Kobe na Sungura

The poem Kobe na Sungura was composed by Ahmed Sheikh Nabhany who resides in Mombasa.  It is based on the well-known folk tale about the race run by the Tortoise and the Hare, familiar to the children of the world.  The translation is by TJH with the help of a translation by Jan Feidel of New York who kindly shared his work.

The original without translation appeared in Umbuji wa Kiwandeo, a collection of Nabhany’s poetry edited by Ibrahim Noor Shariff and published by the East African Publishing House in 1985.  Presented here with the permission of the author.

Kobe na Sungura Tortoise and Hare
   
1.  Walitaka mashindano, kobe na mwende sungura They wanted a competition, Tortoise and his friend Hare
Wakafanya maagano, mambo yakawa imara They agreed, and so things were set firmly in place
Wakangoja mapambano, nani wa kutia fora. They waited for the struggle, who would be the winner
   
2.  Wakaalika mwituni, wanyama wakawambiya They invited the animals of the forest, and told them
Wasibaki hayawani, siku wakiingojeya Not one beast should remain behind, waiting for it (the race)
Watizame ushindani, watakaokukimbiya. So they might see the contest and those who will run.
   
3. Hapo wakakusanyika, simba na punda miliya Then lions and zebras gathered together
Faru ndovu wakatoka, t‘ui na nyati pamoya Rhinos and elephants came out, along with leopards and buffalo
Vyura p’aa hata nyoka, hakuna alobakiya Frogs, gazelles, even snakes, there was no one who remained behind.
   
4.  Amri yalipotoka, washindani kukimbiya When the command came for the competitors to run
Sungura akishopoka, nyuma hakuangaliya Once Hare sprang forth, he never  looked back
Na kobe kasingirika, kiyandama yake ndiya. And Tortoise rolled along, going along his way.
   
5. Kitunguwe akifika, katikati kapumuwa Upon reaching half way Hare took a rest
T‘iyati akapomoka, kwa mbiyo akaikuwa He collapsed on the ground (but) as for the race he was in command
Dharau zikamshika, kobe havuti khatuwa. Scorn took hold of him, Tortoise isn’t taking any steps.
   
6.  Kobe kazi akashika, na bidii akatiya Tortoise held to his task, and put effort (into it)
Katikati akafika, sungura meilaliya He arrived half way, (where) Hare was fast asleep
Wala yeye hakuchoka, safari kaendeleya Nor was he tired, and went on with his journey
   
7.  Kitunguwe kizunduka, fududu mesikiliya When Hare awoke with a start, Tortoise had already arrived (and gone)
Akakimbiya haraka, kwa kasi akit’upiya And so off in a rush he ran, pushing himself quickly into high gear
Kobe nae amefika, ushindi kaipatiya. But Kobe had already arrived and secured victory for himself.
   
8.  Kwa wot‘e wakatamka, wanyama wakamwambiya Everyone there declared, all the animals said to him
Kifuvu mayondteka, salama kusikiliya Tortoise, laugh, you have safely arrived
Ubele umeushika, kuongoza yako ndiya. You have come in first, to be a leader (to lead) is your way.
   
9. Na medo umeishika, sungura hajatokeya And you have reached your goal, Hare has not yet appeared
Kwa sut‘e tumeridhika, mk’oni kusikiliya As for us we all agree, you have reached the finish line
Umeshinda kwa hakika, nasi tumeshuhudiya. You have certainly won, and we have witnessed it.
   
10.  K’ongole ndako mwendani, kwa bidii ulotiya Congratulations are yours, O friend, for the effort you made
Kitunguwe yafaani, mbiyo alozikimbiya As for Hare, what good was the speed with which he ran
Kiburi na taraghani, hazikumsaidiya. Arrogance and boastfulness did not help him.
   
11.  Sungura kahuzunika, pumzi akizifuwa Hare was sad, as he panted away
Mai yakisha mwagika, ni taabu kuyazowa Once water is spilled, it is difficult to mop it up
Taratibu kaondoka, na matozi akitowa. Slowly he left, with tears flowing.

 

Kobe na Sungura

chupa [v. i.] Jump down from above, jump from branch to branch in a tree, etc. (FJ).
fududu [n. 9/10 an.] Tortoise (TJH). Tortue de terre (G.). Syn. Am. kifuvu-mayondi; DS kobe (Sx). Not in FJ. Kitunguwe kizunduka, fududu mesikiliya, When Hare awoke with a start, Tortoise had already arrived (and gone on) (ASN-KS7).
fuwa pumzi [v. tr.] Draw breath, pant (lit. beat the breath) (TJH). See –fua (FJ, Sx). Sungura kahuzunika pumzi akizifuwa, Hare was sad, as he panted away (ASN-KS11).
hayawani [n. 9/10 an.] Animal; (2) beast; (3) brute, savage violent person (TJH). Brute, beast; a person just like an animal, i.e. shameless, stupid, brute, idiot (FJ). Wasibaki hayawani, siku wakiingojeya, Not one animal should remain behind, waiting for it (the race) (ASN-KS1).
ikuwa [v. refl.] Be in control of oneself, have power over; see –jiweza, {< -ji- + kuwa ‘to be’} (TJH); T‘iyati akapomokakwa mbiyo akaikuwa He collapsed on the ground (but) as for the race he was in command (ASN-KS5).
ilaliya [v. refl. app.] Be in a deep asleep, be fast asleep (TJH). St. –jilalia; See St. –lala (FJ). Katikati akafika, sungura meilaliya, He arrived half way, (where) Hare was fast asleep (ASN-KS6).
ipatiya [v. refl. app.] Get for oneself. See St. –jipatia (TJH). Kobe nae amefika ushindi kaipatiya, But Kobe had already arrived and secured victory for himself (ASN-KS7).
it‘upiya [v. refl. app.] Rush oneself into action [TJH]. See St. –jichupia; –tupia. Akakimbiya haraka kwa kasi akit’upiya, And then off in a rush he ran, pushing himself at high speed (ASN-KS7).
k’ongole [n. 9/10] Congratulations (TJH). See hongera, pongezi (FJ). K’ongole ndako mwendani kwa bidii ulotiya, Congratulations are yours, Oh friend, for the effort you put in to it (ASN-KS10).
khatuwa [n. 9/10] Step, pace (TJH). See St. hatua (FJ). Dharau zikamshika kobe havuti khatuwa, Scorn took hold of him, Tortoise isn’t taking any steps (ASN-KS5).
kifuvu-mayondi/zi- [n.7/8] Tortoise (TJH). Tortue de terre, litt. “la coque (carapace) béate” (Am) — Syn DS kobe, G. fududu. (Sx). Kifuvu mayondi, teka salama kusikiliya, Tortoise, laugh, you have safely arrived (ASN-KS8).
kitunguwe [n. 7/8 an.] Hare (TJH). Lièvre (Va. Mv.), sungura (DS), mbuga (Mr.) par ext. lapin. — Fig. en parlant de qqn., un lièvre, un malin.  2) Mv. atte, sort d’araigné, saltigrade très belliqueuse. — Syn. DS. Mv. kiuma-nzi, Am. G. kitunguwe, G. kizukali. (Sx). Kitunguwe akifika, katikati kapumuwa, Upon reaching half way Hare took a rest (ASN-KS5).
mai [n.5] Water (TJH). See maji (FJ). Mai yakisha mwagika, ni taabu kuyazowa, Once water is spilled, it is difficult to mop it up (ASN-KS11).
mbiyo [n.9/10] Race, running fast (TJH). See St. mbio (FJ). Kitunguwe yafaani, mbiyo alozikimbiya, As for Hare, what good was the speed with which he ran (ASN-KS10). Note use of plural relative pronoun in verb alozikimbiya agreeing with mbiyo.
medo [n. 9/10] Goal (TJH). See mede (inv.) But (but de jeu), la pierre etc., qui marque le but (Sx). Na medo umeishika, sungura hajatokeya; And you have reached the goal, Hare has not yet appeared (ASN-KS9). Ar. 
mk’o [n. 3] Finish line (?) (TJH). Not in Sx, FJ. Kwa sut‘e tumeridhika, mk’oni kusikiliya, As for us all we agree, you have reached the finish line (ASN-KS9).
mshindani/wa- [n. 1/2] Competitor (TJH). See –shindana (FJ). Amri yalipotoka, washindani kukimbiya; Sungura akishopoka, nyuma hakuangaliya, When the command came for the competitors to run; spring forth Hare never looked back (ASN-KS4).
mwende/w- [n. 1/2] Companion, friend (TJH). See St. mwenzi (FJ). Also mwendi (Sx). Walitaka mashindano, kobe na mwende sungura, They wanted a competition, Tortoise and his friend Hare (ASN-KS1).
ndako [v. cop.] It is yours, they are yours. St. ni yako ~ ni zako. See Nurse 1982, p. 83 (TJH). Crase pour ni ya avec extensions aux locutions possessives ndangu, ndako, ndake, ndetu, ndenu, ndao. Ces forms sont plus usitées dans les Dial. Am. G. Ng. qu’ailleurs … (Sx). K’ongole ndako mwendani, kwa bidii ulotiya; Congratulations are yours, Oh friend, for the effort you put in to it (ASN-KS10).
opoka [v. i.] Take off, spring forth, pull out quickly, pull away quickly (TJH). Be saved (rescued, cured) (FJ). –Opoa take (fetch, pull, draw) out (FJ). –Opoa: 1. (DS. Mv, = Ngw. -lopola, -opola, -opoa). retirer, tirer, enlever ou arracher del’intérieur de; repêcher; prendre dedans; dégager, dépêtrer …; 2. (Mv) Enlever ou ravir sa proie (oiseau); 3. (Am) faire tomber d’un endroit élevé. Tartibu! utamwopoa (katika mti), Attention! Tu le feras tomber (de l’arbre). Sungura akishopoka, nyuma hakuangaliya, Once Hare sprang forth, he never looked back (ASN-KS4). {See –ng’oa root up, pull out, –ng’oka be pulled up; colloq. Go away in a hurry, pull away, be on one’s way}.
pamoya [n. 16, adv.] Together, in the company with (< pa– + –moya ‘one place’) (TJH). See St. pamoja (FJ). Faru ndovu wakatoka, t‘ui na nyati pamoya, Rhinos and elephants came out, along with leopards and buffalo (ASN-KS3).
pomoka [v. i.] Fall down, collapse. See tomber, s’abattre (Am. G.): verbe distinct de -poromoka également us. à Am. — Doublet de -bomoka, rac. -omoa > omo (Sx). Fall down, collapse (FJ). T‘iyati akapomoka, kwa mbiyo akaikuwa He collapsed on the ground (but) as for the race he was in command (ASN-KS5).
pumuwa [v. i.] Draw breath, breath; rest. See St. –pumua 1. draw breath, breathe… 2. …. rest… (FJ). Kitunguwe akifika, katikati kapumuwa, Upon reaching half way, Hare took a rest (ASN-KS5).
punda miliya [n. 9/10 an.] Zebra (TJH). See St. punda milia (FJ). Hapo wakakusanyika, simba na punda miliya, Then lions and zebras gathered together (ASN-KS3).
ridhika [v. i.] Be happy, be content, be satisfied, be in accord, be in agreement (TJH). See radhi (FJ). Kwa sut‘e tumeridhika, mk’oni kusikiliya, As for us all we agree, you have reached the finish line (ASN-KS9).
shika ubele [v. tr.] Come in first, be first in a race; See ubele (TJH). Ubele umeushika, kuongoza yako ndiya, You have come in first, to be a leader (to lead) is your way (ASN-KS8).
shika medo [v. tr.] Reach one’s goal, get a goal (TJH). See mede (inv.) But (but de jeu), la pierre etc., qui marque le but (Sx). Na medo umeishika, sungura hajatokeya; And you have reached the goal, Hare has not yet appeared (ASN-KS9). Ar.
sikiliya [v. intns.] Arrive, get to a place (TJH). See St. –fikilia (ND si : SD fi). Sx identifies –sikiliya as a synonym for St. –fika in Amu and Tikuu. Kitunguwe kizunduka, fududu mesikiliya, When Hare awoke with a start, Tortoise had already arrived (and gone on) (ASN-KS7).
singirika [v. i.] Roll along, go by rolling (TJH). See Sx under –vingirika: Rouler en progessant, advancer en roulant, rouler; pouvoir rouler, Jiwe likavingirika, likashukia chini {-singirika (Am.), –bingirika (DS, Mv.), –viringika (G.), –bimbirika (Mr.)}; see DS –vingirika, –bimbirika; –singirika < *-fingirika < –vingirika métathèse de –viringika (Sx). See –fingirika go by rolling (by turning round or over and over), roll round, be rolled along, as a log, not as a stationary revolving wheel (FJ). Na kobe kasingirika, kiyandama yake ndiya, And Tortoise rolled along, going along his way (ASN-KS4).
sut‘e [pron.] All of us (TJH). See St. sote & -ote (FJ). Am. G. = DS sote (Sx). Kwa sut‘e tumeridhika, mk’oni kusikiliya, As for us all we agree, you have reached the finish line (ASN-KS9).
t‘iyati [n. 9/10] Ground, on the ground (< t‘i ya ti) (TJH). See St. nchi, chini (FJ). Dans les expressions nyuni wa t‘iati, oiseau terrestre, oiseau coureur (Mv. Am.); noni wa it’i (G.) : ndege wa chini (DS); ket’i t‘iati, assieds-toi à terre (G); keti it’i : DS kaa chini (G) (Sx) T‘iyati akapomoka, kwa mbiyo akaikuwa He collapsed on the ground, (but) as for the race he was in command (ASN-KS5).
t’ui [n. 9/10 an.] Leopard (TJH). See St. chui (FJ). Faru ndovu wakatoka, t‘ui na nyati pamoya, Rhinos and elephants came out, along with leopards and buffalo (ASN-KS3).
tupa [v. i.] Jump down from above, etc. (FJ). Sauter par dessus Mr. Am. = Z. P. –chupa (Sx).
tupiya [v. app.] Move quickly, rush, dash, gallop (FJ). Akakimbiya haraka, kwa kasi akitupiya, And then off in a rush he ran, pushing himself quickly at high speed (ASN-KS7).
tia fora [v. i.] Win in a game, succeed in an undertaking, i.e. a particular task of work (FJ). Wakangoja mapambano, nani wa kutia fora, They waited for the struggle, who would be the winner (ASN-KS1).
tiya [v. tr.] Put, place. See St. –tia (FJ). Kobe kazi akashika, na bidii akatiya, Tortoise held to his task, and put effort into it (ASN-KS6).
tozi/ma- [n. 5/6] Tear. St. chozi/ma– ‘tear’ (FJ). Taratibu kaondoka, na matozi akitowa, Slowly he left, with tears flowing (ASN-KS11).
ubele [n. 11/10] Forward position, ahead, first; advancement, advancement in rank, progress (TJH). Position en avant; avancement, action de monter en grade, progress, < mbele (Am. G. ubee) (Sx). Feather, a sign of victory (ASN). See mbele before, in front, etc. (FJ). Ubele umeushika, kuongoza yako ndiya, You have come in first, to be a leader (to lead) is your way (ASN-KS8).
ushindani [n. 14] Rivalry, competition, emulation, contest, fighting (FJ). Watizame ushindani, watakaokukimbiya, So they might see the contest and those who will (want to) run (ASN-KS2).
vuta khatuwa [v. tr.] Take steps, make tracks, move along (TJH). See St. –vuta (FJ). Dharau zikamshika, kobe havutikhatuwa, Scorn took hold of him, Tortoise isn’t taking any steps (ASN-KS5).
wa imara [v. i.] Be set, be established, be firm, be fixed in place (TJH). See imara (FJ). Wakafanya maagano, mambo yakawa imara, They made a pact, and so everything was firmly set (ASN-KS-1).
watakaokukimbiya [infl. v.] See St. Watakao kukimbia. Normally the infinitival marker ku is dropped in St. Sw. constructions. Watizame ushindani, watakaokukimbiya, So they might see the contest and those who will run (ASN-KS2).
yafaani [infl. v.] See St. Yafaa nini? Of what use is it, of what good is it, what is it good for? See –faa (FJ). Kitunguwe yafaani, mbiyo alozikimbiya, As for Hare, what good was the speed with which he ran? (ASN-KS10).
zunduka [v. i.] Wake up suddenly with a start (TJH). Se réveiller en sursaut (Sx). See St. –zinduka (FJ). Kitunguwe kizunduka, fududu mesikiliya, When Hare awoke with a start, Tortoise had already arrived (and gone on) (ASN-KS7).

Note: Though many of the lexical forms which Nabhany uses are Northern Dialect forms (e.g. t‘ui “leopard” and -sikiliya “arrive”), he also uses Southern Forms (e.g. vyura KS-3 which in ND would be zura “frogs”)

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