K’ongowea ni T’uu

K’ongowea ni Tuu Mombasa is a Termite Mound
I. Kongowea ni t‘uu haimelezi mgomba Mombasa is a termite mound; it does not allow a banana plant to flourish.
Haitawali mnyau, mtezateza na vumba A cat, one who fiddles around with smelly fish, is not a ruler (lit., does not rule)
Haiyebu[1] mwenyi makuu ndiani mwenda sambamba, It (Mombasa) does not want an arrogant person, walking along with others in the streets,
Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa. It knocks him face down to the ground and annihilates him.

[1]Hichens (1940:11) renders this as haiebu.

Summary

This short poem is directed against Suleiman bin Ali, elected governor of Fort Jesus after the death of the Liwali Abdulla bin Hemed in 1823. Though elected governor by the Mazrui, he proved to be weak and unpopular. Muyaka’s poem expresses the scorn in which he was held by the people (Abdulaziz 1979:138).

Glossary
angusha mimba [v. phrase] Knock to the ground on the stomach (TJH). See -angusha mtu kwa mimba jeter qqn ventre contre terre (Sx). Knock facedown on the ground (MHA). See mimba. Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa, It knocks him face down to the ground, and annihilates him (MY-KT).
awaa [v. redup.] See -uaua ‘annihilate’ (TJH).
ebu ~ yebu [v. i.] Want, wish, desire (TJH). Vouloir, permettre, syn. -taka. N’est guère usité qu’au présent de l’ind. d’une façon exclamative, et en poésie (Sx). Note: Sacleux quotes Muyaka: Kongowéa hayebu mwenyi makuu, Mombasa ne supporte pas le fastueux. Haiyebu mwenyi makuu ndiani mwenda sambamba, It (Mombasa) does not want an arrogant person, walking along with others in the streets (MY-KT).
kwa mimba [adv.] Face down, on the stomach (TJH). Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa, It knocks him face down to the ground, and annihilates him (MY-KT).
makuu [n. 6] Arrogance, haughty attitude, conceit, pride; as mwenye makuu a pompeous, ostentatious person (TJH). Haiyebu mwenyi makuu ndiani mwenda sambamba, It (Mombasa) does not want an arrogant person, walking along with others in the streets (MY-KT).
meleza [v. cs.] Grow, nurture, flourish (of plants) (TJH). Faire germer ou pousser (Sx). See –mea grow (FJ). Kongowea ni t‘uu haimelezi mgomba, Mombasa is a termite mound; it does not allow a banana plant to flourish (MY-KT).
mimba [n. 9/10] Pregnancy, fetus, etc.; stomach (arch.); see –angusha mimba knock down on the ground (TJH). See -angusha mtu kwa mimba jeter qqn ventre contre terre (Sx). Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa, It knocks him face down to the ground, and annihilates him (MY-KT).
mnyau/mi- [n. 3/4] Cat (TJH). Chat; a borrowing from neighboring Bantu languages, e.g., Digo, Bondei, Shambala, et. (Sx). Grimalkin cat; a sick cat (MHA). Haitawali mnyau, mtezateza na vumba, A cat, one who fiddles around with smelly fish, is not a ruler (lit., does not rule) (MY-KT).
mtezateza [n. 1/2] One who plays a lot, one who messes around, fiddles about, a meddler (TJH). See –cheza play FJ. Haitawali mnyau, mtezateza na vumba, A cat, one who fiddles around with smelly fish, is not a ruler (lit., does not rule) (MY-KT).
mwenyi/w- [n. 1/2] Owner, possessor, one possessing a quality (TJH). See –enye (FJ). Haiyebu mwenyi makuu ndiani mwenda sambamba, It (Mombasa) does not want an arrogant person, walking along with others in the streets (MY-KT).
nti [n. 9/10] Land, country, etc. (TJH). See nchi (FJ). Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa, It knocks him face down to the ground, and annihilates him (MY-KT). Note the loss of the nasal prefix when combined with the preceding la ‘of’.
sambamba [adv.] Alongside, abreast, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, in line, parallel (FJ). Haiyebu mwenyi makuu ndiani mwenda sambamba, It (Mombasa) does not want an arrogant person, walking along with others in the streets (MY-KT).
tuu [n. 9/10] Termite mound, mound, knoll; ND form tuu :: SD chuguu) (TJH). Nchi ya changarawe; hard coral land (MHA). Butte, tertre, monticule; termitière (Sx). Note: Termite mounds are often formed of hard, dry earth which is not conducive to plant growth. Kongowea ni t‘uu haimelezi mgomba, Mombasa is a termite mound; it does not allow a banana plant to flourish (MY-KT).
uaua [v. redup.] Annihilate; ponda, ua (MHA). See -ua kill, etc. (FJ). Humwangusha kwa mimba juu lat‘i kamwawaa, It knocks him face down to the ground, and annihilates him (MY-KT). Note the phonological alternant in the citation: ka+m+ua+ua+a > kamwawaa. The final /-a/ is analogous to the vowel addition found in emphatics such as kulee ‘way over there’ in contrast to kule ‘there’. This would fit MHA’s glosses and translation (TJH). 
vumba/ma- [n. 5/6] Stinky, rotten fish smell (TJH). Bad smell, always connected with fish (FJ). Haitawali mnyau, mtezateza na vumba, A cat, one who fiddles around with smelly fish, is not a ruler (lit., does not rule) (MY-KT).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discovering Swahili Poetry