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post Gourd and Goatskin

April 17th, 2011

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 12:29

When we talk of the Senegambia and it’s people, we tend to think only of the Mandinka, Wolof and Fulani. Here is something about the Jola and their ancient instrument of strings.

————————
Gourd and Goatskin
to the Jola of Senegal

To make her heart ting-a-ling
He’s been practising when he can.
In between help in the rice fields
He’s been playing Akonting.

Neck made of bamboo
Body of gourd and goatskin.
Instrument of three strings
For his verses of love brand new.

Ancient ‘banjo’ of the Jola
Will it help the young man tonight?
A gift of song to his beloved
Prayers to Ata Emit the Creator.

The Jola have been here forever
Peaceful makers of palm oil.
Centuries before the Fulani
Who came in after Mandinka.

For her parents he’s bought palm wine
A songbook of melodies for her.
Of two people moving together
Eternal ballad of intertwine.

On the banks of the Casamance River
While Ata Emit is painting sunset.
A young man sings his heart out
To his dream of a lifetime partner.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

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