of Siego
assailed by Kumsa; even the horses, on seeing Kumsa, have evacuated the worms
living in their bellies! Giebo Gara (v. 13) is a large territory in Lieqa
Naqamte, fief of Kumsa. The verses 16-19 allude to Kumsa’s uncle, Lilgdi
Bakarie, owner of the territory of Gato in Lieqa Naqamte (see songs 19, 20). The
verses 24-25 refer to the secession of the Bonaya family, who, after a contest
with Kumsa, left Lieqa Naqamte and camped near the frontier of Limmu on the
banks fo the Gibie. The verses 22-23 allude to the warrior Sida Tufa, father of
Yabasa and chief of Hindieba Gacci (see Prose, text 9). The kiefo (v. 20) is an
aromatic plant. 50 The verses 26-34, singing of the warrior Wanta, pun on his
name which in Galla means “shield.” Abba Qalangi (i.e. lord of the horse,
Qalangi) is the war-name of Kumsa.
Verses 35-45 describe the terrible vengeance taken by the warrior, Bosara Bidau
upon the Amara. When the Soans advanced to conquer Lieqa, Daggac Lul Saggad,
commandant of an Amara corps, received the peaceful surrender of the clan Lieqa
Wayo. However, after entering the country, the Amara soldiers began to sack and
pillage the huts of the Galla. During this plundering, Bidaru, father of Bosara
was killed. Then his son, a youth of seventeen, devoted himself to a relentless
hunting of Amara. Following the Shoan troops on their march, he assailed all the
soldiers, who, disbanding in their usual way, detached themselves from their
comrades. Bosara did not anoint his head with butter because of these victories
for the reasons stated in song 34.
Here is the song 51 of the tribe Sulu Mane, living bewteen Limmu, Shoa, and
Liban Tokko. The bribe paid tribute to Fitawrari Habta Giyorgis (see song 35):
yabate bu arre G.S.B.: bu’are
ya Bato Gu a
asin ol goru
ya Sido Boru
lafo Gabbara 10
qiensan falfala G.S.B.: qiensan
ya Garo Binno
lienca Gabbara B.S.B.: lienca
an tofo sofe
ya Ogo Lofe 15
gu a nrasanu
du a nfsarsanu
magan ya gu a 20
elemtu gogse G.S.B.: elimtu
magan ya du a
kan gari dokse
warie ballese 25
kan dulli wame
tumattu rka rbora 30 G.S.B.: tumattu rka rbora
ol gorika sit an damada
magan ya gu a
magan ya du a 35
kan gari dokse
ya Ogo Korma
sitt abba fardatti
ergaddu lokon si dira 40
ya Coro Coni
sitt abba fardatti
ergaddu lokon si dira
hindanqon korma 45
wal qitte Bogbo
Girgo Calcisa 50
lienca Gubba lielu
Girgo Bogiett an farsae 55
1 He has ascended. Will he descend
2 to the ground of the threshing floor?
3 O Bato Gu a,
4 you are the trooper of Sobgi.
5 I scratch my head.
6 Ofa (son) of Gada!
7 Here shall be raised
8 the grass of the desert.
9 O Sido Boru,
10 trooper of Gabbara,
11 with the nails he hurls spears!
12 O Garo Binno,
13 lion of Gabbara!
14 I have filled the cup,
15 O Ogo Lofe!
16 With cows which have no milk, one cannot make butter,
17 (but) they do not cease bringing forth (calves).
18 For the dead (warriror), one does not sing farsa,
19 (but) one does not forget his renown.
20 O cow without milk,
21 you have made the milk pot dry,
22 you have hung up [forever] the rope of milking!
23 O death,
24 you have hidden (from us) the valiant (warriors);
25 you have wasted the renown!
26 In the market of the barley
27 the rat has eaten.
28 O Raba (son) of Bargu,
29 the war has called (us)!
30 Slayer with the point of the spear, owner of the armlet of ivory,
31 after ascending, I will speak with you!
32 O cow without milk,
33 you made the milk pot dry;
34 you have hung up (forever) the rope for milking!
35 O death,
36 you have hidden (from us) the valiant (warriors);
37 you have wasted their renown!
38 O Ogo (son) of Korma,
39 you horseman,
40 send (to me) your bridle; I will stitch it for you!
41 O Naparieso!
42 O Coro Coni!
43 You horsemen,
44 send (to me) your bridle; I will stitch it for you!
45 The cock
46 crows three times;
47 once causes the day to dawn.
48 Likewise Bogibo.
49 Three (sons of his) distinguish themselves.
50 Girgo is the best.
51 Fumonu distinguishes himself.
52 Qurienu distinguishes himself.
53 Girgo is the best!
54 The lion of Gubba Alielu,
55 Girgo (son) of Bogie, I will sing (of him) in my farsa!
Notes. Verses which have no sense, but are sung only for the sound parallelism
(see song 30) are very frequent in this song (e.g. 1-2, 5t-6, 7-8, etc.) Sobgi
(v. 4) is a place in the Sulu territory near Liban Tokko; the population is
Mohammedan. Gabbara (v. 10, 13) is a village near Liban Tokko at the bank of the
river Bisan Gabbara. As to “the rope for milking” (v. 22), it is a Galla custom
to bind the feet of the cows before milking them. These special ropes are
called Gadi. The armlet of ivory (v. 30) belongs only to the slayer of one
elephant (see song 15, notes). Gubba Alielu is a place, probably a hill, between
Sulu and Limmu (v. 54)
The warrior Bosara Bidaru, after the massacre of the Amara (see song 32, v.
35-45), sang this song:
kan abba butta nqallu
gana hati rako nqabdu
dada dibbaccun sala
1 (Warriors) whose father does not make the sacrifice of the butta,
2 whose mother has not yet received the sacraifce of the rako!
3 After killing such warriors,
4 it is contrary to custom to anoint one’s self with butter.
Notes. Similar outrageous words are quoted by Bhrey in his Historia Gentis
Galla. 52 The Galla are forbidden to anoint themselves with butter after killing
ignoble beasts, i.e. all beasts which, after receiving the shot, cry out. Thus,
the buffalo is ignoble, becasue if it is wounded, it lows as a cow; and,
according to a prcolamation of Bakarie Godano, even the elephant is ignoble
among the Lieqa Naqamte tribe, because many elephants roar when they were
wounded. The Amara are compared by the singer to ignoble beasts, because (v.
1-2) they have none of the signs that distinguish men from beasts according to
the Galla standard, i.e. offering the sacrifice of the Butta and the sacrifice
of the rako. The butta is a great galla festival which each tribe celebrates
ever eight years. It is connected with the initiation ceremonies (see song 142
and Prose, text 4). The rako is the sacrifice which legalizes a wed ding(see
Nuptial Songs). A woman”receives the rako” when she is anointed with the blood
of the victim sacrificed for the rako.
The Sulu Galla, as I have already said (song 33), paid tribute to Fitawrari
Habta Giyorgis. This chief, after a great murder followed by many blood
vengeances, proclaimed that blood revenge must be abrogated in the territory
governed by him. The Galla law concerning adultery reads: “The offended consort
must kill the adulterous consort and his companion to take vengeance for their
crime.” Habta Giyorgis, on the contrary, decided that for the killing of the
adulterer, could be sustituted payment of a fine equal to the blood-price, by
the adulterous consort to the injured husband. The proclamation excited the
protests of the Sulu, who considered the abrogation of this ancient custom
impious. As Habta Giyorgis did not retract his proclamation, the Sulu rebelled
against him. The emperor Menilek, following his policy of great toleration of
Galla customs, removed Fitawrari Habta Giyorgis from his command, and gave the
governorship of the Sulu to Daggac Haylie Guddisa, brother of Ras Makonnen (see
song 82). Haylie Guddisa, as the first act of his government, abrogated the
proclamation of his predecessor, and re-established the ancient Galla law. Then
a Sulu minstrel sang:
kan duri dubbi balliese
abban oda baga dute
garbicci gommana bute
duftu sani Guddisati
sani moti durattiti 5
gati dalfa dalfa natu
tuttumatta gede goftan
ilm abba firdi fudada
gasicci dubbi baliese 10
ta e cabsa galce basa
Diso ya Diso bo rqieko
diso fardi gatamakie
dubbi fitawrari Gorgieko
gafa Soa daqe goftan 15
karan qintirro nqagele
dubbi bba qurta sanoso
kiyessi gifti kagele
1 The ancient matter is finished.
2 Abba Oda is really dead.
3 The slave harvests sprouts.
4 He who is born from the stock of Guddia,
5 the stock of the ancient kings,
6 “Hit with the point!” he has siad.
7 May the price of the womb be eaten by the womb!
8 “Hit with the point!” the lord has said.
9 The son of the judge is wise!
10 The ancient matter is finished.
11 Those who had sat down (in your houses), break them! Those who had entered
(your houses), send them out!
12 O Diso, my Diso (daughter) of Obo Warqie,
13 Diso whose horses are sixty!
14 The matter of Fitawrari Habta Giyorgis.
15 When the lord (Habta Giyorgis) has gone to Shoa, his way has been directed to
17 The matter of Abba Qurta.
18 The poor has desired the lady!
Notes. Abba Oda (v. 2) was a famous Galla sorcerer (see Prose, text 11) who had
prophesied, as Abbukko, the submission fo the Galla to the Amara. Therefore the
Sulu do not bewail him! The verses 3-6 compare the noble mind of Haylie Guddisa,
born of Galla Tulama stock, with the cowardliness of Habta Giyorgis (the penalty
established by Habta Giyorgis seemed a cowardice to the Galla), pictured as a
slave collecting sprouts, the well known vegetables, food of the poorest
Abyssinians. In verse 9, Haylie is called “the son of the judge,” because his
father Guddisa was a judge in the territory called Suluta between WAllo and Shoa
near Ankobar. To explain verse 16, it is necessary to remark that the Galla
ironically called Shoa qinti gofta, that is “the Lord’s sky,” alluding to the
court of Menilek, a destination very much desired by all of the Amara officers
sent far from their own countries to govern the Galla lands. In verse 17,
Fitawrari Habta Giyorgis is called Abba Qurta. This is an ironical name given to
him by Menilek, because Habta Giyorgis was famous for his skill in deciding the
most intricate questions. The name is formed like the war names (that is,
preceded by the word, abba, “lord”) from the Amharic root qorrata, “to decide a
question.” The true Amharic name is Abba Qurtaw; Qurta is the Galla
pronunciation. Verses 12-13 have no meaning other than sound parallelism with
verses 14-15. Diso Obo Warqie was a Galla heroine who governed the Nonno Gibat
tribe. She was the only woman among the Macca Galla to whom her tribe had given
permission to carry a spear.
In the Galla Spelling Book (see introduciton to this article), among the
pastoral songs, there is the following little song concerning Tura Tobbo, a
warrior nativteof Liban Kuttaye.
uran farda citte
bu asa biekate
mura morma tofo
Tura Korma Tobbo
du asa biekate 5
Turan marqa didde
1 The girth of the horse has been broken.
2 I has been well understood that it shall fall down.
3 O cutter of the rim of the cups!
4 Tura, the son of Tobbo
5 has well understood that he will die.
6 (But) Tura has refused porridge.
Notes. The song means: Tura, although he has known that it was not possible to
win, ahs preferred to die, rather than to live as a coward (porridge is the food
of the cowards, see song 1). The verses of this song are joind together with an
artful sound parallelism; the first verse with the sixth, the second with the
fifth, the third with the fourth.
The following song may be found in The Galla Spelling Book among the boasting
songs (gierarsa). However, as it concerns a single warrior, I have included it
among the historical songs. Nasio, the hero of this song had fought bravely, but
in a foreign land, exiled from his native country.
Nasiro batu base
ambacca mana base
ambaccanko batu base
dida kiella qiellame
dida baqa guddatti 5
qaleto natti gomfa
magan ya biya orma
ta eto natti kolfa
1 Nasiro has fared badly going out (of his country).
2 The lion has gone out of his house.
3 My lion has fared badly going out (of his coutnry).
6 If I had stayed in my country,
7 they would have killed (cattle for sacrifices after victory) and they would
have given me presents.
8 O foreign country!
9 They (i.e. the strangers) stay and laugh in my face!
Notes. The verb gomfa (v. 7) means exactly “to pay a tribute”; but the Galla
call also “tribute” gomfa or gibiri the presents which must be given according
to the laws of custom. Thus the present to the victorious warrior paid by the
other warriors of his tribe; likewise the present given to the host (see prose,
B. The Conquest of the Galla Kingdoms by Menilek II.
Among the first expeditions made against the Galla during the reign of Menilek
II, one worthy of note is that of Daggac Waldie Baseyum against the Gullallie
and the Abbiccu living in the district where Addis Abeba was afterwards
established. The assembly of the Gullallie resolved to stand resolutely against
the Amara led by Waldie (see song 142) Here is the text of the law passed by the
assembly. Like most Galla laws, it is drawn up in verse.
luggama fardatti nbasin
addu addarra nbufatin
miedicca rkarra nbufatin
mure siera 5
siera abba lubbati
caffie abba Gallati
akka caffiekiena balliesi 10
Amara agabusa olca
1 Do not take away the harness from the horse!
2 Do not take away the addu from your head!
3 Do not take away the miedicca from your hand!
4 I have struck the law!
5 I have cut the law!
6 The law of the father lubba!
7 This is the sceptre!
8 This is the parliament,
9 the parliament of the Galla fathers!
10 According to our parliament, waste!
11 Force the Amara to fast this day!
Notes. The law may be divided into three parts: the first part (v. 1-3) is
formed by introductory verses, commanding everyone to be ready for war; the
second part (v. 4-9) is the formula for all Galla laws passed by the assembly.
“I have struck the law”! says verse 4, because the president of the assembly,
after the vote, strikes the ground with his sceptre as sign of the approval of
the law. “I have cut the law!” that is, “the law has been decided”; “to cut” is
oten used in the sense of the verb “to decide.” As to the lubba or luba (v. 6),
see Prose, text 4. The sceptre (v. 7) is the bokku of the Abba Bokku, who is the
president of the assembly (see Prose, text 5). Addu or addo (v. 2) is the skin
of a she-goat or bull’s head, with which the Galla elders cover their heads (see
PRose, text 5); miedicca is an armlet of she-goat’s skin (see song 132).
Among the protagonists of the wars, whom the Amara sent out to subdue the Galla
during the reign of Menilek II, Ras Gobana is perhaps the most famous. He was
the son of Danci, a king of the Tulama Galla, who had his residence at Falle.
The name Gobana (meaning in Galla, “full moon,” as the Arabic personal name,
Badr) demonstrates the Galla origin of the ras. It is not strange that Gobana, a
Galla, was a chief of the Amara, who tried to conquer the independent Galla
countries in Shoa and beyond the Gibie; these wars were, in the beginning, only
sanguinary expeditions such as for many centuries had been made by the Galla
tribes. They ended apparently with the conquest of the Galla lands, but really
they gave to the Ilmorma an important political position in the Ethiopic empire.
The horse of Ras Gobana was called Damtaw (the Galla pronunciation is Damto);
therefore the war-name of the ras was Abba Damtaw; not Abba Daqi, as Afevork
states. 54 The Galla relate that Gobana, after the death of his father, was
banished from his country, and reduced to the rank of a reaper on the
plantations of Menilek II (at this time only king of Shoa). Once, during the
feast of the Cross, Gobana went to the ritual joust, and unhorsed all the
jousters. Menilek II, who was present at the joust, desired to know the winner
personally. Gobana appeared before the kings’ throne and revealed to Menilek
that he (Gobana) was the son of a king. Then Menilek appointed him ligaba, and
gave him the title of Ato.
His first expendition was made against the Guragie, following one led there by
Waldie Baseyum, Gobana had, at this time, only fifty guns of ancient type, and
twelve Sanadir (the Abyssinian name of “Sniders”); nevertheless he conquered and
plundered the country of the Guragie, but without remaining there long enough to
subdue the region decisively. Then he was sent by Menilek against hte Galla of
Shoa, and defeated Tufa Botora, chief of the Abbiccu and Galan. He marched
victoriously into Falle, and established his chief camp (Amharic, katama) in the
former district of his father. There he was appointed ras. When Menilek decided
to conquer Salalie, Ras Gobana and Ras Dargie united their strength and, after
six months, set out for Salalie to subdue its inhabitants. Later, Gobana made
three expeditions against the kindgom of Tufa Oba (another portion of the Galan,
Abbiccu and Gullallie territory), but without conquering the land. The fourth
time he was stopped in a new invasion by Daggac Nado, who had already concluded
an agreement with Tufa Oba.
After making sure of the dominion of the Armara over the Galla of Shoa, Menilek
also desired to extend the frontiers of his kingdom beyond the Gibie. At this
time, those Galla districts were occupied by the Godjamian army which, after
subjugating the intermediate countries, had advanced as far as Kaffa. 55 Ras
Gobana, in charge of this far from easy enterprise, feigned to rebel against
Emperor Johannes and King Menilek, and demanded to be appointed governor of the
Galla countries occupied by the Godjamians. The emperor Johannes refused to
grant to him these lands, and Gobana began a campaign against the Godjamians and
passed the Gibie. At this time (1882), the king Takla Haymanot, negus of Goggam,
was already engaged in his third invasion of Kaffa, when the hostilities between
Shoa and Goggam began. Menilek stood, at the beginning secretly, then publicly
by Ras Gobana. The king Takla Haymanot, to avoid being surprised far from his
own country, withdrew the greater part of his army toward Goggam, leaving his
officer, Ras Daraso, in Gimma Abba Gifar to guard the territory already
conquered. Daraso had under his command the army of Gimma, the Lieqa Horda led
by Tucco Danno (v. 29), and the Gudru. Menilek sent against these troops Ras
Gobana, who, without fighting, forced Daraso to retreat. 56 Finally at Dilalo in
Nonno, the two armies assailed each other; but after a short struggle, almost
without shedding blood, Daraso continued his retreat.
an buse gabbi hira
ya mudie Dambi Giga
gorro dumni tuguba
Nonno dunni sutuma
gimmata dufu girta 5
robi dumu girta
1 I have bought a calf and paid for it.
2 Abba Muda Dambi Gia!
3 Behind the gorro, there is a precipice.
4 Among the Nonno, death was scarce.
5 Friday you had gone.
6 Wednesday you had ceased (to dwell here).
Notes. At the time of the combat in Dilalo, the Abba Muda (see Prose, text 5,
note), Dambi Giga (v. 2) was in Nonno, and like almost all the Galla, favored
the Godjamians. The last two verses (5-6) concern Ras Daraso and his exceedingly
short stay in the country of the Nonno. Behind the gorr, i.e. the enclosure for
calves, in Galla houses are the rooms for the men. Verses 1, 3 make a
sound-parallelism with verses 2, 4.
Ras Daraso continued his march toward Goggam till he reached Imbabo, a plain in
Gudru. There he stopped and awaited his enemies, drawn up for battle. After
numerous actions favorable to the Godjamians, the king Takla Haymanot himself
appeared on the field of battle. The final combat took place on Sunday, December
25, 1875 (Abyssinian era). The Shoans won a great victory. Takla Haymanot was
taken prisoner by a negro slave named Sambato who, therefore, ws freed, and
appointed fitawrari. Ras Mangasa Atikam recognizing that the prisoner taken by
sambato was the king of Gaggam, bought him for ten thalers, and led him to
Gobana’s tent. Gobana, seeing the king, crid to him (in Amharic), “Gaggaie,
wacit aswargin,” “O Godjamian, bring to me the plate!” answering thus a boast of
Takla Haymanot, who had said that “After the battle Ras Gobana will bear my
mitad during the return journey to Goggam!” The mitad is a plate of iron used by
the Abyssinians to bake bread.
qaraba saffisa ddi
gofta daggac Daraso
ganaman salpisise Danci
1 Shave, O sharpened razor!
2 The lord, Daggac Daraso,
3 in the morning has been humbled by (the son) of Danci!
After this victory Ras Gobana, instead of returning to Shoa, advanced toward the
territory of the Cabo Galla to subdue them. But when he reached Warego, he was
assailed and pushed back by the Cabo; during the battle, the brother-in-law of
Gobana, Birru Nagawe was killed.
surruba Birru 5
dame Gonbanni 10
1 Birru Nagawe,
2 brother-in-law of Gobana!
3 O eagle of Cabo,
4 O hyena of Wego.
5 The hare of Birru,
6 have you (O eagle, O hyena) eaten it entirely?
7 (Or) have you put it away and kept (it)?
8 “A bite of my supper
9 may be Cabo, my enemy!”
10 Gobana has said.
Gobana returned, after reorganizing his army, and together with Garasu Birratu
defeated the Cabo. During the battle, Ligg Habta Giyorgis distinguished himself
by leading the Amara troops to surround the Cabo. (Habta Giyorgis was a native
of the Cabo country!). He was appointed fitawrari on account of this exploit.
Gobana revenged his brother-in-law by cruelly massacring the Cabo. Then a Cabo
ya soriessa koruma kori
ya hiyessa bouma boi
Gobana farda qilliessa
findumtu dufa wal nu qitiessa 5
1 O rich, be proud!
2 O poor, shed your tears!
3 The cold (son) of Danci,
4 Gobana whose horse is the wind,
5 no doubt he will come and he will make us all equal!
Notes. Gobana by killing all without distinction, abolished the difference
between rich and poor.
After his victory over the Cabo, Gobana marched toward the Hadiya Wambie whose
chief, Hasan Ingamo, a very fanatic Mussulman, had rebelled and declared a holy
war against the Christians. Hasan defeated Ras Gobana four times; then, after a
victory gained by Habta Giyorgis over Hasan Ingamo, Gobana returned to the
neighborhood of Qabiena, defeated the Hadiya, and entered the town. Hasan was
not found in Qabiena; it was supposed that he had been hidden by Abba Gifar in
Gimma. Abba Gifar was summoned by Menilek to Shoa, and, as he refused to
surrender Hasan Ingamo, he was imprisoned for six months on a mountain near
Ankobar. Finally he was liberated after an animated dispute between Goro Nabi
Bato and the Emperor Menilek (see song30). However, Gimma was forced to pay an
annual tribute to Ras Gobana. 57
Next, Ras Gobana passed the Gibie and entered Limmu. Conquering Limmu in a brief
contest, he turned against the Nonno who tried to cut off his route to Shoa.
This time, Moroda Bakarie, chief of the Lieqa Naqamte, intervened in behalf of
Gobana. The nonno fought bravely in amny engagements but at last they were
defeated and their Abba Muda, Dambi Giga (see song 39), was takne prisoner and
exiled on a mountain (Amba) in Gudar.
After a short stay in Gudar, Ras Gobana renewed his invasions and fearing
Moroda, went to Lieqa. Garbi Gilo (chief of Lieqa Billo), Tucco Danno (chief of
Lieqa Horda), and Gienda Buse (chief of Lieqa Sibu) joined their armies to
resist the Amara. Ligdi Bakarie, the uncle of Moroda, vexed by the treason of
his nephew, making an agreement with Garbi Gilo and Tucco Danno, prepared the
little army of his fief, bunaya (near the Wama river) to fight against the
invaders. The struggle of Gobana against the Lieqa Galla was concentrated in two
great expeditions which devastated the country without forcing the inhabitants
to acknowledge the Amara domination. Howver, after thus gaining victory over the
majority of the Galla nation, Gobana returned to Shoa and established his camp
in Falle. Then a minstrel sang a boasting-song for Gobana; Loransiyos remembers
only the first verse of this song:
Gobie sanga cinaccatti bati.
1 Gobana rides the belly of his steed!
Note. This means that Gobana, a skilled horseman, was accustomed (to prove his
expertness) to bend in the saddle so far that the spear passed under the belly
of his horse.
After the return of Gobana to Falle, the Galla whom he had recently conquered
took up arms against the Amara. A league was formed between the Nonno Roggie
(whose chief was Turi Gaga), the Nonno Migra (whose chief was Madasa Konce);
three Lieqa tribes — Lieqa Billo, Lieqa Sibu and Lieqa Horda; Limmu and Gimma
Gudaya. Moroda with his soldiers (Lieqa Naqamte and Wayu) remained with the
Amara party on account of his rivalry with Tucco Danno. Against this Galla
confederation, Gobana sent the sons of Daggac Nado; Tasamma Nado, commandant of
the corps, Dasta Nado, and Dallansa Nado. The Amara were defeated in a battle at
Gura Doba near the Wama river. Tasamma repaired to Shoa; Dasta Nado died during
the combat; Dallansa Nado was obliged to open a way of retreat for himself by
fighting against the Tuqa, a clan of the Lieqa Sibu tribe. Here is the tirumphal
song of the victors:
Tasamma farda luffieda
Roggie gaunis kutteda
Wayas baqanni Kutteda
Gimmas dufunsa kutteda
Gienda fardisa sanida 5
lafo santama gab bdse
tumtu lamdtu bitera
miggu basa bba biyada
yo mana Harangamada
namiccu Tasamma daba 10
korbas kolu si ergatrea
ya ti Basa ya lma Nado
alfi sanga lama bafta
mal si dame gofankie 15
garso arrieda bukkuru
dura faldta ddi huru
Taytu yd Taytuko
nu gaera damsikieso
yo halkan qabatte bulta 20
guya qabatte mutta
Tasamma ya Tasie Nado
Dibbie saddietama basi
garri sirru nu soddie
dula lkani dula dulu 25
adala ntuta funana
essatti figa Tasie no
nan igara nan igara
gibbi banti lma Wadago
anaso giddi qabera 30
na nattanis nama nata
na nattatti natamani
ya Bulca ya Bule umnako
saytainni Wama hamada
busan Gibie bardaada 35
golfa saddietama hafna
sambata gimmata dulle
banti Wama Gura Doba
ganda Cali lma Waqietti
damannera nuf isatto 40
ya Fatansatt Ilutt Ilu
balo ya muca lukko
qallun Abbukko marate
gorba santama gad ofa 45
indu a abban dulloma
Wama busunko sumafi
abban bokku dubbatera
Nonnon kannisa gannati 50
sadan Lieqa gungumera
Limmu tisisa Wauti
Guddya wa dibamera
kan Dassie Nado fakkate
nu si gard murannera 55
hadaf gard murannera
kakanne wa barana
kiena guyan gad adiema
kiessan guyan oi adiema 60
buta dili laga Wama
yo muca Nado soddie
bafta Hora Bidiru
si egiso malkatti 65
inafti dibbien kuntsi
Nonnon kanisa dimuti
namn dkka tokko lamafi
Timsa ilma Sulufa
gogga saddietama gese 70
essa gauf quba rasa
1 O Tasamma with a sickly horse!
2 The coming of the Roggie is decided.
3 The coming of the Gimma Gudaya is decided.
4 The flying of the Wayu is decided.
5 Gienda has five horses.
6 He has put down fifty warriors.
7 He has bought two smiths.
8 He will perform the obsequies fo the chief of the land,
9 if his (i.e. Gienda’s) house is in Harangama.
10 O useless little man, Tasamma,
11 we have chosen a heifer for tribute;
12 we have sent a male calf to you.
13 O you, whose mother is Basa, O son of Nado,
14 will the warrior pay to you two oxen?
15 What (word) has your lord sent to you?
16 The poor little old man with a speckled bear
17 hit him on his nose with a piece of wood!
18 O Taytu, O my Taytu,
19 your news has reachd us.
20 If you take a man in the evening, and lie with him,
21 in the morning, you take and pierce him!
22 O Tasamma, Tasamma Nado,
23 prepare thirty drums!
24 That (man) is more afraid than you!
25 He fights only by night! (lit. fight-fighter of the fight by night).
26 The cat gathers the rats.
27 Where are you running, O Tasamma?
28 “I will construct, I will construct
29 the residency of the chief, son of Wadago!”
30 I am now distressed.
31 They will eat me, but I will eat (others).
32 He will eat me, but he will be eaten (by me)!
33 O Bulca, O Bulca, my strength!
34 The devil of the Wama is bad!
35 The ever (malaria) of the Gibie is a destroyer!
36 We, thirty devils, have remained.
37 Friday and Saturday we have fought
38 (led by) the chief of the Wama of Gura Doba,
39 the land of Cali, son of Waqie.
40 We have sent a message to him (i.e. Fatansa).
41 O Fatansa (son) of Ilu,
42 strike, O our kinsman! (lit. O son fo my thigh).
43 The sorcerer Abbukko has gone out of his mind.
44 “Thirty oxen
45 (and) fifty heifers may be led down by you!
46 The old men will not die.
47 Those who have already lived long, will live on!”
48 For you I have descended to the Wama!
49 The Abba Bokku has spoken.
50 The three Lieqa have roared.
51 The Nonno, the bees of the season of rains.
52 The Limmu, flies of the breeze of the autumn.
53 The Gudaya are a little distressed!
54 O you, who resemble Dasta Nado,
55 we have split his belly!
56 Our only son, we have taken him!
57 Also we have split his mother’s belly.
58 We have taken the holy oath for this year.
59 Our fortune falls.
60 Your fotune will ascend!
61 The wind is diminished!
62 Descend to victory by the Wama river,
63 if the son of Nado has been afraid.
64 Go out to the salt springs of Bidiru!
65 We will wait at the ford!
66 The drums will not be absent.
67 The Nonno, red, stining bees,
68 men who are doubly valiant (lit. men who are as one and two men).
69 Timsa, the son of Sulufa
70 has killed eighty warriors, who had the cloak of skin (lit. has killed eighty
71 Where he reaches, he causes the fingers to tremble!
Notes. After mentioning the Oromo allies (Nonno Roggie, Gimma Gudaya) and the
allies of the Amara (Lieqa Wayu and Naqamte) (v. 1-4) the song states that
Gienda, the chief of Sibu (the chief village of Sibu is Harangama), had “bought
two smiths,” i.e. had bought from another Galla chief the right of patronage of
two smiths (see song 15, and Appendix). This is a token that the right of
patronage might be bought and sold, at least among the western Galla. The smiths
constructed the spears necessary for Gienda to take vengeance for his father,
killed by the Amara (v. 5-9). Then follows a taunt at Tasamma, who vainly waits
for the tribute of the Galla (v. 10-14) and is a slave to Menilek, the poor old
man (v. 15-17) and of Taytu. As to the Empress Taytu, the Galla say that she
gave herself to a warrior for a few nights, after which she killed him and
called to her bed another man. The verses 18-21 allude to this story. The next
verses make game of Ras Gobana who had remained at Falle (v. 22-24) while the
Galla pursued his officer, Tasamma, as a cat chases rats (v. 26-27). The verses
28-29 allude to the aggafari of Ras Gobana, Fitawrari Banti Manne, chief of the
Sulu. It was said that he had descended form a family of carpenters and
bricklayers. Here the minstrel mocks because the fortune of Banti Manne has
permitted him to order the construciton of his own residence.
Then the singer incites to the combat: even if the strength of the two armies
should be unequal and the diviners should have predicted defeat, it would be
preferable to die fighting and killing (v. 30-32). Next, he recalls the deeds of
bravery performed during the battle. The first warrior celebrated in this part
of the son is Bulca, a slave of the Nonno (v. 33-35). Although very few in
number (“thirty devils”), the Galla of the Wama fought valliantly led by their
chief, Cali Waqie (v. 36-39). The Galla awaited the army of Fatansa Ilu, the
king of Nonno Ilu (see song 26-27) and Gabba; but he did not move from his land
(v. 40-42). The verses 43-47 refer to the prophecy of the sorcerer, Abbukko of
Lieqa Billo. He had predicted that resistance was useless, because the Amara
would at last conquer the sons of Orma. However, comments the minstrel (v.
46-47), this prophecy declares that the life of the Amara shall be eternal and
the old men shall never die; yet the Galla have already defeated the Amara in
the recent battle, and have made them feeble old men; therefore, in a second
combat they (i.e. the Galla) will decisively conquer their enemies, contrary to
the prophecy. Since the Abba Bokku “has spoken” (v. 49) (this probaby means “has
declared war” and should prove that the Abba Bokku had the power to make a
solemn proclamation of the war decided byt he tribe), the allies have come
together (v. 49-53); the Lieqa roaring like lions; the Nonno, like bees during
the season of the rains (the bees at this season do not attack, if they are not
molested in their hives); the Limmu numerous and insistent as flies during the
autumn; the Guyada, a little distressed on accoutn of their casualties in
battle. Then the iinstrel celebrates the killing of Dasta Nado, brother of
Tasamma (v. 54-57). The prophecies unfavorble to the Galla, are again quoted
after the victory (v. 58-62). The song ends by challenging the Amara to another
combat at the salt springs of Bidiru, an hour’s march from the Wama river. The
Nonno will enter the new battle with their chief Timsa Sulufa. (v. 63-71
Harangama (v. 9) is a village in the Lieqa Sibu territory (clan of the Lieqa
Sibu Dicca), chief village of the Sibu. Gura Doba (v. 38) is a vast plain near
the Wama river. Malammalinna (v. 11) is the Amharic verb malammala, “to
choose,” used principally when the king chooses the cattle for tribute. 58 The
mother of Tasamma Nado was a Galla named Basa (v. 13). Notice in verse 23 the
frequent metaphor: dibbie, “war-drum” meaning “army of a chief.” A similar
metaphor is used in Amharic with the word nagarit, “our only (son)” is an
ironically tender allusion to Dasta Nado. Dimu (v. 27) is a kind of red bee,
which produced excellent honey; the hives of these bees have two queens.
After the victory at Gura Doba, the Galla began to pursue Tasamma, who fled
toward Shoa. The Nonno Robbie advanced as far aas the Gudar River, where they
defeated the rear of Tasamma’s army.
gabbin Turi Gadan ote
farso qadada dibbayu
ato na natta silayu
wami garsa manakiena
yo kka gia muddiefa 5
gabbin Turi Gagan ote
salgi gumbi cabi gote
garsicco mana mbatu
ergata lola lamatu
nam akka gara Wayessa 10
manaf Salalierra lona
ol olef Gullalien as olla
wan sodatu ilmi Nado
1 The calves of Turi Gagan ahve sucked
2 the beer of the old man’s cup.
3 You now (say, “Woe to me!”
4 Call the old man to our house
5 if (the affairs) is like the moon of September!
6 The calves of Turi Gagan have sucked!
7 They have made your necks as broken vessels.
8 The poor old man does not go out of his house;
9 h sends other to war,
10 (Led by) a man with a heart like the heart of Wayessa,
11 we will slip even into the houses of Salalie
12 After some time (lit. passed the day, passed the day), we will stay there in
13 The son of Nado will tremble a little!
Notes. The old man (v. 2) is Menilek, whose armies had been defeated by teh
Nonno led by Turi Gagan. If things go badly with Tasamma (the moon of September
is full of ill omen, according to the Galla), it is useless for him to demand
aid of Menilek: Menilekdoes not go out of Shoa, and sends others to war (v. 3-9)
Wyessa (v. 10) is a famous Nonno warrior, native of Galise between the Nonno and
the Liban Tokko. The Fullalie (v. 12) had fought with the Amara against their
The position of Tasamma, who had remained at the Gudar to prevent a Galla
invasion of Shoa was precarious. He took refuge on the Amba Gudar, near the
river. The Galla sang to him:
Guddrin, garre hamada
Gallanis, yanni hamada
atis dubbinkie hamada
1 The ascent of Gudar is hard.
2 The mind of the Galla is hard.
3 And you, your condition is hard!
Tasamma sent messages to Ras Gobana, demanding relief. In the meantime, he kept
back by the fire of his guns the Galla camped in the plain, who were armed only
with spears. Then the Galla, who could not reply on account of the distance,
sang songs of defiance.
ya Tasamma qiensa bude
nitinkie diengadda dute
muccankie eddarra bute
naggadien garbata gurti
gara yabunko sumofi. 5
ma wamtero Gobanakie
fardien santama gag gure
Gobanni yaddo gay yase
akka koromto galdiessa
Makan gauf akkabsata 10
hidannasa kka dira
mallisa kka naddieni
yo dugna gagna tate
bu i goddsa guddaka
yo fards isini qabdure 15
qawe farangi tumati
yo farangi durbikieti
malif sodatta sa goda
malif mukaye yabda
bu i goddasa guddada 20
Billo, farado sanida
Garbin kiessa bakakkada
simtarre muca Giloko
indufa Garbi simteo
si kienna baddasa Lieqa
badda bisinga facasu
gamogi bobbe facase
Amara rari harcase
hindufa Nagi simteo
si mosisa sana Lieqa
maqakie nigusa mbasa
gomfa mardsa warqieda
badden si fida ndyu
yo nama Nagi sodatte
sitt ida kate tombeyu 35
si baccisa okkoteko
Wama adunsa hamada
mata urie ga si daba
irran butun islamada
gira Musa Ima Godana 40
goga gabbi coma tofo
fundien oromoda Imoko
soda Rabbi somanoyo
kudasan ofi nbaddate
santama loletu bata 45
kanafa qabda ya Gobi
butu tokkon gadi girtire
fardi gara gala bata
muddi gala wa yayome
robi ganama yo bate 50
kamisa yo baddu bafte
si badda ya mmabietieko
amma kan kie wan girture
gandi Cali lma Waqiefa 55
baqaterra nni guddano
ya ggafari ya lma Manne
duro nsodittu gedani
ma batta geta Gobiefa
Tasamman sila duttuda 60
mallisa kka nitittda
bufta oboliessa kan keyu
gurracca kka gia muddiefa
Garadon Waldies bogame
dima bakkalca fakkatu 65
gadi yaftu dallakie
u i goddsa dimtu
birra quotis ndifne 70
lafa nkoldsun kakieda
akka Mort lma Bakafa
nama nsodannu nkaku
1 O Tasamma with long nails,
2 your wife died yesterday,
3 your daughter this night has gone out (of life)!
4 The merchant loads the leather bag.
5 My ascent of the mountain is for you.
6 Why have you called your Gobana? After assembling fifty horsemen,
8 Gobana has lost his head.
9 Like a male monkey,
10 he runs to reach Makan!
11 He has the belt (for arms) of a man,
12 the mind of a woman!
13 If you have horses (to fight there).
16 The Europeans manufacture guns.
17 If the Europeans are your kindred,
18 why do you fear the plain?
19 Why do you climb trees?
20 Descend to the great plain!
21 Billo has five horse (men).
22 Among these, Garbi is like thunder.
23 He will advance, the son of my Gilo;
24 he will advance, Garbi, and he will arrive.
25 I will gtive you the plateau of Lieqa,
26 the plateau where one sows sorghum,
27 the valley where one sows white sorghum.
28 The Amara let fall the cartouches!
29 He will come, Nagi, he ahs advanced.
30 I will cause you to reign over the five Lieqa tribes,
31 your name will be the anme of king,
32 you will have a golden poughshare for tribute.
33 I will charge myself with it, and I will bring it to you.
34 If you (O Tasamma) fear the men of Nagi,
35 I will bring you the clothes of the negro slaves.
36 I will load you with my pots.
37 The sun of the Wama is bad.
38 I will pierce your head; thus I will stop you!
39 The Irra Butu are Musselmen.
40 There is (among them) Musa, son of Godana,
41 skin of a fat calf (fit for) a cup.
42 He is (born) from Galla stock, my son,
43 but he fasts because of fear of the Lord!
44 With fifteen (spears) he ahs loaded himself.
45 Fifty (toehrs) are brought for him by his servants.
46 Will you catch such a man, O Gobana?
47 There is a Butu, soldier of the holy war,
48 who rides his horse under the belly;
49 he plucks something udner the waist (of his enemies).
50 If he (i.e. Tasamma) should go out (to fight) Wednesday morning,
51 if he (Tasamma) should be completely defeated, Thursday,
52 I will burden myself (with presents) for you, O my lady!
53 Even this great man will be frightened!
54 Then there is something even for you!
55 In the village of Calf, son of Waqie,
56 even that great man fled!
57 O aggafari, O son of Manne!
58 Once it was said that you were not afraid.
59 Why do you bring now the basin of egeta to Gobana?
60 Because Tasamma is angry!
61 His mind is like the mind of a poor little woman!
62 You (O Tasamma) abandon even your brother,
63 who is black as the moon of September.
64 And Garado Waldie also has been taken prisoner,
65 (Garado) who resembles the red star of Venus.
66 Descend from your compound (O Tasamma)!
67 We will not be absent; it is decided!
68 Descend to the plain at Dimtu!
69 Order the sevant maids to the water!
70 We will leave off in order to plough during the spring.
71 The country during the dry season is the object of a holy oath.
72 As Moroda, son of Bakarie,
73 we do no fear any man. It has been sworn with a holy oath!
Notes. Uncut nails are, among the Galla, a sign of the low castes (v. 1). The
verses 7-10 allude to Gobana, superb, but also easily frightened, as the male
monkey, chief of the herd. Makan (v. 10) is a place near Hindieba Gaci in Lieqa.
The verses 21-33 praise Garbi Gilo, the chief of Lieqa Billo. Arari (v. 28) is
the Amharic word arar, “cartouch;” marasa (v. 32) is the Amharic word Marasa,
“ploughshare.” In verse 34, the singer again addresses Tasamma. Kate (v. 35) is
the name of a kind of clothes worn by the Sidama slave maids. The verses 37-38
mean: “We have already defeated you at Gura Doba near the Wama; we will now
again defeat your army.” The verses 39-49 sing about two warriors of the cavalry
corps called Irra Butu (Loransiyos translates this name with the Amharic word,
yam-iddarabu, i.e. “those who double”); the soldiers of this corps were natives
of Darita. They were Mussulmen; therefore the singer scoffs, as usual, at the
Moslem fast (v. 43). “Skin of a calf, fit for a cup” (v. 41) means “white skin”
because white cups are most appreciated by the Galla. As to verse 48, see song
43. Verse 49 alludes to the Galla custom of cutting the genitals of their
enemies. Notice the Amharic word immabiet (v. 52), “lady” used here instead of
the Galla word gifti. Verses 53-56 threaten “the great man,” i.e. Gobana with a
defeat more crushing than that of his officer, Tasamma. The verses 57-59 allude
to the submission of Banti Manne, chief of the Sulu Galla to Ras Gobana (see
song 44, v. 28-29). The egeta (v. 59) is a plant from which the Galla make
basins to wash their hands. It was the duty of the valets to hold the basin
while the lord washed. The verses 62-63 allude to the rash flight of Dasta Nado
who was brown in color like a negro. As to the moon of September, see song 45,
v. 5. The verses 64-65 sing about Fitawrari Garado Waldie, famous on account of
his light skin color. He was taken prisoner during a combat neaer the Gudar, but
he escaped. The verses 65-68 defy Tasmama to descend from the mountain and to
engage in battle at Hora Dimtu, a salt spring near the Wama. The verses 69-73
add to the challenge the holy oath not to plough the country before victory.
Kolasu (v. 71) is a kind of ground, which is ploughed more than three times
during the dry season; then one leaves off for ten days without sowing it; after
this period, it is planted with chick-peas. Verse 71 cites ironically as an
example of bravery Moroda who many years before had surrendered himself to the
During the battle at Gura Doba, Ligdi Bakarie had taken the horse of Dallansa
Nado, the famous Raggi (raggi means in Galla “wonder”).
gari Dallansa Nado
abbankie biyo gote
an abba biya gote
1 O fine steed of Dallansa Nado,
2 your master had mae you ashes.
3 I have made you lord of the country!
Notes. This means: Your master had humbled you, being defeated; I have
accomplished with you glorious exploits!
At this time, Ras Gobana departed with his officers from Shoa to aid Tasamma and
went towards Lieqa by the way of Giedo. Fitawrari Garado advanced by the way of
Tibbie; Moroda attacked the Sibu tribes, and Wayzaro Matayit, the princess of
Warra Himano (who had already fought together with Gobana at the battle of
Imbabo), marched to assiad the Lieqa Billo. Gobana defeated Tucco Danno after
many undecisive combats at Malka Naggadie on the banks fo the Wama. Tucco
withdrew to the Tullu Amara; thence, after a year of siege, he escaped and went
to the court of the Emperor Menilek II, who, according to his usual policy,
appointed Tucco fitawrari and gave him the government of his own once
independent domain. Mastayit had conquered, in the meantime, the Lieqa Billo,
and the Sibu had been defeated by Moroda. Thus, after seven years of struggle,
all the Lieqa tribes were conquered. Garbi Gilo and Gienda Sone were appointed
fitawrari and governors of their former kingdoms.
Ras Gobana, fearing a new rebellion of Lieqa, decided not to return to Falle in
Shoa and took up his residence in Hindieba Gacci. Then he was obliged to begin a
new campaign against the Dervishes of the Mahdi. The Mahdi, during this war
against the Emperor Johannes IV ending with the battle at Matamma, had sent an
expedition to Wallaga hoping that the Mussulmen of that region would be
favorable to him. Ras Gobana had already fought against the chief of Lieqa
Qiellem, Gote (a Mussulman), and the Nole Kabba; but he had been obliged to
leave off this enterprise on account of the outbreak of an epidemic in his army.
When the Arabs of the Mahdi entered Galla territory, Gote came to an agreement
with them, and his example was followed by the Sibu Fanti, Sibu Wambara, and
Sinasa. Ras Gobana moved against the invader with Daggac Moroda and Moroda’s
brother, Fitawrari Amante leading the Lieqa Naqamte and the Tuqa. The two armies
fought at Sombo Darro, within the territory of the Sibu Wambara. The Mussulmen
were defeated by Gobana. Then the dervishes withdrew to the Sudan, and the Galla
allies of Gobana massacred the fugitives, especially their Galla compatriots,
natives of Qiellem and Sibu, who had helped the strangers to enter Wallaga.
However, Ras Gobana, in order to avoid the prolongation of this barbarous
carnage, ordered his auxiliary troops to bring to him as prisoners all fugitives
who yielded, and forbade the killing and the cutting of the genitals of these
defenceless prisoners. These orders caused great discontent among the Galla
soldiers of Moroda; Moroda himself did not execute this proclamation of Gobana.
A rebellion of the Galla auxiliary troops threatened. However, Gobana prevented
the rebellion by an energetic action. He surrounded the Galla troops with his
Amara soldiers; then called the chiefs of the Galla to a meeting. When an
officer o the Lieqa Naqamte appeared at the meeting, riding a horse whose bridle
was adorned with the genitals of the prisoners, Gobana, as soon as he saw him,
flung at him the wooden stool on which he had been sitting. Alluding to this
fact, a Galla minstrel sang the following song:
Gobanno girma gige
Morin Diddiessa gute
Araba duta diemu
Gote santama bule
Wambarin biro bule 5
obo Gote bba Iggu
ati yo nkakanne
an nkakanni kaku
Araba mbaqu gette
Gobana ilma Danci
Mori Lma Bakartie
garando bba Talasi
Gobana tuqamu dide 15
butu tullu kanarras
garsicca dufu giru
darro mandara guddada
Tullu Warqie nannese
utu sagala bule 20
Araba dilli gode
nama dilaba gode
Gobanan bsa base
namni sambo qaratu
buna qarata male 25
namni dilala mbafni
Gobie lmi Wadago
Gobana qaba ragga
Morin agecca ragga
garri moti Amara 30
agesif nu wamadni
afefna nu danani
ururuka lmo harre
ote tiqi nutti mani
qawe gar tkoo muka 35
abban qaweo qabe
ano nqabatin male
ano giddi nqabaregango gar tokko hare
abban yaba yo yabe 40
ano yyabatin male
samma gar tokko girbi
kan uffate huffate
ano naffatin male
anos giddi nqabare 45
moti gar tokko romo
abban moa yo moe
ani mmoani male
kan momi giddi naqabare
mie Disoko wamare 50
mie kka rba caranure
Amara gasi bu e
Galla dugda debie
irran gade gaccise
raron butemmo girti 55
sagal balliesa bae
nienci Sirfi Oda
ya Gudariessa Gume
Gobana mal kiessani 60
garro moti Salatlie
isa sirre kiessani
ofi gala tiessani
Minilik guyaf moe 65
ebo Moroda cala
Wayun ha-calu Mori
tongo ya ntotto cala
Soa Minilik cala
garbicci birri lama 70
lokko natt ergifate
mirgasa na mbaccsu
godala ree na gode
daku natti baccise
as lallan Tullun Baqqo 75
gandi gollie Sanqilla
asin dio fakkata
Garon gadi guame
yaddon itti tulame
80 Adal Goggamin tite
minilik Soa tita
Tullu Gimmain tite
Morodan Wayu titu
Arabni dibbien tokko
misimmo rata tate 85
1 Gobana is a trunk which crashes down.
2 Moroda is the Didiessa when it overflows.
3 The Arabs have gone away angry.
4 Gote has lived fifty days.
5 The judge has stayed near him.
6 Lord Gote, lord of (the horse) Iggu,
7 if you have not taken the holy oath,
8 I have not taken the holy oath.
9 “The Arabs will not fly!” you said.
10 (on the contrary) they have fled.
11 Gobana, son of Danci.
12 Moroda son of Bakarie
13 Garado lord of (the horse) Talas.
14 The Arabs have ascended to the Tuqa’s (country),
15 but Gobana has refused to be touched.
16 Descend from this mountain!
17 The old man has come.
18 Darro is a great village.
19 I have surrounded the Tullu Warqie.
20 “After I have stayed nine days,
21 I will defeat the Arabs.
22 I will make the warriors merchandise!”
23 Gobana has done badly.
24 The man has paid the customs duty, one sambo.
25 One pays the customs duty for coffee!
26 A man does not become merchandise!
27 Gobana whose son is Wadago,
28 Gobana (has said), “Take!” O wonder!
29 Moroda (has said) “Kill!” O wonder!
30 This king of the Amara
31 has called on us to kill.
32 We have killed and he hits us.
33 Sleep, sleep, o little son of an ass!
34 If they speak to us about the stubborn (warrior),
35 the gun is wooden on one side.
36 The fusileer has taken it,
37 but I will not take it.
38 This matter does not concern me.
39 The mule is an ass by one side.
40 (Even) if the rider rides it,
41 I will ride it.
42 The toga is cotton by one side
43 This man who has worn it may wear it,
44 but I will not wear it.
45 This matter does not concern me.
46 The king is Galla by one side.
47 He who has reigned may reign,
48 but I will not reign.
49 To be governed does not concern me.
50 Come on, I will call my (horse) Diso.
51 Come on! like an elephant I will roar!
52 The Amara have descended marching;
53 the Galla have followed them to the plain.
54 They have caused (the enemy) to come down from above!
55 The horse-cloth has fallen and stands.
56 He has killed nine (warriors),
57 and has shaved his head nine times!
58 The lion (son) of Sirfi Oda.
59 O Gudariessa Gume.
60 What is there for you, Gobana?
61 That king of Salalie?
62 You have kept the throne for him,
63 and you have put yourself down!
64 You have put aside your spears!
65 Menilek has reigned because of good fortune!
66 Among the spears, the filed spear is the best,
67 Among the Wayu, Moroda may be the ruler.
68 Among the tongo, the tongo of Entotto is the best.
69 Let Menilek rule in Shoa!
70 The slave (whose price is) two thalers,
71 has sent me the bridle.
72 He has not burdened me with meal!
75 Seeing there the Tullu Baqqo,
76 the village of the sons of the Sanqilla,
77 he thought that it was near.
78 He has gone down to the Garo.
79 He has collected his thoughts!
80 Adal has ruled in Goggam.
81 Menilek rules in Shoa.
82 Tullu has ruled in Gimma.
83 Let Moroda rule in Wayu!
84 The Arabs, one drum,
85 dinner has been supper for them!
Notes. Gobana (v. 1) is similar to a great trunk which falling crushes
everything under it. The singer in the verses 4-13 addresses Gote, who, during
the fifty days of the Dervish invasion, might have believed himself the lord of
Lieqa. The brother of Gote, Asana was supreme judge of his brother’s dominions.
In verse 5, the Amharic word wamar is used, wambari, according to the Galla
pronunciation, instead of the Galla abba firdi, “judge.” Abba Iggu (v. 6) was
the war-name of Gote. Gote had taken, before the battle, a holy oath that the
Arabs would defeat the Amara (v. 7-10). In verses 14-15 the singer puns on the
double sense of Tuqa, name of a clan, and the verb tuq, “to touch.” The “old
man” (v. 17) is Ras Gobana. The verses 19-21 allude to an oath of Ras Gobana
that he would defeat the Arabs within nine days.
Then the minstrel begins to state his complaints against the ras’s orders. The
verses 22-25 concern the order not to kill the prisoners but to keep them and
accept the ransom. Note that Gobana had established a tax of one sambo for every
ten prisoners taken by his auxiliaries, a real deduction from the ransom. Verses
26-34, quoting the contradictory orders of Gobana and Moroda (v. 28-29), allude
also to the event which took place before the tent of the ras (see introduciotn
to this song). With such a command of the war, says the singer, the warrior
becames similar to an ass; that is, he bears only provisions, not spoils, i.e.
genitals of the conquered warriors. The song next rails at Ras Gobana, who,
although born of Galla parents, has adopted the laws and the customs of the
Amara, like a gun, half of wood and half of iron, like a mule, half horse and
half ass, like a toga, half cotton and half wool (v. 35-49). Diso (v. 50) is the
horse of the singer, Abba Diso. The Galla warrior, Gudariessa Gume, son of Sirff
Oda, naive of Lieqa Naqamte, has killed nine warriors, and then, according to
Galla customer, has shaved his head. Why has such a valiant warrior, asks the
singer, surrendered himself to the Amara (v. 58-64)? Moroda must rule the Wayu
according to the Galla laws. Menilek with his laws reigns in Entotto, not in
Galla lands (v. 65-69). And Gobana, slave of Menilek has ordered that the steed
of the singer bear meal and not spoils (v. 69-73)!
Verses 74-79 describe the flight of the Arabs. Each chief may reign in his own
kingdom; Moroda may reign in Lieqa Wayu (v. 80-83)! The Arabs, who are only one
corps (in verse 84, drum = dorps), have flown in such haste that they have not
even had time to eat twice in one day (v. 84-85).
Darro (v. 128) is Sombo Darro, the field of the batle; Tullu Warqie (v. 19) is a
mountain near Darro; Sambo (v. 24) is a measure for corn. Note that verse 50 is
found also in song 15, v. 30, and verse 62, also in song 23, v. 90. The tongo
(v. 67) is a tree, which has a trunk so tough that one cannot split it even with
an axe. Near Entotto (the capial of Shoa at this time, 1889), there is a forest
of tongo. Mount Baqqo (v. 75) is in the territory of the Mao negroes. Sanqilla
(v. 76) is the common Abyssinian name of the negroes. The Garo River (v. 78) is
a tributary of the Diddiessa.
Wacca Dabalo, chief of the Sibu Ganti, had taken part with the Arabs, and he had
aided them in the battle at Sombo Darro. Once when he had decided to hunt
elephants, the sorcerers of the region gave him unanimous counsel not to depart
on the appointed day. Waccu did not delay his departure, however. In the night a
great storm threw down the sacred sycamore of the tribe; at day-break a
thunderbolt killed Waccu’s horse, and his uncle was found dead in his bed; when
Waccu mounted another horse, a python came out form a thcoket and assailed him,
but he killed the serpent and departed. Then he killed two elephants and
returned happily to his house, contrary to all predictions.
Dabalo ya Dabalo Daymo
sombo qilliessi gigse
bakakkan guyaf bu e
wasillan guya gae
boft awara sifata 5
Waccutti dolgie dabale
Moroda quba damna
Amanten huddu dabe
Tuqa tuttuqe lale 10
Mori qilliessa daqe
Danno Gibietti qiese
Gobanan Soa gale
Gobie yo quba dabe 15
anos gimbiko yabe
Aramnis dili tate
arbis dilala tate
gabanno gird gedu
gabana maltu gird 20
garbicci gango yamna
tumtu gano yamna
tumtu gano uffanna
Goie ya Goie Danci
tumtun gula yyabattu
bufa yabatti male 25
yoi du akos tati
galanniso ha id u
laga bu i bba Sombo
Abba Sombo sardai 30
qallu Mandi dale
kadati gettes gore
ya rie e biya badi
kan Sambe Soddu hafi 35
ya qallu biya badi
kan Abba Diso hafi
1 Dabalo, O Dabalo (son) of Daymo.
2 The Sycamore has been thrown down by the storm.
3 The Thunderoblt has fallen by day.
4 Your uncle has reached his (last) day.
5 The serpent has eaten the powder.
6 The exterminator (son of ) Dabalo.
7 Waccu has added an adult elephant (to his former spoils).
8 Moroda has stopped his fingers.
9 Amante has stopped his back.
10 The Tuqa taste and watch.
11 Moroda has gone off (like) the wind.
12 Danno has flown to othe Gibie.
13 Gobana has returned to Shoa.
14 The exterminator (son) of Dabalo!
15 If Gobana has had news of it,
16 I have ascended to my castle.
17 Also the Arabs have been defeated,
18 and the elephant has become merchandise fit for a huckster.
19 “The time has arrived!” they say.
20 What time have they said?
21 The slave rides the mule;
22 the smith wears the toga!
23 O Gobana, O Gobana (son) of Danci,
24 the smith rides the horse!
25 Ride a pitchfork indeed!
26 The exterminator Dabalo!
27 Even if it is my death,
28 praise be to God!
29 Descend to the river, O Abba Sombo.
30 Abba Sombo Sarda
31 has worn the magic shirt.
32 The sorcerer Abba Mando is born.
33 I have passed by the way which you ahve told me.
34 May all the shegoats in the region perish!
35 Let only the shegoats of Sambe Soddu remain!
36 May all the sorcerers in this region perish!
37 May Abba Diso remain!
Notes. Waccu is called by the name of his father, Dabalo. The verses 1-7
enumerate the events of the day which should have been unlucky for Dabalo. The
verses 8-13 allude to the sorrow of Dabalo’s enemies when they heard of his
victory: Moroda first has been struck by wonder, then has fled (v. 8, v. 11),
Amante has stayed (v. 9); Danno and Gobana have escaped; the Tuqa did not
believe the news. The verses 19-20 allude to the prophecies which have been
denied by events. The verses 21-25 insult Gobana by calling him “smith,” because
he used guns for the first itme in these regions. Verses 26-37 again mention the
false sorcerers. Abba Sombo (v. 29-30) and Abba Mando (v. 32) were two
sorcerers who had predicted Dabalo’s death; Abba Diso (v. 37) another sorcerer,
had given to Dabalo the counsel to depart. Sambe Soddu (v. 35) was a rich owner
of cattle in Lieqa Sibu. The verses 34-35 make the usual sound parallelism with
the verses 36-37. Dabadab (v. 6, 14, 26), the title which the singer gives to
Waccu Dabalo is the Galla relative form of the Amharic root dabaddaba, “to hit,”
“to massacre.” Verse 29 alludes to the Galla belief that the genii live in the
rivers. The belief is widespread among all the Hamitic peoples of the Ethiopic
plateau. (See Appendix and song 117; I). 59
After defeating the Dervishes, Ras Gobana returned to his residence at Hindieba
Gacci and remained there for a year. Then he had a struggle with the sorcerer,
Abba Caffie (see songs 27-29), ordered that Abba Caffie be arrested, and
sentenced him to death. Abba Caffie said to Gobana, “I shall die today, but
within three days, Moroda Bakarie will also die, and within seven days you
yourself will die!” Gobana, impressed by the prediction, decided to return
immediately to Falle in Shoa. However, the day of his departure, the news
reached him that Moroda was dead (Moroda’s tomb was found open, and three
sperents were twined to his corpse). Gobana continued on his way, but, falling
from his horse, died exactly as Abba Caffie had predicted (according to
Loransiyos’s tale)! Alluding to the life of Daggac Wadago, son of Ras Gobana, a
dandy, not fit for a warrior, this song was sung:
ya okkote damfi gommand waggin
karan Gibie hafe Gobana WAggin
1 O pot, boil with sprouts!
2 The way of the Gibie has remained with Gobana!
Notes. This means: there is no one who can follow in the steps of Gobana beyond
Another protagonist of the wars between the Galla and the Amara during the reign
of Menilek II was Ras Dargie (Galla pronunciation, Dargie). He was the son of
Sahle Sallasie, king of Shoa and brother of Hayla Malakot, the father of Menilek
II. His war-name was Abba Gersa. 60 After the conquest of Salalie, accomplished
with the aid of Gobana (see song 39, introduction) Dargie was appointed governor
of this region. His two residences were at Salalie and Ficce. As Waldie Baseyum
(see song 38) had not helped to conquer the Guragie’s land, Ras Dargie was
charged by Menilek to subdue the Guragie and the Arussi Galla. As to the
Guragie, the expedition ended successfully and many inhabitants of this region
were taken prisoners and sold as slaves. On the contrary, the Arussi resisted
desperately, led by Sek Nur Husseyn (Galla pronunciation of the Arabic name,
Sayh Nur Hussayn). He had, according to Loransiyos, gone to the Arussi country
from Harar, to convert these wild Galla tribes to the Moslem faith. In the
beginning, he had little success. Once while he was teaching the Koran, he was
assailed by a squadron of pagan horsemen. They rushed upon him; but Nur Husseyn,
making a sign with his hand, turned them all to stone. The pagans, still in the
posture of hurling their spears, thus became statues of stone. Even today
pilgrims go to admire these statues of Nur Husseyn’s enemies; they are near the
grave of Nur Husseyn in the place which is called “Sek Nur Husseyn”. 61 After
this miracle, the Arussi were all converted to Islam. When Dargie moved against
them, Nur Husseyn proclaimed a holy war (gihad). An officer of Ras Dargie,
Fiawrari Dufera who was in the vanguard of the invaders, was defeated at Fugug
and obliged to withdraw. After some other unfortunate combats, Dargie himself
was forced to retreat to Shoa:
ya ilma hada mattieda
duro gabbota waggin dulte
gabbotakie ssa takalte
gubotakie qabde dulta
nuso Nurie qamnera 5
1 O son of a slave mother,
2 first you have gone to war with your calves.
3 Where have you bound your calves?
4 You go to war with your slaves,
5 and you (go) with Nur!
Notes. Ras Dargie had taken with him in his expedition his sons Dasta, Asfaw,
and Tasamma. Mattie (v. 1), like Tombore, is a Galla insult; it is the name for
slaves from Sidama districts
Here is the tiumphal song of the Arussi after the retreat of Ras Dargie:
qoti na qocisi imolte
bien duarkiena adiemu
akka Gobielma Dancifa
akka Fitie Takilefa
akka Garado Waldiefa 5
akka Kallie lma Nadofa
boda garadif toldfi
dura gimgan adiemu
ya Dargie bu i gamogi
hinni lolakie soddatte 10
du’a yadi Nur useni
ano ilmo Nur useni
getta gollueb /aryssuda
tujueb gat tdte loni
fariden Dargie bubbisada 15
fardien Alelu qilliensa
sadi tane si nsodannu
baca lma loko guccoda
nigufni bacan kunio
oft Soa Iessa ta e 20
Dargie Arussitt aliela
Dargie gudda nu si ngone
Gobana nu barari
qillissa Gobie lma Danci
Gobie bokka maskiomi 25
bu a baa mballiessa
galala golluma wali
mal amanta ya gofta 30
oft Soa tessanio
Dargie Arussiti aliieldni
basera kan niti buse
inno dasi laga buse
bule Tasamma si mbusa 35
guya gafa rbi gabafa
hatun Gulliela cabofa
gafa Soa galtanto
ilmiko essa girare 40
gafas gafattu ya garsa
du arussi baranao
Dargien awaga murera
Minilik tuma tumera
inoliessin ya lma gemi 45
balballi himu gedera
ya hada russi kan diesse
mieka durba gad adiemte
ya russi mma girata
akkattu Nuru qabdetta 50
Dargie dibbe onsisifte
Soa hundasatt ogome
Kan Dargie guddatti ragga
robi Amarri gad dulu
Arussin du a nsodatu 55
mali balliesitta lmoko
imbai ya lmon Salalie
incietu Macca gamati
kan Abba Gifar guddato
ingaltu Gimma gamati 60
hati lma tokko dabdeti
misiro koba bulteti
ya russi busuma busi
indufa guyankie manna 65
wal ilalla wal ilalla
yogga rfasan kuni dite
nigufni siera tumera
Gllan awaga rukuta
Gobien Falle quba nata 70
Wlien Eggu quba nata
Mikun Wallo quba nata
gafa rfasan kuni date
1 Plough and let me plough, O child!
2 Come on! go before us,
3 as Gobana, son of Danci,
4 as Fitawrari Taklie,
5 as Gardo Waldie,
6 as Dallansa, son of Nado!
7 Retreat is fit for servant maids!
8 Let the coat of silk go before!
9 O Dargie, descend to the valley!
10 If he fears to fight you,
11 the warrior of Nur Husseyn, he will die.
12 “I am the son of Nur Husseyn,”
13 the child of the Arussi has said.
14 The herdsman leads down the cows.
15 The horses of Dargie are breezes.
16 The horses of Alelu are storm.
17 We are three, but we do not fear you!
18 The proud son of Lokko Gucco!
19 This proud emperor
20 remains in Shoa,
21 and pushes Dargie to the Arussi!
22 Dargie, we do not estimate you highly!
23 May God preserve for us Gobana!
24 The storm, Gobana, son of Danci!
25 Gobana, rain of September!
26 He does not fear and will not leave off (coming);
27 he will not leave off (coming) in behalf of the Oromo!
28 He wastes on the ascent nan the descent!
29 (Their) love is like a voluble boy!
30 Why do you trust (them), O lord?
31 They remain in Shoa,
32 and push Dargie to the Arussi.
33 He has already deserted, he will desert his wife,
34 he has deserted the das at the river.
35 Within a short time, he will desert you, O Tasamma!
36 The day of Friday is serious.
37 The brigand Gulliela (native) of Cabo!
38 “Do no question about your relatives!”
39 When you have returned to Shoa,
40 “Where is my son?”
41 if you, O old man, question,
42 “He is dead by the (hand of the) Arussi this year!” (This is the answer!)
43 Dargie has issued (lit. cut) a proclamation.
44 Menilek has sanctioned a law (lit. has struck a stroke).
45 “Do not speak, O son of Agemi!
46 Let the door speak!” you have said.
47 O mother who has given birth to the Arussi,
48 how many girls have you afterwards brought forth?
49 O Arussi, you live now,
50 and justly have taken Nur with you.
51 You have wasted the drums of Dargie.
52 The Shoans have all perished.
53 O wonder of Dargie, the great!
54 Friday the Amara have descended for the invasion.
55 The ARussi do not fear death.
56 Why do you ruin yourself, O my son?
57 Do not go out, O son of Salalie!
58 Pass to the strangers of the other bank,
59 to the land of Abba Gifar, the great!
60 Enter Gimma on the other bank!
61 The mother has lost her only son.
62 The bride has spent the night alone.
63 The king has grieved because of it.
64 O Arussi, descend to the attack;
65 your fortune has come; is it not true?
66 We will see each other again, we will see each other again,
67 when autumn shall be ended.
68 The king has proclaimed (lit. struck) a law.
69 The Galla issue (lit. hit) a proclmation.
70 Gobana will eat his fingers in Falle
71 Walie in Yeggu will eat his fingers!
72 Mika’el in Wallo will eat his fingers
73 when this autumn shall be ended!
Notes. The song begins by railing at Dargie, who, contrary to the other
Abyssinian chiefs quoted in verses 3-6, used to follow his army in the last
ranks, rather than fight in the first line (V. 1-0). The coat of silk (called in
verse 8 by the Amharic word, gimga) is the sign of the rank of ras (see song 56,
v. 24, 65). Fitawrari Taklie (v. 4) was afterwards appointed ligaba; he died at
Amba Alagi, fighting against the Italians.
Then the singer speaks of the Arussi, led by Nur Husseyn, who has said, “May we
die if we fear Dargie!” (v. 10-14). Among the Arussi there were soldiers of
Alelu, an Arussi village, with their chief, the son of Lokko Gucco (v. 15-18).
After stating that Menilek sends others to war while he remains in ambush in
Shoa (v. 19-22), the minstrel appeals to Gobana, hoping that he will remember
his Galla origin and stand by the Arussi. Why does he trust the Amara rather
than his compatriots (v. 23-30)? Then the retreat of Dargie is described (v.
31-35); verse 35 alludes to Daggac Tasamma Dargie. Verse 36 alludes to a
warrior, Gulliela about whom Loransiyos knows nothing. Ras Dargie, to avoid the
discouragement of the people in his domain, had forbidden his soldiers to give
any news to the civilians about the outcome of the expedition. They were merely
permitted to announce to the families of the dead soldiers the death of their
kinsman without any details concerning the engagements. The families also were
forbidden to celebrate the tazkar of the dead soldiers, i.e. the solemn
obsequies. An officer of Dargie, “the son of Agemi” violated this order and
therefore was removed and exiled on the amba (v. 37-46). “Only the door may
speak,” says verse 46; that is, without tazkar, only the absence of joy in the
families of the dead soldiers my announce their death.
The singer then asks how many girls the mothers of the Arussi had brought forth
to counterbalance the birth of such valiant warriors (v. 47-48). The verses
56-60 invite the Galla auxiliaries of Dargie, the natives of Salalie, who found
against their compatriots, the Arussi, to desert. And after mentioning again the
casualties of the Amara (v. 61-63), the song ends by challenging Dargie to
another combat after the season of the rains. Note the abbreviated form of the
peronal names in this song: Gobie = Gobana; Fitie TAklei = Fitawrari Taklie
(which itself is the abbreviated form of the name Takla Giyorgis); Dallie =
Dallansa; Miku = Mika’el. Similar abbreviated forms are very common in all Galla
songs; I have not mentioned them explicilty each time, as they may be found
passim throughout the article.
The soldiers of Dargie answered the song of the Arussi with the following verses
which announce the arrival of Menilek to aid Ras Dargie:
yogga birranis barite
Arussi mal malatetta
garumto disaf indisu
atis dufunke kutteda
kan hunduma yo giesse 5
yo Walie sila nankaku
maqan fardasa Dattoda
yo Wallo sila sobami
yo Gobien sila nankaku 10
Arussi wa qabamtetta
Nurukie nuatt abatu
fidi gabbota cimdida
gurbien saddietamni dulte
Arussi malfa kagelta 15
fidi gomfa manakiena
ganna sila mana mbdnu
ganna dakatti gaw wamu
Guargie bisan innatu
Bacci Sabosa gamafa 20
baccisi warqie sa dima
Dano sila si nankatu
akka sila si nankakne
Maryam gede kakatera
abbatie Giyuorgis gedera 25
akka birra kuni bate
dull Arussi ganamada
fidi ya russi gabbota
utu naddienkie nqabin
gabbonkie nbogamin 30
fiidi gomfasa warqieda
warqie Sanqillan ungulale
fidi gomfa mana ta u
kanumto isin caliu
Lieqa sanan gabbarera 35
gan Gimma gabbarera
torban Gudru goabbarera
ma Arusi gomfa didda
“Awasin bola fakkatte
gad dule bakkien imbatu 40
Dano sila nkakatera
akka nafne Arussini
mal malatetta Arussiko
omfa fiddufis imbate
kana diftufis badida 45
1 And when the spring breaks forth,
2 what have you planned, O Arussi?
3 These (i.e. the Amara) will not give up the enterprise.
4 Also for you, your coming is decided,
5 even if you will lead all,
6 because Walie will not give up coming!
7 The name of his horse is Tattaw,
8 a furious hero!
9 For even if the Wallo lie,
10 if Gobana will not give up coming,
11 O Arussi, you will be caught!
12 Let your Nur be in charge of lamps!
13 Bring calves for the yoke!
14 Let eighty young men descend for the expedition!
15 O Arussi, what do you desire?
16 Bring the tribute to our house,
17 because we will not go out of the house during the spring.
18 During the spring one calls down to the valleys
19 Let the water take away the Guragie!
20 O Bacci Sabo of the other bank,
21 carry of us red gold!
22 Because Danaw will not give up coming against you,
23 and will not give up coming against you.
24 By Mary, he has vowed and sworn.
25 By my father, Saint George, he has vowed.
26 As soon as the spring breaks forth,
27 the expedition against the Arussi is to be made at morning.
28 Bring to us the calves, O Arussi,
29 before your wives be taken,
30 before your sons be prisoners!
31 Bring to us the tribute of gold,
32 the gold which the negro hoards!
33 Bring it and let it be hidden in the coffers.
34 Those who are stronger than you,
35 the five Lieqa tribes, have paid tribute.
36 The six Gimma have paid tribute.
37 The seven Horro have paid tribute.
38 How can you, O Arussi, refuse tribute?
39 Do you believe that the Awas is a precipice?
40 He, Menilek, will descend for the expedition and will fight on the plain,
41 because Danaw has sworn
42 that he will not give up the expedition against the Arussi.
43 What have you planned, O my Arussi?
44 Bring the tribute, and you will go out!
45 If you neglect this, your end will come.
Notes. The verses 4-5 state that the Arussi will come to the court of Menilek
to surrender themselves as the other Galla tribes have done (afterwards
enumerated in verses 35-37). Verse 9 alludes to the question of whether or not
Ras Mika’el would fight against the Galla, compatriots of the Wallo and
Mussulmen, as he himself once was. Verse 12 puns on the word Nur, name of the
sheikh of the Arussi, and nura, “lamp” (Arabic, nur). Verse 18 means that during
the season of the rains, they (the Amara) will remain on the hills and thence
they will call the Arussi to bring tribute (this is the explanatoin given me by
Loransiyos); but they will not descend into the valleys (cf. the frequent
invitation in the preceding Arussi song, “O Dargie, descend to the valley:).
Verses 19-21 allude to the Guragie who were allies of the Arussi against Dargie.
Their chief was Bacci Sabo, native of the Caha, the chief tribe of the Guragie.
Verses 22-26 quote the oath of Menilek to come against the Arussi. Note the
Amharic forumula of both oaths: Maryam (v. 24) = Mary, abbatie Giyorgis (v. 25)
= my father, St. George (Galla, abbako Giyorgis). Verse 39 means: Do you believe
that the river Awas is an insurmountable barrier?
When Menilek decided to conquer Harar, he first of all asked Ras Dargie to join
this new enterprise, but Dargie, who had already been engaged in the war against
the Arussi refused. Therefore Menilek sent to Harar, Daggac Walda Gabr’el,
governor of the Ittu land, who was defeated and driven back. Again the negus
made overtures to Dargie. Dargie refused again, perhaps not wishing to aid
Daggac Walda Gabr’el, with whom he was not on good terms because of the
followoing incident. A little time before the overtures of Menilek, DArgie had
ordered his officer, Fitawrari Hullumanti, to occupy Copa, an important
strategic position on the frontier between the Arussi and Carcar. But Walda
Gabr’el, saying that Copa belonged to his territory, sent there Fitawrari Sori
Abba Gamar, who forced Hullumanti to withdraw. Dargie was much offended by this
affair, and it was said that he afterwards ordered the murder of Fitawrari Sori.
Sori was actually killed in a place on the way to Harar, which is still called
Mot Abba Gambar, i.e. “Abba Gambar’s Death.”
After the refusal of Dargie, Menilek himself carried out the invasion of Harar
(1887), and after conquering the land, appointed Balambaras Makonnen governor of
Harar; on this occasion, Makonnen received also the title of daggac. He easily
reconciled the Harargie, and his soldiers, comparing the prompt pacification of
Harar with the long and unsuccessful wars of Ras Dargie against the Arussi,
Makonnen alelu Dargie diesse gale
hagugate nata sabasa bielase
1 Forward, O Makonnen! Dargie has returned (to his house) flying!
2 He (Dargie) eats after veiling his head and causes his men to be hungry!
Notes. For the answer by Ras Dargie’s minstrels, see ‘Canti popolari amarici’.
62 The eating with veiled head demonstrates the greediness of Ras Dargie (v. 2).
Ligg Hayla Maryam Gugsa, son of Ras Dargie, who was one of my informants, denies
that there had been rivalry between his father and Ras Makonnen. On the
contrary, Loransiyos states that the motives of dissension between the two
chiefs were anterior even to the expedition to Harar. (Ligg Gugsa is the
youngest son of Ras Dargie, and he was only about fifteen years old at the time
of the conquest of Harar). Loransiyos, as a proof of his assertion, cites the
following song. Ras Gobana at the beginning of his career had led an expedition
against the Karrayu and the Afar (Danakil) of Adal. Makonnen, at this time
ligaba, was one of the officers of this expedition. According to Loransiyos, the
date of this affair was about eight years before the conquest of Harar, that is
in 1878-79. Makonnen fought very valiantly and afterwards demanded of Menilek a
new feudal title. But Ras Dargie blocked his promotion. This was the chief
motive of the rivalry between Dargie and Makonnen, and alluding to this
oppositoin of Dargie, a minstrel of Makonnen’s court sang:
Gobanni wa malatera
gogatti bate harreda
ko gard wa malatera
Dargien ilma waggin dula
Minilik ya lma wayessa 5
hibbilik mali balliessa
ungulolien tuma nugi
mosollolie dirsi guli
dule gurbankie wayessa
kan durf soba balliessa 10
dulile Awasin gattate
gula mana kiessa ole
guran gimala gag gure
gula mana kiessa cisa
Cisi gula manakieti 15
bali bai manakeiti
Gobanni dana ta era
Dargiem molokkusie ta era
Makonno ya Guddisako
guddaddu ya Guddisako 20
sirrien kan kiessan fakkatte
ligaba galci abbatti
fudduka rasa guddada
akka Dan ilma guddafa 25
Gobie sitti cittera
ode sitti firrikiefa
Makonnen rasa ta era
mal godu garsa gga bulci
tiksisu holotasa 30
ha igaruka SAlalie
kan calcisa no hundae
gede Dano Milufa
motumman kan bodanati
DArgie bu i gamogi 35
galaliessa Maku fude
galaloko Maku fude
yo sibilla haddisida
adiemaka akka llatti 40
kana Makonnentu base
busi Dargie gadi basa
tisisa sirrie sa gofta
sani duftu Gudisati 45
ya nomi sofuma sofi
namn akka Waqa didte
ya sori bouma boi
gafarso hoqa funana
nienco karrasa daccasa 50
galdiessis garbu egafa
motin motumma kanati
ya Maku caluma cali
Miniliki dalci kiessa
Miniliki hori kiessa 55
Garbi Sango bba Turafa
Onco Daso lma Dagiefa
namn akka Fayo Surufa
ka a gala mankiena 60
motumman kan nama tokkoti
sa on korma nqabnere
gafa hora fokkifture
namni qamisi nqamnere
sani rasisi mbane 65
ilal akka sen fokkiftue
1 Gobana has decided upon something;
2 he has worn the skin (i.e. the cloaks of skin) and runs.
3 My mind has decdied upon someting.
4 Dargie goes to war with his sons.
5 “O Menilek, good child,
6 why do you suddenly waste everything?”
7 I have boarded the nug and I thrash it.
8 An energetic girl ahs a sluggish husband.
9 The good child has gone to war;
10 he has wiped out the ancient wrong.
11 He has gone to war, he has descended to the Awas.
12 The sluggard has remained in his house.
13 The brave man has overthrown the camels.
14 The sluggard has slept in his house.
15 Go out of your house, O coward!
16 O cursed man, go out of your house!
17 Gobana has become judge.
18 Dargie has grown pious.
19 O Makonnen, O my Guddisa,
20 may you increase, O my Guddisa!
21 Do you believe that the throne is yours?
22 Leave off the title of ligaba!
23 Take the title of great ras!
24 Come on! Wear your shirt of silk
25 like Danaw, the great son!
26 Ras Gobana has decided in your favor.
27 Your kinsmen speak in your favor.
28 Makonnen has become ras!
29 What will you do, O old man with ill-omened eyes?
30 Let him graze his sheep!
31 Let him build the enclosure for them in Salalie!
32 “This will be the chief of us all,”
33 has said Danaw Menilek.
34 And afterwards, he (will obtain) the sovereignty.
35 O Dargie, descend to the valley!
36 The love of Menilek is for Makonnen.
37 My love also is for Makonnen!
38 If the iron is new,
39 his name is Wagigra (Gras).
40 Come on! Go as a vulture!
41 Such (arms) have been used first by Makonnen! (lit. such arms Makonnen has
caused to go out).
42 Descend, O Dargie, go away!
43 O flies of the lord’s throne!
44 His kingdom is the kingdom of the bees,
45 who is born from the stok of Guddisa!
46 O wood of homi, plane tree and plane tree!
47 A man like unto God has approached.
48 Shed, O rich man, your tears!
49 Even as the buffalo collects the gras;
50 even as the lion guards the enclosure for cattle;
51 even as the monkey guards the barley,
52 so the king guards his kingdom!
53 O Makonnen, be enven more superior!
54 Among the sons of Menilek,
55 among the cattle of Menilek,
56 (there are) Garbi (son) of Sango, lod of (the horse) Tura;
57 Onco (son) of Daso, son of Dargie;
58 Balambaras of Sango, lord of (the horse) Tura;
57 Onco (son) of Daso, son of Dargie;
58 Balambaras Faysa,
59 a man like to Faysa (son) of Suru!
60 Go out of our houses, return home!
61 The sovereignty (must belong) to only one man!
62 Cows without a bull,
63 when (they go) to the salt springs are shameful!
64 A man who does not wear the shirt of silk,
65 a noble man who does not become a ras,
66 all this is shameful!
Notes. The verses 1-4 explain that while Ras Gobana and the singer had planned
something (i.e. to demand the title of ras for Makonnen), Ras Dargie was far
away in the Arussi land, thinking it woudl be easier to obtain this appointment
from Menilek at such a time. If Makonnen should be appointed ras, Dargie on his
return would complain of this to Menilek (vv. 5-6 are supposed to be spoke by
Dargie), but he could not revoke it. Verses 7-16 contain the usual boasts, and
the mockery of cowards. Wtih verse 17, the singer begins to demand definitely
the title of ras for Makonnen. Verse 18 alludes to the fact that about this
time, Ras Dargie had constructed a sumptuous church in Salalie. The church had a
pavement of marble, and was considered, therefore, a wonderful edifice. After a
few years, it was desrtryed by fire, so Ligg Gugsa Dargie tells me. As to verse
19, remember that Makonnen was a son of Guddisa and brother of Daggac Haylie
Guddisa (see song 35, v. 4). Most interesting is the verse 34, which, if it is
not a recent interpolation, should bear evidence that even at that time
(1878-79), there was talk of the probable succession of Makonnen to the throne
of Menilek. The verses 30-31 refer to the sons of Dargie who always accompanied
him. Perhaps verse 31 alludes to Ligg Gugsa, who was fostered by the Galla in
Salalie. The verses 37-41 extol another virtue of Makonnen: he first introduced
into Ethiopia the use of guns, gras, which he had received from the French
government. It is well kown that Makonnen, — and today his son, — was a good
friend to the French. The verses 42-45 rail at Ras Dargie who had not appointed
in his army a single officer daggac, except his own sons. This court, formed
only by fitawrari and subaltern officers, had caused the Shoans to give Dargie
the Amharic nickname ya-zimb dana, (in Galla, dana tisisa), i.e. “the judge of
the flies.” The verses 46-53 praise Menilek who had given peace to his kingdom,
even as the lion guards the cattle. The verses 54-60 allude to three warriors
who had fought in the expedition: Garbi Sango, native of the Galan tribe;
Fitawrari Onco Daso whose mother was Dagie, also a Galan; and Balambaras (today
Daggac) Faysa Suru, native of Gimma Qadida. The sense of verse 60 is not clear.
Verses 61-66 end the song by again demanding the desired title. The verses 7-8,
5-6, 46-48 are connected by sound parallelism.
The Oborra Galla, a tribe between Shoa and Wallo, rebelled against the Emperor
Menilek. He sent against them Ras Dargie, Makonnen, and other chiefs. However,
in spite of the boast of the Shoans, the Oborra together with the Abbiccu clan
governed by Tufa Botora, resisted valiantly for an entire year.
gara murti nqabni
ta e raro dira
billiqa bba Golga 5
Gate Haro gira
ya golie Minilik
Dargie abba gudda
yomi wal agarra
yogga bonni bata
1 Makonen (son) of Guddis
2 has no colic;
3 he chatters with the peole
4 After some time, I will stitch the horse-cloth.
5 The thunderous lord of (the horse) Golga,
6 love of the king,
7 Gate is in Haro.
8 O sons of Menilek,
9 Dargie, the great father.
10 Garasu (son) of Birratu,
11 when shall we meet each other?
12 When summer breaks forth.
Notes. Verses 2-3 allude to the boasts of Makonnen and perhaps, ironically, to
his weak body. Verses 4 and 7 are connected with sound parallelism. Gate (v. 7)
is Ligg Gatane, an old officer of the Shoan court, who fought against the
Oborra. As to Grazmac Garasu, son of Daggac Birratu (v. 10), see song 64.
After a year of war, the Oborra yielded. But Menilek, according to his
established policy, did not take vengeance on the Oborra. He simply imposed a
tibute and replaced Daggac Wubie, chief of the Oborra, with Ligg Gatane. Wubie,
instead of being punished was appointed governor of the Nonno. (Promoveatur ut
gafarsi nadalu ya Mietta
gabanni ngalu biekta
kan gara talba facafte
kan garsa Darra badafte
garsa mata muka rri 5
1 The buffalo does not generate sons, O Mietta!
2 You know that time does not return!
3 You have sown flax for the belly!
4 You have sent us the old man of the Darra,
5 the old man with a head, like the tree, harri!
Notes. The Oborra, speaking to their allies, Mietta, complain because Menilek
has given them as chief, an old man, Ligg Gatane. Darra (v. 4) was the native
coutnry of Gatane. The flax (v. 3) is used by the Galla as medicine for colic.
The tree, harri (v. 5), called in Amharic Ya-gamma incat, i.e. “the tree of the
mane” has instead of leaves a kind of thorn of a whitish color, very similar to
the hair of an old man.
The Emperor Menilek, having completed the conquest of Lieqa, assembled the
prinicipal chiefs of the subdued Galla regions among whom were the Warra Biera
and the family of Moroda. Ligdi, son of Bakarie and brother of Moroda, was on
this occasion appointed chief of the king’s guards, after defeating the
candidate who was opposed to him by the Warra Biera, the famous Rumicco Biera
(see song 28). Ligdi was always loyal to the Emperor, but he did not discard the
spear, the weapon of the Galla nobles, and always refused to arm himself with a
gun, the weapon of the Europeans.
wa gmana tani
akka golie bba Dano
akka gollie bo Dargie
gammatt agefatani 5
ya gollie gara mara
daddaba mara miti
kan atisi bufte miti
gangonni kan qitte miti 10
irra diba bba farda
nama lafo dibbiesse
fardo dibba gute
fida na qitte farda
ya gollie Dargie gudda 15
ya gollie Kumsa Mori
hir atu itt an guta
gutuf irra ndirbaba
fida na qitte farda
1 (The son) of Bakarie (son) of Godano
2 remaining on this bank,
3 like the sons of the lord of (the horse) Danaw,
4 like the sons of lord Dargie,
5 kills those of other bank!
6 I will reckon the spoils.
7 O sons of those Amara,
8 they (i.e. my spoils) are not (spoils) of the sluggish Amara;
9 they are not (spoils) of (boys) abandoned by their mothers;
10 they are not (spoils) of (fallen warriors) trampled by the mules.
11 I have overthrown horsemen!
12 As to trooper, I have a hundred (spoils of them),
13 and as to the horsemen, I have overcome a hundred.
14 Bring (spoils) of horsemen equal to (the spoils) of mine!
15 O sons of Dargie, the great,
16 O sons of Kumsa (son) of Moroda,
17 if (my spoils) are small, I will complete (their number);
18 if they (i.e. their numbers ) are complete, I will heap up (others)!
19 Bring (spoils of horsemen equal to (the spoils) of mine!
C. The Italo-Abyssinian War (1896)
When the Emperor Menilek passed the Abbay and marched toward Tigre to fight
against thge Italians, a Galla minstrel sang:
motin bar gama cee
Dano farangi reibe
Waqatti matti ya Dano
dugankieti ya Dano
1 The king has crossed to the other bank of the river.
2 O Danaw, whip the Europeans!
3 Appeal to Heaven, O Danaw!
4 You are in the right, O Danaw!
Notes. Danaw was the name of Menilek’s horse. Therefore, the war-name of Menilek
was Abba Danaw (according to the Galla pronunciation, Abba Dano).
Fitawrari Gabayahu was chief of Guragie and asallafi, i.e. cupbearer of Menilek.
He fought valiantly during the Italo-Abyssinian war. A little Amharic song runs:
Tilyan bilo nabbar Swa naw dambarie
Tilyah bilo nabbar Tigre naw dambarite
imbi ala Gabayahu tatamdo inda barie
1 The Italian said, “Shoa is a territory of mine!”
2 The Italian said, “Tigre is a territory of mine!”
3 “No!” said Gabayahu, yoked as an ox.
Gabayahu was killed in the battle at Adowah. This very beautiful song laments
iddom gara ngalllatte wayo
ule dimtu qallayo
farangi si natte ya Gabayo
Gabayo yagguma kufu 5
lelen nigusaf galti
Gabayo yagguma kufu
badde ya nitiko
nitis bor hierumti 10
Gabayo yagguma kufu
badde ya hadako
1 O cup-bearer Babayahu!
2 You have never loved your life, never!
3 Red, supple as a rod!
4 The Europeans have killed (lit. eaten) you, O Gabayahu!
5 Gabayahu, when he fell,
6 “My poor soldiers!” (he said)
7 The Soldiers went in the service of the Emperor.
8 Gabayahu, when he fell,
9 “My poor bride!” (he said).
10 His bride after one day has married again!
11 Gabayahu, when he fell,
12 “My poor Mother!”
13 has said Gabayahu!
Notes. That is, only the grief of the mother cannot be consoled.
Since before the battle, there had been a contest between Ras Makonnen and
Fitawrari Gabayahu about the order of the battle-array of their troops, after
the death of Gabayahu, a minstrel sang:
utum bardna olte
utm bardna hafte
alga qittumatt inirmattani
1 If you had lived this year,
2 if you had remained (living) this year,
3 you would have divided the throne in two equal parts (i.e. you, Makonnen and
Gabayahu, would have become equal).
In the battle of Adowah, Grazmac Birratu also was killed (see song 57). After an
expedition of Ras Gobana during the second war of Gobana against Lieqa, he had
received the command to conquer Danno Biera. (The domain of Danno was separate
from that of his son, Tucco.) He gained fame, also, through the aid of Daggac
Moroda, ancient enemy of the Warra Biera. This was the only time that Garasu
left Shoa. He always remained in the Mietta’s territory and had his residence
near Addis Abeba. He was called, therefore, “ya-Galla maskot” (Amharic), i.e.
“the window of the Galla,” because he limited his activities to looking at the
Galla from the window of his territory (Shoa). Here is a song, in which a
minstrel laments the death of Gerasu:
moti maliin ffoggani
ya Garasu Birratu
abba banti Mietta 5
ya Garasu Birratu
harki laccu foni
akka golte qallli
yo Garasu wamani
niufni ndubbata 10
bu i kiella cufi
hiyesa badase 15
rieban Birre Gole
giftin Taytuda 20
lafa Mietta qaba
sanif Mietta girti
Danno Diera Ota
guddi nfalma gede
warqien gubbon kae
guto harkasa kae
moti malin faggani 30
ya Garasu Birratu
1 What has burned the king?
2 O Garasu Birratu!
3 Garasu (son) of Birratu
4 on his horse whirled.
5 O chief of the Mietta,
6 O Garasu Birratu,
7 your two hands were (full) of meat,
8 like the son of a butcher.
9 If they called (into another land) Garasu,
10 the Emperor spoke:
11 “Descend and close the gate!”
12 For the fusileers of the Gullallie,
13 he has caused the gold to be measured out
14 on the other bank of the Diddiessa.
15 The poor man has grown rich.
16 The hero (son) of Birratu (son) of Gole;
17 his wife was Ayantu,
18 his horse was Dalacco,
19 his emperor Menilek,
20 his empress Taytu.
21 He owned the land of the Mietta.
22 His stock was Mietta.
23 “With the men of Birratu,
24 Danno Biera Ota,
25 we will have a great dispute.”
26 He placed his gold in the pot for corn.
27 Garasu (son) of Birratu
28 has placed his hand in the pot,
29 has paid tribute to the Emperor.
30 What has burned the king?
31 O Garasu Birratu!
Notes. Garasu is called in the song moti (v. 1), “king,” and abba banti (v. 5),
a title which in the Galla kingdoms corresponded to the Amara title, ras. Verses
7-8 allude to the severed genitals, war-spoils of the Galla. Verses 9-11 relate
that the Emperor ordered that the gate be closed to keep Garasu from leaving his
residency. The verses 23-29 celebrate the expedition of Garasu against Danno
II. War and Hunting Songs
Here are a few songs of the kind which the Galla call gierasa.
harka giru tiessuma cufa mbanu
waddello basa base
mata giru tiessuma bolla ngalu
karkarro basa base
gagni lluttu 5
qierransa basa base
galdiessa basa base
tumtun kolfan nadiemtu
qamale basa base 10
naggadie muka yyabdu
wannitu basa base
1 He who has a hand, does not open the door with his back;
2 the bachelor has been shameful!
3 He who has a head, does not go into a hole with his back;
4 the wild boar has been shameful!
5 The valiant does not sneak;
6 the leopard has been shameful!
7 A coward does not become proud;
8 the ape has been shameful!
9 The smith does not go on laughing;
10 the little monkey ahs been shameful!
11 The Mussulman does not climb a tree;
12 the baboon has been shameful!
Notes. The song enumerates the qualities of cowards; shameful behavior (v.
1-4), sneaking (v. 5-6), boasting (v. 7-8), lack of dignity (v. 9-12). Each
defect is common to an ignoble wild-beast: the wild boar (v. 4), the leopard (v.
6), the monkey (v. 8, 10, 12). The bachelor is reckond among the wild-beasts!
Among the Galla, great contempt for unmarried men is universal. Then follow
examples of dignity; the smith, on account of the belief in the magic powers of
the worker of iron (v. 9), and the Mussulman. Here is perhaps an ironical
allusion to the popular comparison between the Mussulemn and the monkeys, “both
crying at special hours of the day,” a mockery of the Moslem prayers, (see song
142, v. 51-55, notes).
Loransiyos knows the following version of song 65;
utu harkisa giru
huddudan cufa bane
waddello basa base
bosiettin qulla nkatu
kamietti basa bafte 5
kan qulla gagne simte
1 Although he has hands,
2 he has opened the door with his back.
3 The bachelor has been shameful!
4 An ugly girl does not rise naked.
5 Has the beautiful girl been shameful
6 who has shown herself naked to the valiant?
motin muka wa sadi
gofa firri bulfatu
woda gilli dabatu
tokko muka yaiti
iisen bira carancaretti muka 5
qotton ma tap ingone
motin ilma wa sadi
tokko gagna dalata
tokko gamna dalata
tokko arga dalata 10
isen bira carancaretti lugna
golfan ma tap ingone
1 The kings of the trees are three:
2 on account of the gofa, the family sits up;
3 the sycamore is planted by the gilla;
4 the other is the tree of the meeting.
5 Except these, the other useless trees,
6 why are they not cut down by the axe?
7 The kings of the children are three:
8 one is born valiant;
9 one is born wise;
10 one is born generous.
11 Except these, the other useless cowards,
12 why are they not cut down by the fever?
Notes. Gofa (v.2) is the celastrus edulis (Arabic qat, Amharic cat). It roots,
which are chewed by the Galla Mussulmen, have excitant powers, thus they “cause
to sit up.” The gilla (v. 3) are those who have made the pilgrimage to the Abba
Muda and have been anointed by him with butter. 63 On returning, they plant a
sycamore, the sacred tree of the Galla tribes. (See Prose, text 4, notes.) The
meting or the parliament of the Galla tribes assembles usually on a plain in the
shade of a tree, often a sycamore; the tree is called “muka yati,” “the tree of
the meeting” (v. 4).
guci adu gallatte
naqam malka dippada
irra gate bba farda
gunfura minge mbutu
fila galille mmaru 5
afan dungo hiryada
baga gefte golieda
wamicca kuda furi
as ta i gara mirga 10
gierasa dadi kiesa
gannato mora kiesa
ani kanuma yada
lubbuko mati yada
1 The gucci loves the sun.
2 I have descended to the narrow valley
3 and I have pulled down the horsemen!
4 My god-father will dress my hair;
5 the beautfiul girls will adorn my comb;
6 my friends will kiss my mouth.
7 The children will say to me, “You have killed well!”
8 Fourteen invitations.
9 “Do not leave off (coming) for a week.
10 Sit down here on the right hand!”
11 War-songs mingled with hydromel,
12 necklace within the peritoneum,
13 this is what I am thinking of!
14 As to my life, what have I thought about it?
Notes. The song describes the joyous welcome which is given to the valiant
warrior when he returns from a successful excursion. the gucci (v. 1) is a
small variety of vulture with red, transparent wings and tail. The warriors make
crests of these feathers, which they place in their hair. The gucci is the size
of a pigeon. It must not be confused with gucci (meaning “ostrich”) of other
Galla dialects. The valiant warrior adorned with these feathers is called abba
gucci, (see song 142) or balle gucci qabdu. 64 The godfather (minge – Amharic,
Mize) dresses the hair of the victorious, and anoints them with butter (v. 4);
the most beautful girls of the village place in the warrior’s hair a comb, the
haft of which is adorned with wire (v. 5). Baga gefte (v. 7), “you have killed
wel!” is the ritual welcome to the warriors returning from victorious exploits.
Gannato (v. 12) is a neckace of jet which is ceremonially wrapped up in the
peritoneum of the sacrificed victim. This Galla custom of wrapping round the
neck the peritoneum of the victim is often described by travelers, and also by
Massaja. It is evidently connected with the religious ideas about the peritoneum
(see song 23). According to Loransiyos, Menilek had forbidden by proclamatoin
this custom of the gannato, as “contrary to the Christian faith.”
bullo bullo ya burunqullo
bullo kotte rfa muta
namn ori qabu bita
odolca qullu ta e
kan lubbuko of yaba 5
1 O bay horse, O bay horse, O light horse!
2 O bay horse with four sharpened hoofs!
3 He who has money, buys it.
4 The white horse has become pure!
5 My mind rises over! (i.e. I desire it).
horfa qotisa badda
gamogi quba nqabu
horfani qotan male
attamin middan natu
horfani lolan male
attamin dirarra basu
1 Hail! field of the plateau!
2 In the valley they have no news.
3 By the vigorous ploughing, certainly (they can obtain a harvest);
4 (otherwise) how could they eat the corn?
5 By vigorous fighting, certainly (you can gain renown);
6 (otherwise) how could you distinguish yourself from other men?
Horfa! is a war-cry which usually precedes the boasting-songs. I may be compared
with the Amharic cry zarraf!
sala buttan dakkuttisala
cirriqun durba sala
sala lama batani
dirarra diessun sala 5
1 The edge of the sword on the apron is shameful.
2 To spit on a girl is shameful.
3 After bringing two edges (of a spear),
4 after ordering two (edges of a pear) to be brought,
5 the flight from men (i.e. enemies) is shameful.
Notes. As it is shameful to assail the peaceful shepherds (v. 1), or to insult a
girl (v. 2), so is it shameful to flee when one hears arms (v. 3-5). The Galla
warriors used to be followed by their valets, who bore the extra spears. Dakku
(v. 1) is a kind of leather apron worn by the Galla shepherds (Amharic, sirara).
durba qarre golboda
kal icco gorba saya
diffiekie hidi dibbi
fagakie lola addu
ani qopaen dufa 5
qopai na egdu
hati dira gewada
kan galef tiesse bosi
kan du ef kusa kufti
1 The girl has a shaved tonsure;
2 (her) clothes are (made from) calf of cow (‘s skin).
3 Play on your drum and strike it!
4 Clean your flute!
5 I will come prepared.
6 Prepare yourself and await me!
7 The mother of the warrior is stupid.
8 She sits down and weeps for him who has returned;
9 she makes preparation for him who is dead!
Notes. The mother weeps, moved by the return of her son (v. 8); the mother does
not believe the news of her son’s death (v. 9).
afurin binnan bule
sanin binnan dafure
farada magala mbittu
kan boqa qabu ndisu
durba magala nfudu 5
kan karru qobdu naisu
wal lolli wali lama
tokko matuma ndaqu
tokko ddqu ndarbatu
bosiettin wali lama 10
tokko mata nulattu
tokko ulattu nurgoftu
wal lolli mafi gibbu
gabbi bade barbadda
dulacca kufe kasa 15 (G.S.B.: diesa)
muca dute awala
boyen boratta mali
kan takka ncaranini
ilma bban dalce mali
kan takk nwdranini 20
1 I have wandered for four days;
2 I have not wandered the fifth day.
3 The horse of dark color is not bought.
4 He who has a horse with a white star on his forehead, does not remove it.
5 The girl of a poor complexion has not married.
6 He who has a girl with the fine teeth, does not desert her.
7 The (ways of) fighting are two:
8 one does nothing at all but go (to the war);
9 one goes (there) and does not hurl his spear.
10 The coarse women are (of) two (kinds):
11 one does not perfume her hair;
12 one perfumes herself and has no unpleasant smell.
13 Why do you hate the war?
14 Look for the lost calf!
15 Raise the old cow that has fallen!
16 Bury the dead girl!
17 Why does the wild boar howl,
18 if it does not grunt with joy (at least) once?
19 Why is the son of nobles (lit., son of father), born
20 if he does not hurl a spear (at least) once?
Notes. The singer commends his own perseverance in the expedition; nevertheless
he might not get any prey during the first four days (v. 1-2), but this
perseverance, says the singer, is caused by the confidence which the warrior has
of his own bravery; just as the knowledge of the beauty of a horse or a girl
keeps the love of the owner constant (v. 3-6). Verses 13-15 mention the ignoble
deeds which cowards perform.
gogo qobi godeka
qobi gode yabeka
1 Make the young elephant (like) a castor tree!
2 Make him (like a castor tree and climb him!
Notes. That is: Cut down the elephant as one cuts down a tree! As sing of
victory, the hunter climbs upon the corpse of any large wild beast he has slain.
The soldiers of Ras Tasamma, when starting on an elephant hunt, sang:
obo gofte Tasamma
agesi kottu daba
maltu kiella na daba
loti warqie daddaba
allatti rasa raqa 5
hummo rasa bokkada
si a raase na qabe
gala glau na dowe
ballies na balliesitti
dara nat gingilci 10
niti gadda na gode
balliesi qaqa funan
hatae gadi fude
moti cuqqalla Bonga 15
dirsa Alima bba Foggi
abgun mata na diga
dadan dibadda lata
abgudan muka yabe
farda na bitta ntatu 20
abgun dugdi na diga
kalle natti uwifidre
qare natti uwiftare
qare natti uwiftare
kate natti dubbiftare
motin ka e dubbisu 25
1 Of lord Tasamma!
2 “Come and kill!” he commands.
3 What gate shall be forbidden to me?
4 I have set aside the golden earrings!
5 The vulture moves towards the corpses;
6 the hornbill moves towards the rain;
7 the rash (man) moved and surpassed me.
8 He enters and keeps me from entering.
9 The balliesa has ruined me;
10 he has covered my ehad with ashes;
11 he has made me (like) a widow.
12 The balliesa taking away the soot,
13 has swept and pulled it down.
14 O my lord Tasamma,
15 king of the trench of Bonga,
16 husband of Alima (daugther) of Abba Foggi,
17 in a dream my head bleeds;
18 perhaps I will anoint myself with butter.
19 In the dream, I have climbed a tree;
20 perhaps you will buy a horse for me.
21 In the dream, my shoulders bleed;
22 perhaps you will clothe me with the cloak of skin;
23 perhaps you will rise to speak with me;
24 perhaps you will clothe me with the shirt of silk.
25 The king will rise to speak with me!
Notes. Verse 4 alludes to the custom of Galla elephant hunters who give their
wives golden earrings as a sign of victory (see song 76). The following verses
5-13 allude to the Galla custom that a warrior may not anoint his hair with
butter after his first victory. On the contrary, after gaining the first
victory, the young warrior is called balliesa (lit., waster) and he is obliged
to await his second exploit before anointing himself. According to Loransiyos,
the balliesa are much feared in battle, because they do deeds of rash bravery to
obtain the right of anointment. In fact, the singer says that he has been
preceded in killing the elephant by a balliesa (v. 5-6), who was seeking the
booty as the vulture seeks the corpses, adn the hornbill the rain (the hornbill
during the dry seasons cries with a hollow note, very similar to lamentation;
the Galla say that the hornbill thus implores the rain to fall, see song 135).
In verses 10-11 there is an allusion to the custom of the Galla widows who cover
their hair with ashes as a sign of mourning. The widow for an entire year after
the death of her husband does not cut her hair or her nails. After a year, the
old men of the tribes with solemn ceremony cut her hair and nails and thus her
mourning is finished. Verse 15 calls Tasamma, “lord of the trench of Bonga,”
because, when these verses were composed, he was in the Macca kingdom to protect
the last Amara conquests against the invasions of the king of Kaffa (Bonga was
the capital of Kaffa). Tasamma after conquering Guma, married Genne Alima (see
introduction to song 24). Verses 17-25 interpret the singer’s dreams. The first
interpretation (bleeding head = anointing with butter) and the third (bleeding
shoulders = wearing a cloak of skin) are made according to the laws of
The hunters who went from Shoa into Wallaga to hunt elephants under the command
of officers desiring renown and honors, sang their songs in Galla more frquently
than in Amharic. Here is one of their songs:
arba ya bba diedro
dalacca Buse Sayo
gowa gurra wadara
gugufe rafu bue
garti bara fakkata 5
Waq arfasa fakkata
arba ya moti Lolo
si male namni natolu
namni arba mucolieda 10
urusa male rrafu
rasa male ndammaqu
arba muka yyabani
qobi bira ndarbani
Gawa Barare robeti 15
samme gai ggaggiete
bombatu gana bate
lotin gadi dabate
niti nama rba qabu
ibsada idga dagte 20
ibsa rkatti damna
lotin ibsetti galte
niti nama rba nqabne
ibsada laga dagte
ibsa rkatti damna 25
accuma laga bulte
dabora qabe bule
1 O elephant, O ugly father,
2 O old cow of Buse Sayo,
3 the stupid one with long ears
4 stumbles and gathers sprouts.
5 He resembles a decrepit old woman.
6 He grows angry and murmurs.
7 He resembles the sky in autumn.
8 O elephant, king of Lolo,
9 without you, no man can be estimated.
10 The hunter of elephants is like a little boy;
11 he does not sleep without a cradle song,
12 he does not awake without being roused.
13 O elephant, do not climb the tree!
14 Do not pass near the castor tree!
15 It has rained at Gawa Barare,
16 the buds have been crushed.
17 The bombatu has gone out for the second time
18 and won the ear-rings!
19 The wife of a killer of elephants
20 goes to the river with a lamp.
21 If she puts out the lamp with her hand,
22 the golden earrings shine and she can return.
23 The wife of a man who has not killed elephants
24 goes to the river with the lamp.
25 If she puts out the lamp with her hand,
26 she (is obliged) to stay there during the night.
27 “I have married a coward, and I must remain there.”
Notes. Buse Sayo is a place in Lieqa Sayo; so are Lolo and Gawa Barare. Verses
1-7 rail at the old elephant who groans like an old woman or lie the sky of
autumn (during the autumn thunder is very frequent). He falls to the earth at
one blow (ironically the singer says that the elephants do this to gather the
sprouts that are on the ground, v. 4). I was not able to get any explanation of
verses 13-14. Verses 15-18 sing about the elephant hunters who ahve had only one
victory. They are called bombatu and may not give their wives earrings, unless
they kill a second elepahnt (see song 75, v. 4). The verses 19-27 allude to the
custom already mentioned, of presenting earrings to the wife of the victorious
hunter. The wife of the coward (v. 23-27) has no golden earrings which are a
brilliant lamp at the ears of the brave man’s wife.
gierara rba gesi
fasitu ilma dai
1 He who sings a boasting-song after killing an elephant,
2 will add (to the elephant) a buffalo!
3 She who sings after bringign forth a son,
4 will add (to the boy) a girl!
Notes. “I must not boast too much of my own exploits; perhaps the future will
not be so favorable as the past. The buffalo, ignoble animal, after the
elephant! A daughter after a son!”
III. Love Songs
utum an sanga ta e
sangasa didda ta e
didasa bifa ta e
naggadien na bitatti
bitatte na qalatii 5
gabatti na bafatti
bosetti na dofsisa
kamietti na bitatti
teko natti dakatti 10
waritti marman bula
waretti marman ola
namni du ada geda
anammo galala fitera
1 If I might be an ox,
2 an ox, a beautiful ox,
3 beautiful but stubborn;
4 the merchant would buy me,
5 would buy and slaughter me,
6 would spread my skin,
7 would bring me to the market.
8 The coarse woman would bargain for me;
9 the beautiful girl would buy me.
10 She would crush perfumes for me;
11 I would spend the night rolled up (around her);
12 I would spend the afternoon rolled up (around her).
13 Her husband would say, “It is a dead (skin)!”
14 But I would have my love!
Notes. The singer longs to become a cloak of skin to be worn by his sweetheart.
Salalie Gobana nmou Dargie male
galaltitie farda mbittu gangie male
yo kutate bien ya Berri
1 In Salalie, Gobana does not rule, but Dargie.
2 I do not buy your love with a horse, but with a mule!
3 If you have decided, come on, O Berri!
Notes. In the Galla lands, mules are valued more than horses (v. 2). Verse 1
makes the parallelism with the second verse.
tole tole maloi
surruba cira bora ganoi
as kot ya soba lita
tolammo gubbo si fida riga
1 Yes, very well! very well!
2 Your tresses are (like) the tail of the Emperor’s sorrel horse.
3 Come here, O liar!
4 I will give you in return a tooth-brush!
Notes. The booth-brush (Galla, riga; Arabic miswak) may be given to a girl only
by her brother or fiance.
Sula Sule Gilo oboliesse Sora
sabbata na egi nan gabiessa gara
mannagasa gadi Cangarie Sogilie
an ko gard rafe kie gara mogirre
1 O Sula (daughter ) of Sule (daughter) of Gilo, whose brother is Sora,
2 send to me your girdle; I will bind with it my sides (lit. my belly).
3 The residency here below belongs to Cangarie Sogille.
4 My heart is troubled. And your heart? I do not know!
Notes. Cangarie Sogillie (v. 3) was a king of the Mietta, who died a few years
ago, when nearly a hundred years old. This verse has no sense connected with the
song, as is usual with popular refrains.
hiddi Daggabasa baqqe kekku gadi yasa lonko
likki daggamaca DArgie
loma Dasta fakkata
lafa kka tabba cirera 5
dima Tasamma fakkata
mama kka daggadca Haylieda
turki hatie kate kate
dubbi lafe tate tate
1 Flowers of the plant hiddi are the toga of Daggabasa.
2 I will lead my cattle down to Kekku.
3 Surely the daggazmach (son) of Dargie,
4 the fragrant Dasta, you resemble!
5 I have weeded the ground as far as the ascent.
6 You resemble the red Tasamma!
7 You are a man like Daggac Haylie!
8 The Turk of the Emperor runs and runs.
9 The matter of the heart (lit. of the bones) stays and stays!
Notes. As to the plant hiddi (v. 1), see song 135. Daggabasa and Kekku (v. 1, 2)
are two villages in Calliya Obo. Daggac Dasta (v. 3-4) son of Ras Dargie,
governed Calliya Obo (he died in 1892). As to Daggac Haylie, brother of Ras
Makonnen, see song 35. The Gondarie, a corps of cavalry under the command of
Daggac Damissie, were called by the Galla, turki, “the Turk.”
This song was compaosed by a girl who celebrates the beauty of her beloved by
comparing him with the governors of the nearby regions.
— ie Kumsa gabbari Gote
na gubba maggali lmoko
— obo Gote qita dama
ya se koko rra gagama
na kiennituf ilma diesa
na dawattu masienta
1 O Kumsa, pay the tribute to Gote!
2 Answer my song, O my little son!
3 Lord Gote sends his message in haste.
4 O you, who have drooping breats,
5 give me (yourself) and you will bring forth a son!
6 If you refuse, you will become sterile!
Notes. As to Daggac Kumsa Gabra Igzi Abher, see song 32; Daggac Gote is the
chief of Lieqa Qiellem, who killed Captain Bottego (see song 49 and Prose, text
3). The song is an example of the poetical contests between a man and a woman.
The woman usually begins by defying the man with a distich; the man answers with
verses audaciously gallant. These contrasting songs are called maggala.
Miniliki arbi nate
Lofe baunko bunafi
hibbilki na rra bate
boe dabunko sumafi
1 Menilek has been eaten by an elephant!
2 I ahve ascended to Lofe because of the coffee.
3 You have surprised me suddenly;
4 I weep, I am distressed because of you!
Notes. Lofe (v. 2) is a market in Gudru. The first two verses are the refrain
of the song. Menilek is named in verse 1 only on account of the
sound-parallelism: “Miniliki,” hibbiliki.” This is proof that the Galla valued
beautiful refrains more than reverence for their chiefs!
The following refrain containing a similar crimen laesae was forbidding by a
proclamation of the Emperor.
Waqo Sibillu marate
gano iggi digu na nate
Waqo Sibillu budada
gano iggi digu sumada
1 Waqo Sibillu has gone out of his mind.
2 A toga with red eyes has killed me!
3 Waqo Sibillu is a sorcerer.
4 The toga with red eyes is you!
Notes. Waqo Sibillu, a chief of the Sulu clan, demanded and otained a
proclamation of the Emmperor forbidding this refrain.
Gobanni Danci Walloda
kott akka watiyo wal ona
Garbi Gilo abba qawet
ya lfi tinno ilkan aseti
Danno gimmata ga dule 5
yanni siana na gule
abbankie bora gegessa
wa rgankie biela fakessa
1 Gobana (son) of Danci is a Wallo!
2 Come! we will suck each other as the calf (sucks the breast)!
3 Garbi Gilo, the fusileer!
4 O little lady, whose teeth are (like) the first fruits!
5 Danno goes to war on Friday.
6 My mind wanders because of you!
7 Your father accompanies the old woman!
8 Seeing you is like hunger!
Notes. The verses 1, 3, 5, 7 are introduced for the refrain. Ras Gobana (v. 1)
was born from Wallo stock; his mother was, on the contrary, a native of Calliya
Moroda kan Bakarieti
Oromot amma saieti
galaltan ilma garbitti
tokko igare tokko diga
galalo kka ilma daltiti
tokko ilale tokko figa
1 O Moroda (son) of Bakarie!
2 The Oromo are like dogs.
3 I was in love with the son of a slave;
4 now he builds up and now he lays waste!
5 Love is like the calf of a cow;
6 now he looks (for you) and now he runs away (from you)!
ya mussie ya lma Sabure
kan harmi bu e gilba dafure
ya goana ya sodda
ati nama yaddu hinnasobda
asallafit gali 5
as kot ya waso biya bari
1 O Monsieur, O son of Sabure!
2 Her breast descends and wanders as far as her knees.
3 O Gobana, O his brother-in-law!
4 You are thinking of another, do not lie!
5 Enter the service of the cup-bearer!
5 Come here, O liar! learn the country!
Notes. Long breasts are much appreciated by the Galla as a sign of feminine
beauty. 66 Monsieur Savore 67 (v. 1) was a French merchant, who emigrated to
Shoa. The brother-in-law of Gobana (v. 3) is Birru Nagawe (see song 41). The
“cup-bearer” (v. 5) is Fitawrari Gabayahu (see song 61). Verses 1, 3, 5 are
introduced to form the refrain:
Gimma bba Gifar dufe
Addis Ababa duba qubate
garankie ha gubbatu
akkuma garanko gubbate
1 I have come from Gimma Abba Gifar;
2 I have camped behind Addis Abeba.
3 May your heart be inflamed,
4 as my heart has been inflamed!
sila Saggara n baa
ya qunna hatari saqqatakie
igga nu wal agarre
ya guya qeddmie galatakie
1 When I ascended to Saggara,
2 O qunna, the huckster bargained for you!
3 We met each other with the eyes (our eyes met).
4 O day of Saturday, may you be blessed!
Notes. Saggara is the Galla name of the region where Addis Abeba has been
built. The place of the imperial residency (gebbi) was called by the Galla,
“hieto ilman Lali,” “the kosso of Lali’s son.” Lali was an ancient chief of the
Gullalie (Koss = Brayera antielmintica).
uggum ya obo Gote
afan na dungatte
naga ta i ngettu 5
1 Very well, O lord Gote!
2 Do not send Asana!
3 She has come to my house;
4 she has kissed my mouth;
5 she will not say (to me) good-bye!
Notes. Asana is the brother of Daggac Gote (see song 49; Prose, text 3).
Burayu bba gosa
moq duwa nnatu
yo faffato male
no bira ga tiese
morma duwa nkatu 5
yo gannato male
1 O Burayu, chief of the tribe!
2 You do not eat medicines only,
3 but soup!
4 She has sat down at my side;
5 she will not have the neck bare,
6 but necklaces!
Notes. Burayu was the chief of a Lieqa Sayo clan. Faffato is the Galla name of
the kind of soup called in Amharic Fitfit (v. 3); moqa (v. 2) is a kind of
medicine made with a broth of corn.
Guragie gommana nbutu
gurra kutte male
gurratti alala mbiektu
funan butte gungumti male
1 The Guragie do not pluck off sprouts;
2 they cut the ears and sell them (i.e. the sprouts)
3 The dark girl does not understand love;
4 one pulls her nose and she murmurs!
Notes. The sprouts of Guragie are famous in Southern Shoa. The “ears” of the
sprouts (v. 2) are its leaves (cf. song 22).
94, 95, 96
The following songs were inspired by a love-adventure which befell the Lieqa. A
girl who was betrothed to a young warrior called Ayanie, became enamoured of
another warrior, Waq Kienne. Ayanie demanded, according to the customary law,
that the girl should be given to him, as he had paid the dower. The two families
met to decide whether the paid dower might be returned and the girl thus become
free again, or if it were necessary to celebrate the ritual wedding. In the
meantime, both lovers implored their judges to show mercy.
ya diessa mal doksa
Garo gadi Baro
ya sodari malo
nienca cira cira 5
dubbaddu ya fira
gargar nu nabasini
bieka dubbi fita
1 O long signal,
2 O you who fly, what do you hide?
3 Under Garo there is the Baro.
4 O my sweetheart, what is there?
5 The lion weeds the weed;
6 we will not graze our cows.
7 Speak, O kinsmen!
8 Do not separate us from each other!
9 Decide and end the matter!
Notes. The long, flying signal means Ayanie. The verses 3, 5, 6 are introduced
to make the refrain. The lion “weeds the weed” by hitting the grass of the
prairie with his tail. The decision of the meeting was that Ayanie was lawfully
betrothed to the girl, and she was obliged to marry him. She protested by
bobe ttam godure
boe ttam gonare
1 The sorghum is (full of ) seed.
2 What makes the white sorghum?
3 To cause sorrow is natural to one’s relatives.
4 I weep! What can we do?
Notes. The first two verses form the refrain. The bobe (v. 2) is a kind of
white sorghum very little valued and the people eat it only in times of famine.
Waq Kienne answered his beloved wiht the following song:
kumuntu du ada
barana si nata
Waq Kienne bba Sorro
gafa rietti caba 5
mal gette dubbiko
gafa reggi gala
ganda Kumsa Mori
tinnan ndabe lola 10
bien Naqamte ndagna
1 Ayanie is a sorcerer;
2 that is death!
3 He will eat you this year.
4 Waq Kienne, lord of (the horse) Sorro,
5 is broken (like) a horn of the goat.
5 What said to you my words
6 that day, under the sycamore?
7 In the village of Kumsa (son) of Moroda,
8 the great (man) is a coward,
9 the small does not go to war!
10 Come! Let us go away from Naqamte.
11 You will slip on the ivory;
12 your arms will have armlets of ivory!
Notes. Waq Kienne sorrowing compares himself to the broken horn of a he-goat
(“broken-heaerted,” we should say). In the houses of the rich Galla, it is the
custom to place on the ground at the side of the chief’s bed the teeth of
elephants, upon which the lord places his feet when arising. The hirbora (v. 13)
is an armlet of ivory, (Amharic, yarbora). 68 Waq Kienne’s beloved understood
the sense of the verses 6-7 alluding to a secret appointment already made, and
fled with Waq Kienne. The decision of the council of the families was therefore
ya Gobie ya gobitti
narakie soddo hamma yomitti
1 O Gobana, O coward!
2 How long shall I fear your eyebrows?
mangudda tobbe ncabsu
lakki geda galdiessan
magalli qulla nkatu
lakki geda bosiettin
1 The elder does not break the shoots.
2 “Leave off!” I have said to the (old) monkey.
3 The dark girl does not rise naked.
4 “Leave off!” I have said to the coarse girl.
— hienan getta dabe (Loransiyos: accin girako dabe) (a)
hiena gettan na dabe (as gira ma na dabde) (a)
an enta’u biyana
Sona Ofat an darba
warra angafif qutisu 5
warra ginni dubbisu
— kan qalbin nan dabare
kan yanni nan safre
kan billan butta Sabu
kan olten nama sardu 10
asi barbaden dabe
an si batan dagae
qoro Lita Dibbila
kan fanisa si finna
an si dukkan didima 15
biekan biyakie ngiru
kan gorse na diebisu
genneno cala daqti
— golgano bira nafu
gietanko ndukkubsata 20
kan akka bidda gubbu
kan akka didda dufu
erguman si galadde 25
darbe tokko ngalanne
sitt indiebiu toba
wan Rabbi mbieku male
3 I will not remain there;
4 I will go to Sona, (the land) of Ofa,
5 (where) the elder and the younger sons.
6 speak with the sons of the genii.
7 My heart has flown from me.
8 My mind has departed from me.
9 The great sword berlongs to Sabu.
10 She hastens to say to the people, “How do you do?”
11 I have looked for you here, but vainly.
12 I have heard that you have gone away thither,
13 to the district of Lita Dibbila.
14 We will pull you with the girths.
15 I have been stopped while following you.
16 Is there no one wise in your country,
17 who gives you counsel to return to me?
18 The lady surpasses (all the others).
19 The veil has not remained aside.
20 My husband (?) is sick.
21 They say that he will die.
22 O my love and his love
23 which burn like fire,
24 which come like colic!
25 After loving you,
26 I had not turned to love another.
27 I fixed (my thoughts) on you only!
28 Your thoughts were not fixed (on me); there were two!
29 I will not return to you, upon my word!
30 But we cannot know the mind of God!
(a) Verses 1-2, according to the version of Loransiyos, may be translated:
1 My stay here has distressed me.
2 Why can I not remain there?
Notes. The song is a dialogue between two lovers. The first verses (1-6) are
said by the woman who desires to go to another country, to Sona, a district in
Nonno land governed by the famous sorcerer, Abba Ofa. The man answers (v. 7-18),
lamenting the departure of his beloved. Verse 9 is introduced to make the sound
parallelism with the following verse 10. Lita Dibbila (v. 13) according to
Loransiyos, is a district of Gimma Abba Gifar, where the singer resided. The
woman replies in verses 19-309 that she is tired of the infidelity of her lover.
I was not able to get from Loransiyos any explanation of the sense of verses
19-21 in connection with the subject of the song. Toba (v. 27) is the formula of
the holy oath (kaku) as it is used by the Mussulmen (see song 143). This song
was composed by Mussulmen: this is demonstrated both by the formula toba and by
the reference to God as Robbi (v. 30). Rabbi is the name of the Moslem divinity
as opposed to Waqa, the pagan divinity.
harkako si danda’e
kan gagga mure gogsu
milako si danda’e
kan Roggie mure galu (Loransiyos: kan Roggie dieme galu)
iggako si danda’e 5
kan allatti ndorgomu
garako si daddabe
fugicca balle qabu
kan akka bare cabu
1 My hands are stronger than yours;
2 they cut and cause the tree gagga to dry.
3 My feet are stronger than yours;
4 they cut (?) and reach Roggie. (Loransiyos: They go and reach Roggie).
5 My eyes are stronger than yours;
6 they follow the vulture (in its flight).
7 My heart is less strong than yours,
8 my wicked (heart) which has wings,
9 which breaks like a pumpkin!
Notes. The bare (v. 9) is an empty pumpkin in which the Galla stir milk to make
butter. Roggie (v. 4) is the capital of the Nonno Roggie tribe on the left bank
of the Gibie, opposite Limmu. The gagga (v. 2) is a big tree called in Amharic
gubba gute kucco
liencille fon obsa
si obsa no obsi
1 Gubba is full of kucco trees,
2 of carissa edulis and kombolca.
3 Even the lion spares the flesh!
4 I spare you. Spare me!
Notes. Kucco (v. 1) is a big tree. Kombolca (v. 2) is a kind of thorny shrub
which forms thickets. Aga Mohammed tells me that this kombolca is called in
Tigrifia at at, a kind of gymnosporia. 69 On the contrary, Loransiyos tells me
that the Tigrifia word ofr komlolca is maq’i. gubba (v. 1) is a village in Nonno
Gibat, the land governed by the Genne Diso bo rqie.
akka ball agamsa
si obsinna geden
si obsu daddabe 5
akka gara dala
1 “Let us move!” I said.
2 We cannot move,
3 like the leaves of the carissa edulis.
4 “Let us spare you!” I said.
5 We cannot spare you,
6 like the belly of a woman at childbirth.
Notes. The leaves of the carissa edulis are little thorns, therefore they
cannot be moved by the wind; and the pangs of child-birth cannot be suffered in
silence. Comparisons of child-birth with love are frequent in Galla songs.
ya mana soriessa
mat adurre qaba
ya gara galala
harka ulle qaba 5
dokse nama dana
1 O house of rich man,
2 you have the head of a wild cat;
3 the pavement is polished.
4 O heart enamoured,
5 you have a stick in your hand
6 which secretly strikes men!
Notes. Love strikes men like a stick. Because of the departure of Loransiyos
from Naples, I could not get any explanation of the sense of verse 2. Verses 1-3
form the refrain.
ebon diga male ebo miti
galalli dungo male galalla miti
1 A javelin without blood is not a javelin!
2 Love without kisses is not love!
waqni gawe numte
baga qonce numte (G.S.B.: koncen umte)
kan galala umte
baga obsa umte
1 God has created the python;
2 justly he has (also) created the bark of a tree.
3 He has created love;
4 justly he has (also) created patience.
Notes. The Galla use the bark of certain trees as medicine against serpents.
naggadie giesani giesani
Tobbon gadi busani
tofo san guttani 5
1 They have led, have led the Mussulman;
2 they have caused him to ascend to Tobbo.
3 The tears of love
4 have overflowed, overflowed;
5 they have filled nine cups!
yo tafi hamatani
yo gari galattani
gara cabsa yadani
harka farsa katani
akka ambacca adani
1 If they reap the tief (poa absessinica),
2 they will eat pudding.
3 If they love a beautiful girl,
4 they expect to ruin themselves.
5 They will move their hands like a pitchfork;
6 they will roar like lions!
mar attan kotte nqabu
galattan onne nqabu
mar umantu rafama
farda bicce gudda 5
garan na rafama
akkuma fitte gurda
1 The serpent mar atta has no hoff,
2 but he has sixty nails.
3 Love has no heart,
4 but my entrails are troubled (by it).
5 Great horse sick!
6 My heart is troubled
7 as the points of the gurda.
Notes. The mar’ atta (v. 1), according to Loransiyos, is a big serpent wiht a
red heard. He has sixty little claws which the hunters cut off and sell for a
great price, because the Galla believe that these claws are a remedy for many
diseases. “My entrails” (v. 4) means “my heart, my mind.” As to the points of
the gurda, this kind of girdle worn by the women of most Galla districts (see
song 15, notes), moves whenever they walk: even so is the heart of the singer
troubled by love (v. 6-7). Verse 5 is introduced to make the sound-parallelism
with verse 7.
kue ya da Dienta
barcumma san kiesa
dombi sagal kiesa
Kue lafa tiesa
wacitti san kiesa 5
tuwe sagal kiesa
nadde qufa daben
cise rriba dabe
du e mal na egda
wallu Kue Guma 10
kan faqicci duge
bolla si qotani
anatt a gatani
waya si bitani 15
at afi dagai
an accin kakai
1 O Kue, mother of Dienta,
2 between five chairs,
3 between nine stools,
4 O Kue, I sit down ont he ground.
5 Between five plates,
6 between nine cups,
7 I have eaten and I am not satiated.
8 I have stretched and I have not slept.
9 I am dead. Why do you await me?
10 The clothes of Kue (native) of Guma
11 have been tanned by the tanner
12 of Adisa Qaqa.
13 They have dug for you a hole;
14 let them throw me in!
15 They have bought the shroud for you;
16 let them roll me in it!
17 As for you, remain and hear!
18 As for me, place me there!
Notes. The song laments for Kue, native of Guma, mother of Fitawrari Sima (see
songs 4-6) and Dienta. The Galla Spelling Book has placed this among the
love-songs, perhaps because it seems to have been composed by a lover of Kue.
The first verses (v. 1-9) express the pain of the singer who cannot calm
himself; verses 10-18 state that the singer desires to die in place of Kue.
Adisa Qaqa (v. 12) is a village in Nonno land.
gufu ya gufu gudda
gufu ali koticca
ma dufu dufu didda
Gifar itt of giesitte
Dulan of Qittiesitte 5
garri laman moticca
nu lamantu sogidda
dumbula kaa gibicca
gunguma kka ginnicca
kan iggi bobe badda 10
kan nari gimma corqie
kan konkonni fon muru
kan mormi rkotti bulu
dafura lma bba gudda
1 O stumbling, O great stumbling!
2 O stumbling (as if) the pavement were pitch!
3 Why do you refuse to come, to come?
4 Have you made yoruself equal to Gifar?
5 Have you become like Dula?
6 They are two kings;
7 we are two (bits of) salt!
8 Ingenuous as a calf,
9 murmuring like a spirit.
10 Her eyes are like the white sorghum of the plateau;
11 her eye-brows are like gimma not yet ripe;
12 her cheeks are like pieces of pierced flesh;
13 her neck is a support to pass the night.
14 Sons of nobles go mad for her.
Notes. Verses 4-5 refer to Abba Gifar, the king of Gimma, and to Abba Dula,
i.e. the king of Guma, who had this title (see Prose, text 1, note 14). Verse 7
alludes to bits of salt used as money byt eh Galla. Erse 10 mentions the bobe
(see song 95, v. 2, notes). The gimma (v. 11) is a plant with red ears. It can
be eaten, but the Galla use it principally as a remedy for infection of the
kan qalan dulacca
riettin dafi duti
kan boe garada
lappen nasu duti
1 That which they ahve killed is the old cow;
2 the shegoat has died suddenly.
3 That which weeps is the mind;
4 the heart has died because of sorrow!
Notes. Here the song distinguishes between the mind and the heart: the former is
still living and weeps; the latter has died after an unhappy affair of the
Gimma gama farddarra nta u
moti Warqie fardatu kase
kotif kankie waq arka ta u
dirma nama gargar nu base
waq arka ta e bada nfakkatu 5
1 Do not let Gimma of the other bank ride horses.
2 The king of Waqie has moved his horsemen.
3 Let my affair and yours be in the hands of God.
4 The wickedness of men has divided us.
5 As it has been (placed by me) in the hands of God, let it not seem that it is
Notes. Gimma Warqie is a little Galla state, north of the Gibie, according to
Loransiyos. The oath waq arka ta u (v. 3-5), “let it be in the hands of God,” is
very common. The Galla always swear “by the hand”: their forumla for the fitm
(the legal oath of the Ehtiopic law) is harka motitti, “by the king’s hand.”
The singer says (v. 3-5) that, although the slander of the people has divided
him from his sweetheart, he still hopes that matters can be adjusted.
Riebuf abban Riebu
kotte sanga boqa
dofie kka ilman hola
obisen warra told 10
1 Riebu and Abba Riebu
2 last evening, made an expedition.
3 They have collected shields (as spoils);
4 They have wasted Lalo
5 Pawing of the horse with a white star on his forehead!
6 Your forehead is beautiful.
7 They have gathered togas;
8 they ahve stitches draperies (for her).
9 Innocent as the little lambs,
10 she is compassionate and benign to everyone.
Notes. The first verses of the song (1-4) concern Sayo Garba, a warrior, native
of Hanna Abba Bara, who made an expedition against Lalo Qile, a village west of
Hanna. Riebu (v. 1) was the name of the horse of Sayo Garba; thus Abba Riebu
(lord of Riebu) was the war-name of the warrior. In the second part of the song
(v. 5-10), the minstrel praises his beautiful sweetheart. Perhaps the word fula
(v. 6), “front,” “forehead” should be more exactly translated “aspect.”
Riebuf abban Riebu
nuri wal samani
sargama kka Gacco
qallu kka Dagago G.S.B.: qalu 5
dallasa bba Ofa
dugda dubni muka 10
dinki gal adiema
dugda dubni du a
firditti an adiema 15
kanaf an bubbuta
1 Riebu and Abba Riebu
2 have killed a buffalo,
3 have contended on account of the nuri.
4 Swift is the (torrent) Gacco,
5 a sorcerer like Dagago.
6 These order to grind,
7 order to grind and eat;
8 they do not know impurity.
9 The enclosure of Abba Ofa,
10 the foremost part is wood,
11 the back is incense.
12 A dwarf serves him (Abba Ofa).
13 Behind us there is death;
14 before us there is old age.
15 I will come to a decision:
16 therefore, I will win (her).
Notes. Verses 1-3 refer to Abba Riebu (see song 113). Nuri (v. 3) is the trophy
of the Galla buffalo hunters, made from the skin of the buffalo’s head, and its
horns. Verses 4-5 praise the sweetheart of the singer. The Gacco (v. 4) is a
torrent in Gabba. Abba Dagago is a sorcerer of the Doranni. Verses 6-8 concern a
family of girls, so rich they eat only bread made with meal ground by slaves
(cf. song 15, v. 67-69). This is a sign of great wealth among the Galla because
usually the women of the family grind the corn. Verses 9-16 contain a graceful
comparison. The Galla sorcerers used to build the front of their compound of
aromatic shrubs. The singer says that as the front of Abba Ofa’s (sorcerer of
the Gabba Ilu) enclosure is aromatic wood, while the rest is of wood without
perfume, so the life of the two lovers is beautiful at present, but afterwards
it will have as its foremost part, old age, and as an end, death. He has
therefore resolved to make the most of his youth and win his beloved. Loransiyos
translates the word bubbuta (v. 11) with the Amharic word itan, meaning
“incense.” However, perhaps the true sense of the word is some aromatic plant.
Verse 12 alludes to the custom of the rich Galla (the sorcerers are the richest
men in these regions) of having dwarfed slaves who usually are the buffoons of
these little courts. Also at the court of Menilek II, there were dwarfed
buffoons called ya-negus accawac (“Emperor’s jester,” in Amharic). Among the
Galla the court dwarfs are called, accoding to Chiarini, satto moti “king’s
whip” (see song 21, v. 10, notes).
copope ruda e
robe bu u gae
gaddakie rura e
boe du u gae
1 It falls; it clouds (the sky);
2 the rain is about to fall.
3 Because of your pain, I dote;
4 I weep, I am about to do.
Note. Loransiyos explain that “your pain” (v. 3) means “the pain of you,” “the
pain which you cause me.”
qarmitt an gad ofa
iggan si qabera
namof si dabera
warra gartu callie 5
warra gatu nadabne
rabbitt an gad odd
rabbi ttam na gota
1 The white cow has brought forth;
2 I have led it down to the stubble field.
3 I have caught you with my eyes;
4 I have lost you on account of the people.
5 The apples of her eyes are jet.
6 There have not been lacking peole to drive (me) out.
7 I have recourse to the Lord.
8 O Lord, what will you do for me?
Notes. The singer complains that he has lost the love of his sweetheart because
of the malignity of others. Notice in verse 5, warra gartu, “the fellow of the
eye-apple” = “the two-eye-apples fellows.” Loransiyos thus explains the words,
and denies that they mean “the fellow,” “he who looks.” This construction would
be similar to the Amharic phrase, yayn mammitto. The song was composed by a
Mussulman; for God is called Rabbi in verses 7-8 (see song 96, v. 30 notes).
The Galla Spelling Book places the following love-song among the pastoral songs.
kan tullu Bure girtu
iggato qotto dabe
garato murto dabe
kan tullu mure gigsu 5
1 O merchant of the merchandise
2 who is at the mount Bure!
3 The eyes have no axe;
4 the mind has no sickle
5 to cut and throw down mountins!
Notes. This is the lament of a woman separated from her lover. Bure (v. 2) is
perhaps the capifal of Gabba Ilu.
IV. Nuptial Songs
When the date of the wedding ceremony has been fixed (if the wedding is to be
celebrated according to the rite of the rako), the bridegroom, accompanied by an
elder of his tribe called garsa dura, by four godfathers called mingie by the
Shoan Galla and marri by the Macca, by his father, and the train of his fellows
armed with wooden spears, goes to the girl’s house, driving before him the sheep
and the oxen to pay the price of the girl’s father. Reaching the bridge’s
enclosure, if an ox is to be sacrificed for the rako, the bridegroom slaughters
it. The bride’s brother leads his sister by the and to a hut expressly
constructed, and anoints her on the abdomen and the pudenda with the blood of
the sacrificed victim. 70 Then the bride’s brother cuts the ends of her hair and
keeps this hair as a sign of the bride’s blood-relationship after her marriage;
this ceremony is called qarre mura. The rako and the garre mura may not be
celebrated unless the entire bride-price has been paid. Otherwise, they simply
perform the garre mura after the birth of the first son. However, a wedding
without the rako is not considered complete according to the law of custom.
After the rako, the bridegroom, aided by his godfathers, catches the girl with
feigned violence and placing her on his horse, flies across the plain with his
fellows until he reaches running water (a river or torrent). He crosses this
stream; on reaching the opposite bank, he recrosses it, and returns at a gallop
to his father-in-law’s house. Ideas of magic connected with running water are
very common among the Galla and also among the Agau. After returning to the
compound of his father-in-law, the husband leaves the girl, who enters the hut
with her friends, after placing a piece of wood before the door, almost an
obstacle to hinder entrance. Then the friends of the bride begin to rail against
the husband, and to sing to the bride all the advantages of remaining in her
father’s house, and all the misfortunes which marriage brings.
Here are two examples of these songs:
bisinagie Giedo mure
ya sodda si hieto ndugne
warrakies intu lannemo
harkakie qabate ndugne
saf goda qawe galatti
ya diero sodda
qiero fin getta
ya diero sodda 10
meri fon maddi
gamana dappu 15
ya diero sodda
irra gge ncee
haftitti ngante 20
ya diero gurba
naddu fon nama
ega mmas giesse 25
dirsi dutada 30
hinnu si nata
1 O sorghum which Giedo cuts!
2 O the son-in-law who does not drink the kosso!
3 Does not your family hoard it (the kosso) for you?
4 Do you not catch it with your hand and drink it?
5 Knock him down with the gun!
6 “I have slaughtered!” you have said.
7 O ugly son-in-law,
8 where is the skin?
9 “I am a fine young man!” you have siad.
10 O ugly son-in-law,
11 where is the flesh of the cheeks?
12 I have driven in (the ground) the wood of homi.
13 I have ruined his mother.
14 I have suspended the dress.
15 Stop on the other side!
16 Jump on this side!
17 O ugly son-in-law!
18 He has thought that they were pebbles!
19 He has passed, tampling upon it!
20 The spinster has become old;
21 she has covered her mother.
22 As to me,
23 O ugly son-in-law,
24 eat the people’s flesh!
25 Then you have reached (middle age).
26 How many tiems have you gone into the forest?
27 The forest of Handaq is your terror!
28 Eat your bride,
29 your leather bag!
30 The husband is angry.
31 This is a sorcerer;
32 he will eat you (O girl)!
Notes. Verses 1-5 deride the husband, who, according to the singer, has a
tapeworm and does not drink kosso (brayera antielminthica), the usual remedy for
worms. Verses 6-11 mean: The husband says that he has slaughtered the ox for the
rako, but where is the skin of the victim, proof of the sacrifice? Likewise, he
says untruthfully that he is a fine young man, but he has such a weak face!
Verses 12-21 mention a ceremony which must be gone through by the husband before
entering the house of his father-in-law. The friends of the bride suspend a
woman’s dress on the peg of wood of homi, placed by the bride (see introduction
to the song), and two of them hold in their hands the two outer edges of this
dress. The husband, before going into the house, must jump over this obstacle,
and must not trample upon it with his feet. Verses 20-24 abuse the husband’
sister who has not found a husband, and say to the husband, “Marry her whom you
desire! Ruin her whom you desire!” The song ends by again mocking the “ugly
son-in-law” of the bride’s father. The forest of Handaq is between Lieqa and
durbe ya ryako
si nyadun soba
doksen guadda 5
hiena gabbinkie natue
siena qobbinkie rasue
manayokieti kiesisa boka 10
manayo allo kiesisa foqa
manayokieti cacabsa nanna
manayo allo cacaba nanna
mana illo qarqa
qarqa yabaddu 15
yabaddu bu i
ga qabi buli
1 He does not eat; it is a lie!
2 He cuts secretly!
3 O girl, my friend,
4 he does not think of you; it is a lie!
5 He is enamoured secredtly!
6 The passion 72 …
7 The passion has ruined your calf!
8 The thought 72 …
9 the thought has moved your heart!
10 Your house, its interior is hydromel;
11 the stranger’s house, its interior is filth.
12 In your house we have eaten soup;
13 in the house of the stranger we will eat bits of bread.
14 The house of the stranger is an ascent.
15 Climb up it and then down!
16 Climb the ascent.
17 The father-in-law is a cursed man.
18 His touch causes sickness.
19 Lay down your head and sleep.
In the evening, the husband and his band of friends demand entrance to the
bride’s father’s house. The friends of the father-in-law reply by railing at the
band; soemtimes they actually scuffle with wooden spears. The husband jumps over
the wood and the dress suspended at the door of the hut, and enters the inner
room (dinqa in Glla, ilfin in Amharic). Here is the bride and round her, all her
friends. They feign again to resist the husband; the two parties, the bride’s
and the husband’s, assail each other by throwing egg shells. Then the bride’s
dearest girl friend pulls the ears of the husband and leads him by the hand to
his palce by the bride. As soon as the husband has sat down, the songs
expressing pain at the bride’s departure begin again. In the meantime, the boys
of the village come to the door of the hut, demanding to enter and see the
feast. They sing:
ya sodda obob soriessi sodda na dabarsi
soddakie nan arga
dinqakie nan barba
mana bba ntala 5
mana bba gurba
golfan asiente 10
1 O father-in-law, my lord, O rich father-in-law, let me pass!
2 I will see your son-in-law,
3 I will pass into your inner room!
4 In the house of my father,
5 in the house of the girl’s father,
6 may sheep enter
7 and empty the baskets!
7 In the house of my father,
8 in the house of the young man’s father,
8 may fever enter,
9 may all perish!
Here are some examples of the songs of the bride’s friends after the entrance of
the husband into inner room.
muku galgala 5
ka i ganama
1 O beautiful girl,
2 the obstacle at the door
3 has not been placed for me;
4 it has been placed for you!
5 Slumber in the evening,
6 rise in the morning!
7 He does not love me;
8 he loves you!
durbie ya riako
wan it nan si damu
amban galfaddu 5
wan it nan si dmau
mana narsini 10
1 O girl, O my friend,
2 these things I recommend to you:
3 to take away the dust (from him);
4 to break the bread (for him);
5 to help (him) at the talbe.
6 These things I recommend to you:
7 to stay out of the court-yard;
8 the spear at the door;
9 not to laugh with the sister-in-law.
10 Do not perfume (your body) in the house;
11 (otherwise) you will be a coquette.
12 Do not leave off (the dressing of) your hari;
13 (otherwise) you will be a coarse woman.
Notes. Her friends advise the bride to do three things (v. 1-5): to brush her
husband’s clothes, to prepare his bread, and serve his dinner. Then they advise
the girl not to do three other things: to go out of the house to gossip (v. 7);
to permit or to invite strangers to enter the house when her husband is not
there (v. 8), (What a Galla enters another’s house, he leaves his spear at the
door); or to discourse too freely with her sister-in-law, who is, even among the
Glla, the natural enemy of the bride. Verse 10 alludes to the perfumes used by
the women of Abyssinia.
The morning after the wedding, the bride, together with the husband, depart for
her new house. The band is preceded by the cattle which the father-in-law gives
to his daughter as a dowry, even as the bride-price had preceded the train of
the husband’s friends (see song 118, introduction).
gogsinna gedetan (G.S.B.: gogsinna)
gogsi ya aduko
sunkurta ballan kienee
obsinna gedetan (G.S.B.: obsinna)
obsi ya garako
gurgurtan gala giessee
hodi ya mutako
ribu qaba 10
obsi ya garako
si duga qaba
gugubanne ma tienee
1 “Let us dry up!” they say.
2 Drying up has been impossible.
3 Dry up, O my sun!
4 The onioins have hidden their leaves!
5 “Have patience!” they say.
6 Patience has been impossible.
7 Have patience, O my heart!
8 The sold girls has been led down!
9 Stitch on my bodkin,
10 you have the rope!
11 Have patience, O my heart,
12 you who have the right!
13 We have been assembled; why have we stopped?
Notes. As the sun cannot dry up the leaves of the onion, which are already
shrunk, so it is impossible for the bride’s relatives to console themselves
after the departure of the girl they love (v. 1-8). “Sold Girl” (v. 8), means
she has been married to her lover after the payment of the bride-price. The last
verse alludes to the stopping of the train at a fixed point on the road, where
the bride’s relatives and friends take their leave from the husband’s relatives
and friends, and return to their homes.
callali callie naggadie qaba
qannani qarrie mandaye qaba
qarrien gadisieda (Loransiyos: qarrien gad diseda)
amma gabite bosa 5
gargar nu basuf hora
1 The most beautiful necklaces of jet, the merchant has them.
2 The most beloved girl, this house has her.
3 O girl, O my shadow,
4 the tonsure is shadow (Loransiyos: the tonsure has been left off (by you)).
5 Then you will weep.
6 The stranger is a stupid (man);
7 the angry (man) is a fool.
8 We will separate from each other at the salt springs.
Notes. Verse 4, according to the version of Loransiyos, alludes to the ceremony
of the qarre mura (see song 118).
V. Cradle Songs
si mbinne ya si mbinne
sani mora si mbinne
collien golla si mbinne
gara tole si bitte
gara tole ha tolu 5
Waqa kienne ha kiennu
anani bosu dugi
qaben qammand nqabu
qorase si naqera
hirriba bosu rafi 10
itillen huba nqabu
hatae si afera
mucako maltu dane
qannani dane male
kora bosise male 15
kora bou lakkisi
tinnayo nama quba
urga dama qumbitti
mi a dama sogiddatti 20
1 I have not bought for you. O you for whom I have not bought,
2 I have not bought the cow of the enclosure fo ryou;
3 I have not bought the steed of the stable for you;
4 I have not bought for you that which your heart desires.
5 Let him present that which his heart desires!
6 Let him give what God has given!
7 Drink the milk when crying !
8 I have taken it; there is no straw in the milk.
9 I have smoked it and have kept it for you!
10 Lie down, cry, and sleep!
11 The bed has no straw.
12 I have swept and spread it down.
13 O my boy, what has beaten you?
14 The great love has beaten you;
15 pride has made you cry.
16 Cease crying because of pride!
17 do not cease your great love!
18 O my little, little finger of a man,
19 who exhales the perfume of myrrh,
20 who posesses the softness of salt!
ururu ya muccako
muccako ya tinmayoko
hati muca simbira
aboro kate wacci
bari kate dubbati 5
hada muca na godi
aboro na damaqsi
warra gudda na godi
wari natti dieresi
hati guddayo nqabne
baddu barbada nqabdu
dutu wala nqabdu
hati guddayo qabdu
baddu barbada ndabdu
dutu awala ndabdu 15
guddayo maltu dane
qannant dane male
kora boisise male
kora bou lakkisi
qannan a ilma luba
kora ilma qandala
adamo kiesa robe
somayo gagalise 25
elma kiesa robe
gadi lummuttu dae
kiennatu nama kienna
waqtu nama guddisa 30
kiennan galata miti
ya kienna and kienni 35
ya waq ana guddisi
soi yabalo galma
abote bisan galma
diedesu mucca galma
agesa facca galma 40
abote alga qamu
Dinagre garsa nsene
soi walga Bierama
guddo guduru riera
guddo qoma gorora 45
kal icco bietieleida
muddin sonsa goromsa
tiksitu ule riera
elemtu gadi riera 50
qabdu okkote riera
diedesu muca riera
intala bonnu gatu
bonni gienan nan gate
gannan gienan nan gabe (G.S.B.: gatan)
gatansie muka gala
kadansie karra dura
kura base si mbinne
gara tole si bite
garan tole malimma 60
sani kan Abba Bone
sani kan Dadi Golge
ga bae dargu gose
goale okkole gose 65
sani kan Abba Egu
sani kan Guma Sambo
ga bae dargu gose
gale okkole gose
sani kan Abba Dago 70
sani kan Tullu Guddo
ga bae dargu gose
gale okkole gose
The Cradle Song of the Little Boy
1 Sleep, sleep, O my boy!
2 my boy, O my little (one)!
3 The boy’s mother is a bird;
4 at morning she rises chirping;
5 at day-break she rises chattering!
6 O boy’s mother give me this pleasure:
7 tomorrow, awkae me!
8 O great tribe, give me this pleasure:
9 prolong for me the night!
10 A mother who has not a little son,
11 if she is lost, there is no one who seeks her,
12 if she dies, there is no one who buries her!
13 The mother who has a little son,
14 if she is lost, there is one who seeks her,
15 if she dies, there is one who buries her!
16 O my little son, what has beaten you?
17 Greater love has beaten you;
18 pride has made you cry.
19 Cease crying because of pride!
20 Do not cease your great qondata!
23 In the country it has rained;
24 the meal has been struck and dampened:
25 the canes have been bent.
26 During the milking it has rained;
27 the ropes have been struck and dampened;
28 the pot of osier has been bent.
29 O giver who gives to the people!
30 O God, make men grow!
31 Giving (a son) is not (a reason for) thanksgiving;
32 his growing up is (a reason for) thanks.
33 My thanks to you will never be ended;
34 your presents will never be forgotten!
35 O giver, give to me!
36 O God, make him grow for me!
37 The guardian of the sacred enclosure, the galma!
38 The pot with the water for the galma!
39 The mother with the boy for the galma!
40 The hunter with the spoils for the galma!
41 The pot is on a bed of qamu grass.
42 Do not think that Dingarie is an old man!
43 The guardians of the sacred enclosures, their meeting is in Bierama.
44 The little son with his head dress! Sleep, sleep!
45 My little man slobbers over his breast;
46 the skin clothes are short;
47 the groin is dirty;
48 the waist is like (the waist) of a young wasp.
49 The shipherd with the stick!
50 He who millks with the ropes! Sleep, sleep!
51 He who takes the milk with the pot! Sleep, Sleep!
52 The girl whom I abandoned,
55 whent he winter has come, I ahve wept for her!
56 She had abandoned her udner the tree;
57 she now prays for her before the enclosure!
58 I have not bought for you that which has gone out of the enclosure!
59 I have bought for you what your heart desires!
60 What is it that the heart desires?
61What is (…)?
62 The cows of Abba Bone,
63 the cows of Dadi Golge,
64 they have gone out and made the grass crack;
65 they have entered again and made the pot crack.
66 The cows of Abba Egu,
67 the cows of Guma Sambo,
68 they have gone out and made the grass crack,
69 they have come in again and made the pot crack.
70 The cows of Abba Dago,
71 the cows of Tullu Guddo,
72 they have gone out and made the grass crack,
73 they have come in again and made the pot crack.
Notes. As to verses 21-22, see Prose, texts 4, 5. The Galla bind their cows
before milking them (see song 33, notes). Verses 37-43 allude to the galma. The
galma is a Galla religious ceremony which is performed as follows: in each Galla
tribe, there is an enclosure expressly constructed which is guarded by an elder
of the tribe, called (according to Loransiyos) soi yabalo. The tribe goes there
in days of calamity to offer prayers to God, which are followed by sacrifices.
Those who celebrate the galma, which continues usually for four days, are
obliged to eat all the meat of the victims. Thus they feast in the sacred
enclosure. This is the rite of galma gabaro (see song 141). On the contrary,
some foods, e.g. the bread of dagussa (eleusine tokosso), and the beer of
dagussa are forbidden during the galma, according to the rite of the galma
Bierama (v. 43) is a village between Gimma Abba Gifar, Limmu, and the Nonno,
where every year there is a great market of spices (ginger and coriander), and
coffee; after this market they celebrate solemnly within the glama, a wadaga
(see song 135). Another village, called Bierama, is in the Galla Azabo’s
territory. Verses 53-57 allude to the barbarous custom, today almost extinct
among all the Galla tribes, of abandoning the daughters whom the father
considered superfluous. The rejected baby was called gata, “thrown away.” She
was usually adopted by another family; otherwise she was given over to the slave
merchants. The abandoning of daughters was permitted by the law of custom for
forty days after birth and again on the second birthday of the baby. I cannot
vouch that the translation which Loransiyos has given me of verse 42 is exact.
Dingarie, accordingoot Loransiyos, was “probably” a sorcerer or the guardian of
a sacred enclosure in Limmu. Warra Bayu is a clan of the Lieqa Naqamte tribe,
another clan of the Warra Himano, and a tribe in Shoa. Its meaning, “large
tribe,” makes it a very general name for Galla clans and tribes. Qamu (v. 41) is
a plant, the stem of which is like sorghum; its roots are sweet like sugar, and
are chewed by the Galla. 73
VI. Festive and Religious Songs
The greatest holiday of the Galla pagans is the feast of Atete, the goddess of
fecundity. (As to the name Atete, cf. the Amharic word Atet “fortune,”
“wealth”). Atete is much venerated by the Galla tribes and even the Mussulmen
celebrate the holiday. She is called in the songs ayo, “the mother,” often with
the diminutive ayolie, “the little mother,” and also (which may seem, perhaps,
spraange to those who are unfamiliar witht he Galla) Maryam or Maram, i.e.
“Mary.” Here we see the usual mixture of Chritianity and paganism; perhaps it
has been occasioned by a pagan assimilation fo the surival of the worship of the
Virgin Mary in the countries conquered by the Galla. It is interesting that the
Holy Virgin should have become the goddess of fecundity. The Galla also
celebrate the holday of the Cross, and many localities recognize the feast of
the Abbo, that is Saint Gara Manfas Qeddus.
The feast of Atete usually begins with the galma of four days’ duration (see
song 126). On the last day, the abba galma, chief of the meeting, sits down
before two great leather bags, one of which is filled with hydromel, the other
with beer. On the bags there is placed a rod of abbasuda. During the days of the
galma, the women sing songs asking the goddess to grant them fecundity and
lamenting the woes which are caused by sterility.
Atetiyo waggatu gau gae
waggan gienan wal gienee
hare wamnan hari nole
gaiesa ya Maram
ililen waqi akka 5
ililcen waqin kada
gaba sqqatu faqi ano saggadu waqi
1 O Atete, the time has come;
2 since the time has come, we have met;
3 since we have caleld everyone, everyone has passed the day.
4 Hear us, O Maram!
5 A cry to Heaven,
6 a cry will invoke God!
7 It is the tanner who hawks in the market.
8 It is God whom I adore!
Notes. The hawker is considered ignoble by the Galla and the Somali; therefore
all the Galla hawkers are born in low castes.
lome quoran karra
yomirre wal agarra
bor guya fan ware
lone wal agarra
garbu kabala tokko 5
kan masientitti nhorte
kan diese lakkawate
diesun akkana ngette
muccako nargin gette 10
gollako ndarbi gette
gabbise golla miti
muccase dora miti
ya dabdu and natu
ulfofte guma nnanne 15
diese gumata ndugne
daga kakata guttu rarietu wal baccise
dabdun dau ngibne
Maramtu wal calcise 20
ya kiesu wallu kobe
ayanni boro gomfe
ya dabdu wallu moso
ayanni boro sokke
ya dabdu maso dirsa 25
dirsattu sotton hawe
ya diesu masanu dirsa
dirsattu daan hawe
ya sare egie dabbasa
kan qufe wagqin darbata 30
kan Maram nama gottu
hattofi nama ngottu
sibilla muta gute
kan diga mucca gote
baddan qullubi nqabu 35
mure laga dabata
kan kie dukkubi nqabu
turte nama yadata
ararfane ya Maram
sirra dienee 40
ga geden tafi hama
ol geden waqin wama
1 The wood of the enclosure is fragrant.
2 When shall we meet?
3 Tomorrow at midday,
4 by stealth we shall meet!
5 A handful of barley
6 the concubine has toasted.
7 That which the sterile woman has hoarded,
8 the fertile woman has gained!
9 The fertile woman has said:
10 “Do not enter my enclosure!” she has said.
1 “Do not look at my sons!” she has said.
12 Her calves are not an enclosure (which may not be passed);
13 her sons are not the werewolf (which may not be seen)!
14 O she who has no (sons), woe to her!
15 (Like) the pregnant, she does not eat fruits;
16 (like) the confined woman, she does not drink the relatives’ gifts.
17 The stones and the pebbles are abundant,
18 the dirt is heaped.
19 The sterile woman has not hated child-birth;
20 Maram has been against her!
21 O she who has (sons), beautiful clothes;
22 the beneficent genius has adorned her room!
23 She who has no (sons), dirty clothes;
24 the beneficent genius has flown away from her room!
25 She who has no (sons), (even if) most dear to her husband,
26 the busband looks for a whip (to hit her).
27 She who has (sons), (even if she is the) second wife of the husband,
28 the husband looks forward to the confinement.
29 O dog with a shaggy tail!
30 He who is satiated, hurls spears to the sky!
31 Maram creates the man;
32 the mother alone does not create the man.
33 The iron for nails is abundant.
34 You have made the boy with blood.
35 The plateau does not produce onions;
36 one cuts them and plants them by the river.
37 You, O Atete, do not produce despair;
38 after a short time, you have compassion on the people.
39 By praying, O Maram,
40 we have obtained (grace) from you.
41 One bows to reap the tief;
42 one rises up to pray to God.
Notes. The song begins by inviting the women to go into the enclosure of the
galma. Verse 4 is important because it confirms what had been vaguely mentioned
by some travelers concerning the secret character of the feast of Atete,
reserved only for the women. Verses 7-8 mean, as may easily be understood, “the
sons of the fertile wife will be heirs to the wealth of the sterile wife of the
same man.” Verse 15 refers probably to the gifts which must be presented during
the pregnancy; verse 16 alludes to the Galla custom that the husband’s relatives
must give to the confined wife special presents called gumata. These presents
usually are pots of milk and hydromel; therefore, the words, “drinks the
relatives’ presents.” Verses 41-42, which are found in many Galla religious
songs, indicate the Galla custom of rising up to pray; this custom distinguishes
the pagan religious ceremonies from the Christian and Moslem ceremonies, the
genuflections of which are scoffed at by the pagans.
hati lma tokko nkortu
saggada rabbi noltu
anaf naggaro kienni 5
budaf qabaro kienni
masiena maso dirsa
masina folin boka
galgala bultin maga
ya bbako ya bba uma 10
kan diga muca gotu
ya yoko ya yo umtu
kan hika duga gotu
masiena dirsi ngibbu
ittillie urgiesitti 15
garbu kabala guttu
gabbi masieni kiesse
gumbi masieni kiesse 20
1 O my Lord, be merciful!
2 Mercy is good!
3 The mother of an only son
4 does not fail to adore God.
5 Give me your grace;
6 give the jackal to the werewolf!
7 The sterile woman most dear to her husband,
8 the sterile woman, perfume of hydromel;
9 to pass the night with her is bad.
10 O my father, O father creator,
11 make the boy with blood!
12 O my mother, mother creator,
13 give us a safe delivery!
14 The sterile woman does not hate her husband;
15 she perfumes the bed
16 (but) she weakens the relationship.
17 A handful of barley
18 the concubine has toasted.
19 The calves which the sterile woman has kept,
20 the bags of corn which the sterile woman has planted (in the ground),
21 the pregnant woman has gained them!
Notes. The song repeats the usual invocations already made in the preceding
song. Loransiyos thinks that this song was composed by Mussulmen; in fact, God
is called Rabbi. The Mussulmen of the Galla countries celebrate the feast of
Atete, another proof of the strange religious tolerance of the Galla who have
been converted to Christianity and to Islam only superficially, and still retain
their pagan religious conceptions.
illamon killieda gette
ilman daborada gette
dirsan diekkamada gette
illamon killeyu miti 5
hidanan qani dae
tolfanan martu tolce
ilmon daborayu miti
daboran maqasi tolce
dirso diekkamayu miti 10
diekkaman girusi tolce
ya wule ya bbasudae
yo ngiref nama suqa yo giruf nama muta
1 The girl is foolish!
2 She has said, “The plates are porringers!”
3 She has said, “The sons are cowards!”
4 She has said, “The husband is violent!”
5 The plates are not porringers;
6 by force or voluntarily she has brought forth;
7 in dressing, she has dressed her tresses.
8 The sons are not cowards;
9 and (even) the coward makes good the name of her (i.e. of the mother).
10 The husband is not angry;
11 and (even) the violent makes good the conduct of her (i.e. of the bride).
12 O rod of abbasuda!
13 While it (the rod) lasted, it was suspended for the people;
14 to cause it to last, one makes it pointed.
Notes. The song derides girls who do not desire to be married, fearing to have
cowardly sons, or an angry husband. The minstrel says ironicallly (v. 8-11) “the
cowardly son, as he does not go to war, remains in the house and helps his
mother to clean and adorn the rooms; and the violent husband improves his bride,
even if he has to use force. Verse 2 means: This girl mistakes things absolutely
different, as earthen-ware plates for wooden porringers; likewise, she mistakes
marriage and its real advantages for the dangers which result only in a few
cases. The translation of the word qani which, according to Loransiyos, means
“voluntarily,” “spontaneously,” appears to me uncertain; Loransiyos hesitated in
translating it. The last verses of the song (v. 12-14) allude to the custom
that, after the ceremony, the rod of abbasuda (see song 127, introduction) is
kept till a new ceremony (see song 134).
gabanni giesa duma
bari nanniesa duma
mana bban kabe kabu 5
watt unda kaba miti
kan garan naef nau
watt unda naa miti
1 The coffee-pot does not boil.
2 The time has just arrived (lit., its arrival finishes).
3 The year accomplishes its cycle.
4 On the day (fit for the holdiay), they have been dispersed.
5 The house which its owner has covered with grass, is covered,
6 but all houses are not covered with grass!
7 He whose heart is moved, is moved,
8 but all are not moved.
Notes. The song rails at those Christians or Mussulmen who do not celebrate the
feast of Atete. The first verse forms a sound-parallelism with the second.
dubbin waqayo furdae
daban miediccan gale
dabdun datidan galte
qaba gette nkorni
dabe gette nboini 5
ya dabdu and natu
angosi afan fiate
ulfofte guma nnane
diese gumata ndugne
arierte mbusiesine 10
tolcite caba mabafne
diesu nakaro dirsa
masiena maso dirsa
ya nama moye tolcu
acckani ta e tolcu 15
ya ist ilmon nqabne
akkasin tiese coptu
ya isi ilma diesse
handura fona tiesse
gomosi gara giesse 20
ya isi durba diesse
handura dinqa tiesse
wandabbo lafan giesse
dawana gilban giesse
handura dinqa tiesse 25
alaga gara giesse
qomoi gara nate
muccankie natt urgoftee
ya isu kaliessa nafa 30
edda wa fate latae
kan Marami kiessee
gea diesse kiennie
guaracci wallu ntolu 35
guracci waq sif ha nau
sambata abbon dubbisa
Atete ayon dubbisa
gag geden midan bubbisa
ol geden waqin dubbisa 40
1 The word of God is providence (literally, is fertile).
2 she who has no (children) obtains the miedicca;
3 She who has no (children) receives the umbrella.
4 Do not be proud (then) if you have (children).
5 Do not weep if you have none.
6 O the woman who has none, poor thing!
7 The bed destroys her strength!
8 Pregnant she will not eat fruit;
9 in confinement she will not drink the gifts of childbed;
10 having made the ariera, she will not make use of it;
11 having made bread, she will not make loaves of it.
12 The fruitful wife, the love of her husband!
13 The sterile wife, torture of her husband!
14 O the people who make mortars!
15 Thus do they make them? (literally, standing thus do they make them?)
16 O she who has no children!
17 Thus is she weeping?
18 O she who has brought forth a male child!
19 She has placed the firstborn (literally, the navel) in the enclosure.
20 She has made her family happy.
21 O she who has brought forth a daughter!
22 She has placed the firstborn (daughter) in the nuptial house;
23 she has pushed the garment to the earth;
24 she has pushed the bells to the knees.
25 She has placed the first-born (daughter) in the nuptial house;
26 she has made strangers happy;
27 she has saddened her family.
28 O fruitful one, O my perfume!
29 I smell the perfume of thy children.
30 O fruitful one, yesterday thou wert suffering (on account of the pains of
31 Thou who didst suffer yesterday,
32 this evening perhaps thou wilt fall asleep.
33 What you kept for Maram,
34 now that you are delivered, give it to her!
35 The black dress is not beautiful;
36 may the black heaven give thee gifts!
37 Sing the festival of Abbo!
38 Sing for Mother Atete!
39 Bending, sift the wheat!
40 Standing upright, pray to God!
Notes. The song begins by saying: the providence of God brings it about that
the one who has no children has other consolations, e.g. riches (v. 1-5). The
miedicca (v. 2) is a bracelet of goatskin which may be worn only by those Galla
who have a certain number of heads of cattle; the umbrella (v. 3) is another
sign of wealth because in Abyssinia only great chiefs or great ladies can have
one. Verses 6-17 bewail the lot of the sterile woman who will not have the gifts
of childbirth, gumata (see song 128, notes); who will not prepare ariera or
loaves of bread, because she has no children for whose nourishment she must
plan. Ariera is a drink made of the whey of milk mixed with water, much used
among the Galla. Verses 14-15 serve to form a parallel in sound and sense with
verses 16-17. Then the song bewealis also the lot of one who bears female
children, destined to be married and therefore to go out from the paternal house
to “make strangers happy” (v. 18-27). The Galla call “navel,” handura, the
firstborn. The song ends by inviting the fruitful woman, who with the aid of
Atete has avoided the two misfortunes above-mentioned, to come to the festival
(v. 28-40). As to verse 37, observe that the Galla call the sky “black”; they
have no word to indicate the color blue. On the other hand, “black” by metonymy
is equivalent to “sky.” Verse 38 would make one think that with these ceremonies
to Atete there are also mixed celebrations to Abuna Gara Manfas Qeddus, the
well-known Abyssinian saint.
arari ya arbi
arbin arba gese
arari ya arbi
arbi mana yole 5
arari ya arbi
mana yole lama
Maram gede mbieku
yo daddabe mbieku
arari ya arbi 10
imananko rabbi, Mayame
ya yole ya dako, Maryame
ol utale tani, Mayame
muka rrati dae, Maryame
suma yade tani, Maryame 15
afarati ta e, Maryame
kara gubba nfiga, Maryame
yadan muca dima, Maryame
hola Dingie Bofo, Maryame 20
kudani nan bite, Maryame
ayo gurba dulu, Maryame
ayo gurba gesu, Mayame
kotte farda dima, Maryame 25
qotte bolla futa, Maryame
ayana bba Gurra, Maryame
Maram Giggo Gae, Maryame
arar, Maymae 30
ya hola bisolle, Maryame
galalakie nole, Mayame
waqo Gosu Garba, Maryame
waqarre nu kaddu, Maryame
arar, Maryame 35
bodin saddietama, Maryame
Maryamif an galce, Maryame
loko farda dima, Maryame
qosan galma ngiru, Mayame 40
figa Giggon Bacco, Maryame
sambata bba Korma, Maryame
Abbukko goromsa, Maryame
yo ayana nfaga, Maryame 45
yo magganna nlaga, Maryame
kankie gudda rabbi, Maryame
ya nuro nurie, Maryame
digas mucca gole, Maryame 50
kan kiessa garada, Maryame
Maramtu ergate, Maryame
erga waqa gudda, Maryame
Maramtu adiema 55
nu arar ya yolie, Maryame
galatakietu sa, Maryame
sasi nurra qabde, Maryame
gabbari Waqayo, Maryame 60
Maramif arbida, Maryame
ilman Haggi Musa, Maryame
Medina ncalcisu, Maryame
Medina duttuda, Maryame 65
magganna buttuda, Maryame
gadulliesi nnadu, Maryame
Maram gifti guddo, maryame
ya gifti ya bieto, Maryame 60
manakie ttam bule, Maryame
balbaldatti kufe, Maryame
boro ttam abiema, Maryame
arar, Maryame 75
Maram hada dima, Maryame
tomborie handura, Maryame
kaliessasa nole, Maryame
diengaddasa nole, Maryame
agabuko du e, Maryame 80
utun si kadaddu, Maryame
namni Maryam kade, Maryame
oggurratti nargu, Maryame
ebon inwaranu, Maryame 85
bakakkan indau, Maryame
arar, ya gifti
gifti garti dulo, Maryame
gifti garsa gutu, Maryame
arar, Maryame 90
Maryame, ya yolie, Maryame
arbawon takalta, Maryame
nienca si ngadita, Maryame
moti si nagefta, Maryame
hiyessasi nbadafta, Maryame 95
namni gadi gede, Maryame
dangalase buu, Maryame
nu hundum ol gennan, Maryame
Maryani nkadanna, Maryame 100
arar ya yole
arar, ya gifti
1 Be propitious, O Friday!
2 It has rained in my house.
3 Friday has slain the elephants.
4 Be propitious, O Friday!
5 Friday, house of the little mother;
6 be propitious, O Friday!
7 There are two houses of the little mother.
8 Mary is never prayed to
9 unless one is in trouble.
10 Be propitious, O Friday!
11 My faith is in God, O Mary!
12 O little mother, O my mother, O Mary!
13 I have leaped up, O Mary!
14 I have struck (with my head) the wood of the shelf, O Mary,
15 because I was thinking of thee, O Mary,
16 after having stretched myself out on my bed, O Mary!
17 I run upon the road, O Mary,
18 because I am thinking of the red maiden, O Mary!
19 Be propitious, O Mary!
20 Sheep for Dingie Bofo, O Mary!
21 I have bought ten, O Mary!
22 Mother of the young warrior, O Mary,
23 Mother of the valliant youth, O Mary,
24 be propitious, O Mary!
25 Hoofs of a red horse, O Mary!
26 Thou diggest and causest to rise from the tomb, O Mary!
27 Be propitious, O Mary!
28 O beneficent genius of Abba Gurra, O Mary,
29 Mary of Giggo Gabata, O Mary,
30 be propitious, O Mary!
31 O sheep with the black wool, O Mary!
32 Thy love is lacking to none, O Mary!
33 O God of Gosu Garba, O Mary!
34 We will pray to God, O Mary!
35 Be propitious, O Mary!
36 Thirty pieces of salt, O Mary,
37 to Mary I have made as an offering, O Mary!
38 Be propitious, O Mary!
39 O headstall of a red horse, O Mary!
40 Jests are not suitable in the galma, O Mary!
41 Hasten to Giggo Bacco, O Mary!
42 Sunday belongs to Abba Korma, O Mary!
43 A cow to Abbukko, O Mary!
44 Be propitious, O Mary!
45 If thou art a beneficent spirit, descend, O Mary!
46 If thou art an evil spirit, go to the river, O Mary!
47 Be propitious, O Mary!
48 The powerful Lord is yours, O Mary!
49 O trophy, O trophy!O Mary!
50 Thou hast made the child of blood, O Mary!
51 Be propitious, O Mary!
52 What is within the womb, O Mary,
53 Mary has sent it, O Mary,
54 from the great heaven, O Mary!
56 Be proitious, O Mary!
57 Be propitious to us, O little mother, O Mary!
58 Behold thy thanks, O Mary!
59 Thou hast placed thy veil upon us, O Mary!
60 Pay the tribute to God, O Mary!
61 Friday is Mary’s, O Mary!
62 Be propitious, O Mary!
63 The children of Haggi Musa, O Mary,
64 prefer Medina, O Mary!
65 Medina is angry, O Mary;
66 she brings bad fortune, O Mary!
67 Be propitious, O Mary!
68 The black ants do not speak, O Mary!
69 Mary, great lady, O Mary!
70 O lady, pity, O Mary!
71 How has thy house passed the night, O Mary?
72 Be propitious, O Mary!
73 I have fallen at the door, O Mary!
74 How shall I be able to reach the rooms, O Mary?
75 Be propitious, O Mary!
76 Maram, the red mother, O Mary!
77 The negro of my heart (literally, of my navel), O Mary!
78 Yesterday again I passed the day (fasting), O Mary!
79 Day before yesterday again I passed the day (fasting), O Mary!
80 From fasting I am dead, O mary!
81 Be propitious, O Mary!
82 Thus I pray thee, O Mary!
83 He who prays to Mary, O Mary,
84 evil does not find, O Mary!
85 The lances do not smite him, O Mary!
86 The lightning does not strike him, O Mary!
86 Be propitious, O Lady!
88 O Lady of our decrepit old women, O Mary!
89 O Lady of our old men with the gutu hair, O Mary!
90 Be propitious, O Mary!
91 O Mary, O little mother, O Mary!
92 Thou bindest the elephants, O Mary!
93 Thou bindest the paws of lions, O Mary!
94 Thou killest the kings, O Mary!
95 Thou makest rich the poor, O Mary!
96 Be propitious, O Mary!
97 The man who stoops, O Mary,
98 gathers what he hs sown, O Mary!
99 We all gazing aloft, O Mary,
100 will pray to Mary, O Mary!
101 Be propitious, O Mary!
102 Be propitious, O little mother!
103 Be propitious, O Lady!
Notes. Loransiyos knows this song by heart, having learned it at a festival held
among the Lieqa Nagamte in honor of Atete (Loransiyos was at that time a
Mussulman and bore the name of Abdallah). The song begins with an invocation to
Friday (verses 1-6). The pagan Galla believed that every spirit had a day sacred
to him, on which he should be honored (see song 27); the day sacred to Atete was
Friday. Verse 3 is, as usual, introduced into the song in order to obtain the
play on words of arba, “elephant,” and arbi, “Friday.” Verse 7 seems to mean
that, beside Fridays, there is another day sacred to Atete, but Loransiyos
cannot explain it to me. Dingie Bofa (v. 20) was a magician of the Lieqa
Naqamte; Abba Gurra (verse 28) a magician of the Calliya Obo; Giggo Gabata
(verse 29) a magician of Shoa: Gosu Garba (verse 33) was also a magician; for
Giggo Bacco (v. 41), see Prose, texts 7, 8, 9, 10; Abba Korma (verse 42) was a
magician of Hindieba Gacci; for Abbukko (verse 43), see song 24, v. 113. Verse
46 alludes to the well-known Galla belief that the rivers are the eat of
malevolent spirits. In verse 49, the trophy which is alluded to is the nuri.
Verses 54-55 are noteworthy, giving as they do, the pagan Atete the Christian
name of Mary, and also attributing to her the power of intercession with God in
favor of mortals. Verse 59 also seems to me to have a trace of Christian ideas.
Verses 63-67 jeer at some uncompromising Mussulmen who do not take part in the
festival of Atete, preferring to prepare themselves for a pilgrimage. Verses
73-75 say that the help of Atete is necessary to a weak mortal, just as one who
has fallen on the threshold needs aid to enter the interior of the house. In
verses 78-80, the singer says he has performed a galma, fasting four days in
honor of Atete. Verses 94-98 are the paraphrase of Proverb 20 in this article.
Verse 77 calls Atete, “the negro of my heart.” Perhaps it is a sort of intimate
term of caress, or perhaps it alludes to the magic beliefs as to the color black
which are diffused among all peoples. Verses 25, 31, 39, 49, 68 are introduced
into the song in the usual way in order to obtain correspondence of sound with
the respective verses which follow.
Having finished the songs in honor of Atete, the Abba Galma rises to his feet
and says: —
farso farso sambata
farso kun kan smabata
sambanni na tiksu
sambanni nu tiksu
boka boka sambata
boka kun kan sambata
sambanni na tiksu
sambanni nu tiksu
1 The beer, the beer of the festival!
2 This beer belongs to the festival!
3 May the festival protect me!
4 May the festival protect us!
5 The hydromel, the hydromel of the festival!
6 This hydromel belongs to the festival!
7 May the festival protect me!
8 May the festival protect us!
Notes. Then the Abba Galma spits into the two vessels containing according to
song 127, beer and hydromel; then he takes the wand of abbasuda and hands it to
the head of the family or to the head of the tribe. In the festivals celebrated
by all the tribes, it is an elder of the tribe itself; in the festivals
celebrated by a single family, it is the head of the family itself, or an elder
invited for the occasion, if the head of the family is not luba, becasue a man
cannot be abba galma who has not been through the first two degrees of the
initiation (see Prose, text 4). The wand of abbasuda, until the next festival of
Atete, remains hanging from the celign of the house, and is regarded as a sacred
object. They give it a point and usually hang on it glass necklaces and amulets
(see song 130).
The true Galla prayer, which, according to the bliefs of the pagan Oromo, places
man in contact with the Divinity, is the wadaga. From the same Kushite root is
derived the Somali wadad, which once indicated the maagicians of paganism and
now is used to designate the Mussulman priests. Thus, in a special sense,
wadad-ki, the wadad, is the well-known Sayyid Muhammad ibn Abdallah, the “Mad
Mullah” of the English. The Galla wadaga usually consists of the sacrifice of a
sheep, preceded and followed by propitiatory songs. A tufa (blessing by means
of spitting) of beer or hydromel, followed by libations, may be substituted for
the sacrifice. The wadaga is directed, like the festivals of the galma, by the
father of the family, or by an invited elder. Here are some of the songs of the
malif mal dinqi?
wa gaa dinqi
hummo dukkuba male addu
hiddi sora male gabbatu 5
bisan officca male ya u
lafa disa male diriru
waqa utuba male dabatu
waqa utuba male dabatu
waqa sumbura samay facase
kanatu na dinqa 10
waqa nkadanna hunduma
waqni kan na olce
naga na bulci
naga nu bulci
biela kan dute 15
qufa kan gabbate
ya waq na olci
ya waq nu olci
(Head of the wadaga)
dubbi abba qabu
fute kenni 20
ya waq na olci
ya waq nu olci
(Head of the wadaga)
duga sobati na basi
ya waq na olci 25
ya waq nu olci
(Head of the wadaga):
1 O woner! O wonder!
2 What are the wonders?
(Head of the waddaga):
3 The wonders are six:
4 The hornbill complains without being sick;
5 the plant hiddi flourishes without nourishment;
6 the water runs without being urged;
7 the earth is fixed without pegs;
8 the heavens hold themselves up without supports;
9 in the firmament He (God) has sown the chick-peas of heaven.
10 These things fill me with wonder.
11 Let us all pray to God!
12 O God, who hast caused me to pass the day,
13 cause me to pass the night well!
14 Cause us to pass the night well!
(Head of the wadaga):
15 From the hungry one who grows angry,
16 from the satiated who grows proud,
17 O God, deliver me!
18 O God, deliver us!
(Head of the wadaga):
19 From the one who meddles with others’ affairs;
20 from (the one who says) “you took, and now give,”
21 Of God, deliver me!
22 O God, deliver us!
(Head of the wadaga):
23 From (the one who says), “thou sawest and now tell”:
24 from (the one who says) “bear false testimony for me!”
25 O God, deliver me!
26 O God, deliver us.
Notes. For the hornbill, see song 75. The hiddi (verse 5) is a little plant
which produces flowers similar to the lily; it grows in the form of thonry
clusters, even in arid places and during the dry season. In Amharic it is called
imbabo. The “chick-peas of heaven” (v. 9) are, as is clear, the stars. Verses
20-21 and 23-25 give the direct discourse in the Galla, where we should prefer
to say: “From my creditors, O God, deliver me” (v. 20-21) and “From being called
to bear witness, from being asked to bear false witness, O God, deliver me!” (v.
23-25). Being called to bear witness was in the small independent Galla kingdoms
no slight annoyoance. The king or the head of the tribe in cases in which it
suited him to condemn the accused, procured for himself the necessary witnesses
without too many scruples and silenced those witnesses opposed to him by any
means whatsoever. This especially was the case in trials instituted directly by
the king on some futile pretext but really with the sole intention of condemning
the innocent accused to slavery and selling them to the merchants.
kara waq darbe
en abban arge
ya qara ebo
waq gara bieko
sunsummi nfilu 5
yo file nbaqu
yo gie nadabu
ararfane yor argane
1 The ways by which God has passed,
2 who can ever see?
3 O edge of the lance!
4 God knows the mind (of men).
5 The head is not combed,
6 unless, after it has been combed, it is oiled.
7 I shall not weary of speaking,
10 if by growing weary, I shall not fail (to obtain).
11 We have prayed: when shall we ever find (favor)?
hhumba humba ya Waq
humba humba ya Waq
umte nu ngatini
humba humba ya Waq
dagatte nu nbusini 5
hymba humba ya Waq
ararfan yor argane
1 Humba! Humba! O God!
2 Humba, Humba, O God!
3 Thou hast created us, do not cast us away!
4 Humba, Humba, O God!
5 Thou hast shown us favor, do not abandon us!
6 Humba, Humba, O God!
8 We have prayed; when shall we ever find (favor)?
Notes. According to Loransiyos, humba is a word which has no meaning, used in
these invocations to Waqa because a magic force is attached to it.
igarte nu ndigin, ya Waq
kabae nu nbuqqisin, ya Waq
igga bou nu olci, ya Waq
gara nau nu olci, ya Waq
garar bau nu olci, ya Waq 5
na dabikka, ya Rabbi
akka muka, ya Rabbi
1 Thou hast raised us up, do not cast us down, O God!
2 Thou has covered us with grass, do not destroy us, O God!
3 Grom weeping the eyes, deliver us, O God!
4 From grief of heart, deliver us, O God!
5 From being separated from one another, deliver us, O God!
6 Plant us, O God,
7 like a tree, O God!
Notes. The first verses compare, metaphorically, man created and protected by
God with a hut built and covered with grass by the hand of man.
In the second volume of Cecchi’s account of his travels occur some phrases which
are in reality a little song of the wadaga. As the transcriptoin is very
incorrect, and the translation in many respects inexact, I introduce here the
song written and translated as Loransiyos, who knows it by heart, has corrected
garsa Waqayo dagdi
garti Waqayo dagdi
si gurra qabda
garsa Waqayo argi
garti Waqao argi 5
si igga qabda
garsa Waqayo fudi
garti Waqayo fudi
si harka qabda
farda gari yo gallatta fudi 10
niti gari yo gallatta fudi
garbicca gari yo gallata fwfi
1 O old God, listen!
2 O decrepit God, listen!
3 Thou who hast ears
4 O old God, look!
5 O decrepit God, look!
6 Thou who hast eyes,
7 O old God, take!
8 O decrepit Gold, take!
9 Thou who has hands,
10 if you lovest beautiful horses, take them!
11 If thou lovest beautiful women, take them!
12 If thou lovest beautiful slaves, take them!
13 Listen, O God!
14 O God, listen!
Notes. In verses 2, 5 and 8 the feminine garti, “old” is used in a disparaging
sense, which makes superlative the adjective garsa, “old”. Thus, for a decrepit
old man, in Amharic the feminine baltiet is used. The translation of Cecchi, 75
“old women who are near to God” is certainly erroneous.
In the paganism of the Galla, as in so many other primitive religions, there
exit special ceremonies for asking the divinity for rain. One of these
ceremonies is that of the raya, which is a solmen procession of women and
children who go in seasrch of a special grass, out of which they then weave
wreathes. It is a part of the ritual to eat a barley pudding before the
procession. On such an occasion, songs are sung invoking rain. Here are two of
essa si dibe
1 O grass kusurru of the Gibie!
2 O storm of Mandiyo!
3 Where art thou shut up?
4 Rain! Rain!
Notes. The kusurru is a kind of grass which grows on the banks of rivers, and
which the Galla use to cover their huts; Mandiyo (v. 2) is the diminutive of
Abba Mando, a camsitu (see song 7). Perhaps it is the same Abba Mando, magician
of the Sibu Ganti, referred to in song 50, who has held back the rain now
invoked by the singer.
robi lafa gai
lafe lafa fudu
garsa dinqa fudu
garti golla fudu 10
muca uka fudu
bokka gama Waddiessa
bokkae ba garbu 15
bokken ara ndarbu
1 O rain!
2 76 … Gabbaro!
3 It will make the old cow rise;
5 it will moisten the pots;
6 it will lengthen the bonds.
7 O rain, rain down!
8 Rain down, reach the earth!
9 It will take the bones away from the ground;
10 it will bring out the old man from the dinqa
11 it will bring forth the old woman from the room;
12 it will take the children from the arms (literally, from the armpits) (of
13 The rain of the other bank of the Waddiessa,
14 let the magician beat the drum (to obtain it).
15 77 … the Mussulman.
16 O rainy blessing of the barley!
17 The rain will not pass by today (without falling here).
18 O rain, rain down!
Notes. Verse 2 probably refers to a division of the Galla clans into borana
(sing. boranticca) and gabaro (sing. gabarticca). The sudden departure from
Naples of Loransiyos (see Prose, introduction) prevented my obtaining further
particulars as to this interesting point of the constitution of the Galla
bribes. Such a division into gabaro and borana is apparently adopted by the
Galla of all regions. The eastern Galla (the Borana in the geographical sense of
the word) are ignorant of it. Among the Lieqa on the other hand, it is in use.
It seems that, as among the Lieqa tribes, those of Billo have a position
inferior to the others (today not as to actual rights, but only in public
estimation) on account of less noble genealogical traditions, so within each
tribes there is a distinction made between the boranticca who boasts of his
origin from Babbo, the ancestor of the Lieqa, and the gabarticca who cannot
prove such an origin by means of genealogies. The gabaro do not go to Abba Muda,
but on the other hand they possess among the Lieqa equal rights with the borana.
D’Abbadie, 78 speaking of this distinction does not specify the Galla tribes
among whom he has observed these customs, and says that the gabaro claim to be
children of Adam (?) while they say that the borana are children of Satan; the
borana on the other hand say they are the children of Sapiera (the son of
Macca). It is probable that the gabaro are people of servile origin (either
Sidama subjugated by the Galla at the epoch of their recent invasion of Ethiopia
or slaves of the Kushite race afterwards liberated), who by degrees have
acquired a legal status almost equal to that of their former masters. One is led
to such an hypothesis by the name gabar-o itself, which seems to be an ancient
plural from the root gabar which probably has the same meaning as the Ethiopian
gabara, “to work,” whence gabr, “slave.” Such a root still exists today in Galla
in the word Garbicca, garbitti, masculine and feminine singular forms of the
less used garba, “slave.” A similar development as to legal status has been
attained by the Cawa, former military colonies of the Emperor of Ethiopia, made
up of corps of troops recruited among the Galla tribes and the frontier
populations, who afterwards acquired all the rights of their former chiefs, also
making legendary genealogies for themselves. 79 The Waddiessa (v. 13) is a river
of Limmu. The singer invokes rain, which will bring everyone out upon the
threshold of the hut to see it and rejoice, even the old men and children (v.
The greatest festival of the pagan Galla is that of the butta, called gara by
the Borana and the southern Galla. This festival is very important in connection
with the social life of the Galla, because it is the last ceremony of the second
as well as the third degree of initiation (see Prose, text 4); that is, it marks
the acquisition of the right to be present and take part in the deliberations of
the assembly of the tribe. Every gada (see Prose, text 4) after the second
period of initiation is called on to sacrifice an ox for the butta. The butta is
celebrated every eight years. Beside the sacrifice of the ox, at the butta the
account is given of the victories obtained by the warriors of the tribe in wars
and hunts, followed by the assignment of decorations (see song 15, notes). The
account is given by a widow chosen from the tribe; the assignment of decorations
is made by an elder of the tribe who puts in his hair for the occasion some
feathers of the little red bird called gucci (see song 68). The warrior whose
victims are to be reckoned up comes forward toward the elder and enumerates his
deeds one by one, prefacing every statement with the cry, “Sararara!” which has,
perhaps a magic force (see song 137). Here is one of these songs for the
reckoning up of victories recited during a butta celebrated by the Gullallie a
little after the victory over Ras Waldie Baseyum (see song 38).
abba gucci nan tumtu agese
naggadie soma oltu
fuqura mukarratti agese
kan si fakkatu wanni agese 5
abba gucci nan cano agese
holqa kiessa duftu
kan si fakkatu cano agese
abba gucci nan tadde agese
fabamtu akka kiettu
kan tobiedan farra
kan si fakkatu tadde agese
abba gucci nan ama gese 20
mukarratti kannisa fittu
kan si fakkatu ama gese
abba gucci nan bonga gese
kan akkakie gurra gurguddatu 25
kan si fakkatu bonga gese
abba gucci nan gafarsa gese
bude buda bosoqqa
kan gurri gurrakie fakkata
kan si fakkatu gafarsa gese
abba gucci qierransa gese
luttu hattu cakka
kan si fakkatu qieransa gese 35
abba gucci amakieta gese
gara gama utala
kan si fakkatu amakieta gese
sararara! … 40
abba gucci nan gicco agese
nama kudafuritti lakkamtu
abba gucci gicilla agese
abba gucci nienca gese 45
nienca gese agesu
kan na fakkatu nienca gese
abba gucci lafo agese
namica kalle nienca ufatu 50
kan na fakkatu lafo agese
abba gucci lafo agese
figa kalle qierransa
kan na fakkatu lafo agese 55
abba gucci abba farda gese
gota dowa debiyu
kan na fakkatu bba farda gese
sararara! … 60
abba gucci Arussi agese
tiksitu lon Arussi agese
kan na fakkatu Arussi agese
abba gucci Amara gese 65
Waldie agabu olce
karra cufan olce
abba gucci Amara Waldie agese
1 Sararara! …
2 O thou with the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a blacksmith,
3 a Mussulman who was keeping a fast.
4 I have killed a Mussulman missionary on the tree!
5 A monkey who looks like thee, I have killed!
7 O thou with the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a great baboon
8 who was emitting farts in his den!
9 A great baboon, who looks like you have I killed!
10 Sararara! …
11 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a porcupine,
12 wicked like thee,
13 who was injuring the budding plants!
14 A porcupine who resemble thee have I killed!
15 Sararara! …
16 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a wildcat,
17 theif of the young of the herd!
18 A wildcat that resumbles thee have I killed!
19 Sararara! …
20 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a wildcat
21 which destroys the bees on the trees!
22 A wildcat that rexembles thee have I killed!
23 Sararara! …
24 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed an antelope
25 who had ears longer than the ears of thy grandmother!
26 An antelope that resembles thee haave I killed!
27 Sararara! …
28 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a buffalo,
29 a full-grown buffalo with long horns,
30 who had ears like thy ears!
31 A buffalo that resembles thee have I killed!
32 Sararara! …
33 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a leopard,
34 the insidious robber of the forests!
35 A leopard that resembles thee have I killed!
36 Sararara! …
37 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a big leopard
38 that was leaping on that bank there!
39 A big leopard that resemblesw thee have I killed!
40 Sararara! …
41 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a panther
42 who is equal to fourteen men!
43 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, a panther have I killed!
44 Sararara! …
45 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a lion!
46 I have killed a lion and I shall kill more!
47 A lion that looks like me have I killed!
48 Sararara! …
49 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a footsoldier,
50 a warrior who wore a lion’s skin,
51 a footsoldier who resembled me have I killed!
52 Sararara! …
53 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a footsoldier,
54 a strong warrior who wore a leopard’s skin,
55 a footsoldier who resembles me have I killed!
56 Sararara! …
57 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed a horseman,
58 a valiant man, an obstacle that made people draw back,
59 a horseman who resembles me have I killed!
60 Sararara! …
61 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed some of the Arussi,
62 two shepherds of the Arussi herds,
63 some Arussi who resemble me have I killed!
64 Sararara! …
65 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, I have killed some Amara!
66 I have made Waldie spend the day fasting!
67 I have kept the fold closed!
68 O thou of the vulture’s feathers, the Amara of Waldie have I killed!
Notes. The slayer, as one sees, begins by boasting of the easiest victories and
by degrees enumerates the more difficult. He begins with the victories over
animals which are considered ignoble (monkeys, porcupines, wild cats, antelopes,
buffaloes, leopards), and after having mentioned the panther, an animal which
stands between the noble and ignoble prey, he passes to the lion and man. The
ignoble animals are compared to the elder who listens to the account, the noble
animals to the victorious warrior who recites the song.
In verses 1-5, the warrior relates his first victory over a monkey. The latter
is called ironically “the blacksmith” (see song 65), as, in the same way, it is
called “the Mussulman,” because the Galla say that monkeys go without eating for
several days (thence the usual comparison with the fast of the Mussulman), and
also, they utter cries only at certain hours of the day (thence the comparison
with the mueddin who calls believers to prayer at certain hoours). In verse 4 I
have translated the Galla fuqura by “Mussulman missionary”; that is, that kind
of Islamized magician who among the Galla reads the Koran, and also foretells
the future by the ancient rites, and make amulets. The Somali call these holy
In verses 15-18 and in verses 19-22, the hunter boasts of the killing of two
wild cats of different species, one called dugdu, literally “drinker,” and the
other ama. In verses 27-31, the hunter boasts of the killing of the buffalo,
which from very ancient times has been regarded as an ignoble animal by the
Galla 80 (see song 34). In verses 36-39, the hunter boasts of the killing of a
large species of leopard called in Galla amakieta, and in Amharic sidicca. It is
related that the amakieta is the one of the lesser felines most like the lion
because when the lioness, to test the strength of her nine children, made them
leap across the ditch, according to the wide-spread Galla fable, 81 the amakieta
succeeded in clinging with its claws a little below the opposite side of the
ditch and therefore only a little behind the lion. Verse 42 about the panther
alludes to the calculation tables of the spoils which are made use of in the
butta (see song 15, notes). Verses 64-68 sing of the slaying of the hostile
Amara. It is noteworthy that such slaying should be reckoned up at the end,
perhaps not so much because it is more glorious (it is to be remembered, on the
contrary, that among some Galla tribes the killing of Amara is not worthy of
being included in the butta, cf. song 34), but because it was the last
victorious undertaking of the tribe, and therefore the one most present in the
memory of the hearers. The festival of the butta is the most significant
ceremony of Galla paganism; thus the Chronicle of Guma (see Prose, text 1)
relates that Adam when he wished to convert Guma to Islam, first of all forbade
the butta. In like manner, the Emperor Meilek forbade the butta to the Galla
converted to Christianity, but a terrible drought having come upon them, this
misfortune was attributed to the abandonment of the ancient ceremonies, and
Menilek was obliged to revoke his prohibition.
The solemn oath of Galla paganism is a special and most interesting rite. Rather
than an oath, it should be called a “sworn renunciation,” because in it one does
not swear to do a thing, but not to do the opposite thing. Thus, Menilek in song
54, v. 24-26, swears that “they will not abstain from going among the Arussi,”
according to a negative formula; thus, the mother of Tufa Roba in song 15, v.
74, swears “not to take a husband,” and therefoe to consider all men forbidden
to her by oath. The oath is called by the Galla kaka or kaku; the Amara who
border on the Galla use to indicate such a Galla oath the word gizzit which
really is equivalent to excommunication. The thing or person who is the object
of the sworn renunciation by which one binds oneself not to do a certain act, is
also called kaku (in Amharic ya-tagazza). The oath is taken with the feet
resting on the skin of a wild boar, and, at the conclusion, a four-pronged fork
is hurled into the air. It is noteworthy to find the skin of the wild boar
(regarded from most ancient times as an unclean animal among the Semito-Hamites)
as a property of this ritual. This feature must certainly be very ancient. Here
is a stanza which is recited as the fork is hurled:
na darbi gede
qieko boyen a daltu
badi baddu bai 5
balbala san badi
1 “Hurl me,” has said
2 the murtutte of the oath.
3 Ho! ubayay!
4 May the wildboard inherit my house!
5 Perish! Destroy thyself!
6 O five doors, perish!
7 Ho ubayay!
Notes. The murtutte (v. 2) is a bush which provides the four-tined forks
necessary for the sacred promise. Ho! ubayay! (v. 3, 7 are magic syllables
without any lexical meaning. Perhaps the “five doors” (v. 6) have also a magic
sense which Loransiyos cannot explain to me.
The Galla celebrate with special solemnity the festival of the Cross. After
great bonfires (in Amharic damiera) preceded and followed by salutes of guns,
there takes place between the warriors the traditional tourney with lance and
shield (Amharic, gugs). The male cattle are crowned with flowers as sign of
rejoicing. The boys of the region, led by one who bears a flower in his hand, go
to the doors of the huts and sing:
yoko darar! ya babo darar!
kiena manni sirbe, ya babo darar!
barari harcase, ya babo darar!
masqal abba korma, ya babo darar!
ibsa korommida, ya babo darar! 5
ani kofti ngumi, ya babo darar!
Ligdi Baka gubbe, ya babo darar!
gubbi natti dame, ya babo darar!
ano kofto ngumni, ya babo darar!
Rorro Baka gubbe, ya babo darar! 10
buggi natti dame, ya babo darar!
abba warra sirbe, ya babo darar!
barari harcase, ya babo darar!
hindanqo badase, ya babo darar! 15
abba warra sirbe, ya babo drar!
faffato harcase, ya babo darar!
iggolle badase, ya babo darar!
darara ebicca, ya babo darar!
kannifni marsite, ya babo darar! 20
darara bisinga, ya babo darar!
simbiro marsite, ya baba darar!
darara maqala, ya babo darar!
iggolle marsite, ya babo darar!
25 Yoko darar! ya babo darar!
1 Come blossom! Blossom, O little flower!
2 Our family has sung: blossom, O little flower!
3 It has made the gnats fall; blossom, O little flower!
4 The Cross of the one rich in oxen; Blossom, O little Flower!
5 The light of the young bulls; blossom, O little flower!
6 Not I alone have made the fire; blossom, O little flower!
7 Ligdi Bakarie has made the fire; blossom, O little flower!
8 “Do thou make the fire, too!” he sent me to say; blossom, O little flower!
9 Not I alone have made the fire; blossom, O little flower!
10 Rorrisa Bakarie has made the fire; blossom, O little flower!
11 “Do thou, too, make the fire!” he has sent me to say; Blossom, O little
12 Let the borana make the fire; blossom, O Little flower!
13 The chief of the people has sung; blossom, O little flower!
17 He has had the soup set on the table; blossom, O little flower!
18 It has made the boys rejoice; blossom, O little flower!
19 The flowers of the verbena; blossom, O little flower!
20 The bees make a circle; blossom, O little flower!
21 The flowers of the sorghum; blossom, O little flower!
22 The birds make their circle; blossom, O little flower!
23 The flowers of the Cross; blossom, O little flower!
24 The boys make their circle; blossom, O little flower!
25 Come, blossom! O little flower, blossom!
Notes. Verses 2-3 and 13-15 jestingly say that the song has made the gnats which
were clinging to the ceiling fall, because it has so stirred the air of the hut.
In verses 6-12 the boys say that all are celebrating a festival for the Cross,
making the bonfires, referred to above; also the warriors like Ligdi, son of
Bakarie, and his brother Rorrisa; also the noble boranticca (see song 141,
notes); also the head of the tribe, who sings and by making the gnats fall feeds
Songs of the Caravans
When the caravans of the merchatns left the regions of the Gibie and by way of
the Gudru and of the Goggam went to the Red Sea, the caravaners used to sing
songs in praise of commerce along the way. Here are two of them:
sia bona yo kutto kasan male
sia ganna yo doqie ditan male
magalan odan male
dimtu boqoran male
diegni nama llakkisu 5
diega magganna korma
luqqiettu nama lita
lummie nama gallisa
mofa namatt uwisa
dofa nama tasisa 10
gecca garatt ambisa
nama diera gababsa
gaba baddu basa
hatti diese ngallattu
abban ume llellisu 15
a In summer they even make the dust rise;
2 in winter they even trample the mud!
3 If they talk with the dark maiden,
4 and smile upon the red maiden,
5 poverty will never leave them.
6 Poverty is a terrible disease;
7 it penetrates the sides,
8 it bends the vertebrae,
9 it dresses one in rags,
10 it makes people stupid;
11 it makes every desire remain in the breast;
12 those who are long, it shortens;
13 those that are short it destroys wholly.
14 Not even the mother that has borne (the poor man) loves him any longer!
15 Not even the father who has begotten him any longer esteems him!
Notes. The magganna of verse 6 is the Amharic magganna. 82 Magganna korma means
literally “the male of the disease,” “a terrible disease.”
sia rfasa yo awarra saqan male
sia ganna yo doqie ditan male
attamin diega bau
amma diegni hamada
nama diera gababsa 5
gababa baddu basata umsa dombi goda
uffana mofa goda
wamicca bode goda
niti nama diegada 10
wamicca male dagte
as ta i male galte
galte dirsase nkorte
akka wan dirsa dane
1 Even in the autumn season they walk on the dust!
2 Even in the winter season they trample the mud!
3 How can one escape from poverty?
4 For poverty is a misfortune.
5 Tall men it shortens;
6 short ones it destroys wholly.
7 Of the chairs it makes little stools;
8 of clothes it makes rags.
9 It sends away invitations.
10 The wife of the poor man
11 goes away without invitations.
12 Without “sit down here,” she returns to her house.
13 She goes home and quarrels with her husband,
14 as if he had beaten her!
oba dura duriessako
obase ban dura
tikse ban duriessa
tiksen barbadesse 5
oba lamu lamaccako
obe obe 10
1 The first watering, my first one!
2 I have had them drink the first watering,
3 I have led to pasture for the first watering.
4 I have had them drink, I have had them make muddy (the watering place).
5 I have led to pasture, I have had them eat (all the grass).
6 It has drunk! it has drunk!
7 The second watering, my second one!
8 I have had them drink, I have had them make muddy (the watering place).
9 I have led to pasture, I have had them eat (all the grass). It has drunk! it
Notes. The Galla take the cattle to water twice a day. Both the first and the
second waterings are preceded by grazing.
rafu irbe 5
ol geden si lala
mie liti lali
1 O ugly sun!
2 O my ugly one!
3 The ugly one has gone in.
4 He has cut the throats of the sheep,
5 he has supped on sprouts,
6 then he has danced.
7 The bed is of fragrant grass.
8 By raising (my glances) I see thee.
9 Come enter! look!
Notes. The shepherds sing this when they lead back the cattle to the fold at
adu kottu kottu
kara hora canco
diddibbisa kottu 5
1 O sun, come! come!
2 On the road of the rising salt pit of Canco,
3 beware of the thorns,
4 lean upon the staff!
5 Come singing!
Notes. The shepherds sing this when at dawn they lead the flock from the fold.
hurri ya hurri
aban farda dufe
bokku harka qaba
bokku sitti cabsa
qaraba rka qaba
gurra sitti murd
gara yabi ya hurri
garu yabi ya hurri
1 O mist! O mist!
2 The horseman has come.
3 He has a stick in his hands.
4 With the stick he will crush thee!
5 He has a knife in his hands.
7 he will cut off my ears!
7 Go up on the mountain, O mist!
8 Go up on the mountain, O mist!
Notes. A playful song of the shepherds in misty weather.
hurri ya hurri
abban farda dufe
bokku harka qaba
bokku sitti cabsa
qaraba rka qaba 5
gurra sitti mura
gara yabi ya hurri
gara yabi ya hurri
1 O mist! O mist!
2 The horseman has come.
3 He has a stick in his hands.
4 With the stick he will crush thee!
5 He has a knife in his hands;
6 he will cut off thy ears!
7 Go up on the mountain, O mist!
8 Go up on the mountain, O mist!
Notes. A playful song of the shepherds in misty weather.
aba farda collie
sombo gudda gala bai 5
bode dina dura bai
1 O master of the swift courser,
2 short, little,
3 thou eatest sprouts, gogito.
4 Thou wilt return a prisoner!
5 Come forth under the great sycamore!
6 Come forth before the lances of the enemies!
7 Come, gallop!
Notes. This is a song of contempt of the shepherds for the horsemen who gallop
passing near the flocks. Bogito (v. 3) is a green vegetable similar to the
sprouts, also a food of the poor.
17. Antonio Cecchi, Da Zeila alle frontiere del Caffa, Roma, 1886, vol. 2, pp.
18. The sense of the words du a coggo is not clear.
19. Cf. E. Cerulli, ‘L’Islam nei regni galla indipendenti,’ (L’Africa Italiana,
Napoli, 1916, vol. 35, p. 113-119. Some statements made in this article are
corrected and enlarged by the following songs.
20. According to the information which I have already gathered, the conversion
of the Guma kingdom occurred during the reign of Gawe Onco (son of Onco Gilca)
about 1854-60. Cf. Cerulli, ‘L’Islam nei regni Galla indipendenti,’ op. cit., p.
21. Owing to a misprint the date of this meeting in Goggi is 1886 in my account,
“la questione del Califfato in rapporto alle nostre colonie di directto
dominio,’ (Atti del Convegno Nazionale Coloniale, Napoli, 1916, p. 8).
22. Literally, “The belly of Onco Gawe.” The Galla, like the Amara, believe the
belly to be the seat of reasoning.
23. Cf. Guidi, ‘Strofe e piccoli testi Amarici,’ (Mitteilungen d. Seminars f.
Orientalis Sprachen zu Berlin, vol. 2, pt. 2, p. 17), and Cecchi, opo. cit.,
vol. 2, p. 541.
24. Jules Borelli, Ethiopie meridionale, Paris, 1890, p. 433.
25. Cf. Cecchi, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 540
26. Ibid., p. 497
27. Ibid., p. 490
28. Cf. Cerulli, ‘Canti popolari amarici,’ op. cit., p. 64
29. Antoine d’Abbadie, Dictionnaire de la langue Armarinna, Paris 1881, very
inaccurately translates gurda as “tres petite ceinture, souvent une corde et
portee sur la peau, ce mot oromo n’est usite que chez les Amara melanges avec
les Oroma. Ceux-ci attribuent au gurda l dignite d’une institution.” Cf. Ignazio
Guidi, Vocabolario amrarico-itliano, Roma, 1901, p. 729.
30. Leo Reinisch, Somli Worterbuch, Wien, 1902, sub voce gal.
31. Leo Reinisch, Die Kaffa Sprache in Nord Ost Africka, Wien, 1888, vol 1, p.
15, vol. 2, p. 79.
32. E. Cerulli, ‘Canti populari amarici, op. cit., p. 6061
33. P. Martial de Salviac, Les Galla, Paris, 1901, p. 183.
34. Ibid., p. 186
35. Philipp Paulitschke, Beitrage zur Ethnographie und Antropologie der Samol,
Galla und Harari, Leipzig, 1886, p. 56, syas, “Bei den Galla am Gara Mulata
(Gara Mullata, ‘hill manifesting itself’) under bei den Ennia (two Galla tribs
living near Hara) hiess der Moti (king) dori, d. i. “Furst des Landes”‘. Dor,
then, is used only in the Borana dialects, and is therefore unknown to
36. See Appendix, The Watta; a low caste of hunters, p. 200.
37. Guidi, p. cit.
38. Cf. Cecchi, op. cit. vol. 2, p. 157-160; Fra Guglielmo Massaja, I miei
trentacinque anni di missione nell’ alta Etiopia, Milano, 1885-88, vol. 5, p.
12-15; I. Guidi, ‘Stofe e piccoli testi Amarici,’ (Mitteilungen d. Seminars f.
Orientalis Sprachen, zu Berlin, vol. 10, pt. 2, p. 180-184).
39. Cf. E. Cerulli, ‘L’Islam nei regni Galla indipendenti,” op. cit., p. 118.
40. According to Loransiyos, the present chief of the Zingaro is Fitawrari
Antonie, a late Catholic, converted by Cardinal Massaja, who has kept, as a
remnant of his Catholicism, only his name Antonie, i.e. Anthony.
41. Cf. Massaja, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 196-199.
42. Jules Borelli, Ethiopie meridionale, Paris, 1890, p. 166.
43 Theophile Lefebvre, Voyage en Abyssinie, Paris, 1845, vol. 1, p. xv
44 Cf. Cecchi, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 197.
45 Cf. Guidi, ‘Stofe e piccoli testi Amarici,’ op. cit.
46 Cf., Guidi, Vocabolario amarico-italiano, op. cit.
47 For the historical subject of this song, cf. Guidi, ‘Strofe e piccoli testi
Amarici,” op. cit., song 4; G.J. Afevork, La vita di Menilek II, Roma, 1906; De
Castro, Nella terra del negus, op. cit. vol. 2.
48 Cf. Cecchi, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 314-316, and Guidi, Vocabolario amarico, op.
cit., sub voice, qollie.
49 Thenceforward all the verses of the song are follwed by the refrain, “O
Children.” I have not added it to every verse of the translation.
50 Cecchi op. cit., vol. 2, p. 281
51 This song is included in The Galla Spelling Book (see Introduction). I give
the variations of The Gllas Spelling Book in parentheses, since I have writtent
he song according to the pronunciation of Loransiyos. This song wiht a few
others has already been published by Paulitzsche in his Ethnographie Nord Ost
Afrikas, vol. 2.
52 I. Guidi, ed. Historia Gentis Galla, (Corpus scriptorum orientalium,
Scriptores Aethiopiei, Paris, 1907, ser. 2, vol. 3, p. 206-207).
53 Loransiyos could not give me a clear explanation of verses 4 and 5.
54 Afevork, op.cit., p. 32.
55 Cf. Cerulli, ‘Anti popolari Amarici,’ op. cit., song 20.
56 At Gimma Qadida, the Godjamian army halted and it appeared probable that they
would attack their pursuers. However, Guttata, son of the king Qadida, stood by
Ras Gobana. Daraso withdrew from Gimma Qadida.
57 See Prose, text 2.
58 Cf. Guidi, Vocabolario amarico-italiano, op. cit. malammala.
59 As to similar ideas among the Agau, see Carlo Conti-Rossini, ‘Note sugli
Agau,’ (Giornale della Societa Asiatica Italiana, vol. 18, Firenze, 1905, p.
60 Cf. Cerulli, ‘Canti popolari amarici,’ op. cit.
61 According to Loransiyos’ tale.
62 Cerulli, op. cit.
63 Cf. Guidi, ‘Strofe e piccoli testi Amarici,” op. cit.
64 Cf. Guidi, Vocabolario amarico-italiano, op. cit., p. 278.
65 Cf. Guidi, Vocabolario amarico-italiano, op. cit., strara.
66 de salviac, Les Galla, op. cit., p. 15, says that the Galla women are “femmes
au teint tres clair, dignes de figurer a cote de nos elegantes, and qui le
cederaient a un petit nombre par leur beaute and leur esprit.”
67 Cf. Bollettino della Societa Africana d’Italia, Napoli, 1895, pl. 14, p. 138.
68 Cf. Guidi, Vocabolario amarico, op. cit., yarbora.
69 Cf. Emilio Chiovenda, Etiopia, Roma, 1912, p. 89; Carlo Annaratone, In
Abissinia, Rome, 1914, p. 499-500
70 de Salvia, op. cit., p. 216, says that this unction is made by the bridegroom
himself, but according to Loransiyos, the Galla do not permit the bridgegroom
such liberties with the bride before the wedding.
71 Cf. Jean Duchesne-Fournet, Mission en Ethiopie, Paris, 1909, vol. 1, p. 236,
72 Loransiyos does not understand the word namaboli of The Galla Spelling Book,
nor the word damaboli.
73 Cf. Guidi, Vocalario amarico, op. cit., qamo.
74 Loransiyos could not translate this verse for me.
75 Op. cit., vol. 2, p. 33.
76 Loransiyos cannot translate for me the word ano.
77 The meaning of the word siera in this verse is not clear to me.
78 Antoine d’Abbadie, ‘Sur les Oromo, grande nation Africaine,’ (Annales de la
Societe Scientifique de Bruxelles, 1880, vol. 4, p. 189).
79 Cf. Carlo Conti Rossini, Principi di diritto consuetudinario dell’ Eritrea,
Roma, 1916, p. 89-90.
80 Cf. I. Guidi, ed., Historia gentis galla, op. cit., p. 206.
81 Also collected by Tutscheck.
82 Guidi, Vocabolario amarico, op. cit., magganna.
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