A Nigerian Ballad

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The Town-Crier

A Traditional Ballad

A traditional ballad from the Ora Clan in Owan Division of Bendel State of Nigeria. Translated by Mr. Oje Odihirin, Department of English in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and published in Festac Anthology of Nigerian New Writing,

Edited by Cyprian Ekwensi, January 1977.




Ora people lend me your ears.


Ora people lend me your ears


Our elders said that their ears

Have caught a strange sound.

The rumours that small-pox has struck

In the neighbouring villages

Has been confirmed.

In order to prevent the monster

From spreading death into our village

That’s quiet and peaceful

Like a crab’s hole in the river.

Our elders have advised everybody

To report at the village square,

When the sun is going to sleep,

Tomorrow evening.

To receive a dose if our ancestral antidote

To bronze-shield our skins

Against the invisible arrows

Of the formidable warrior.

You’ve heard the tongue of the elders.





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