Ngamia na Paa – The Camel and the Gazelle

Introduction

In doing this new translation of Ngamia na Paa I have relied on two previous translations. One by J.W.T. Allen (1971) into English; the other by Ernst Dammann (1940:285-327) in German. Unfortunately neither identify the author of the poem. Given the theme of the poem, I presume it is based on an original Islamic tale or story; the author of the poem does identify the source (see Synopsis below). The Swahili version here is that of Allen’s. In some very few cases I have substituted a vocabulary item from Dammann’s text; these are properly footnoted.

Synopsis

 

This page is under construction.  It is incomplete. 

 

 

Utendi wa Ngamia na P’aa The Epic of the Camel and the Gazelle
1. Bismillahi nadhikuri, Ina la Mola Jabari, Aliyo pweke Ghafari, Mwenye kutughufiriya In the name of God, I say, The name of the Lord Almighty, Who alone is the Forgiver, The one who forgives us.
2. U pweke Mola Rabana, Hana mke hana mwana, Haonekani huona, Hakuzawa hakuzaa He is the only Lord God, He has neither wife nor son, He is not seen (but) He sees, He was not born (nor) does he beget.
3. Arrahmani azizi, Mtukufu mwenye ezi, Mwingi mno wa mbawazi, Wa sut’e kutumbawaa The most glorious Compassionate God, The Glorious all powerful, Exceedingly Great in pity, Who pities us all.
4. Ya Rabi ndio Rahimu, Wa janati na jahimu, Mteuzi wa qaumu, Kesho Mola tateuwa Oh God you are indeed Merciful, Of Paradise and Hell, (He is) the one who chooses among the people, In the end (lit. tomorrow) Almighty God will choose.
5. Tateuwa wema wema, Watenda amali njema, Akiwatiya neema, Na huri wakiwaowa He will choose the very best, The doers of good deeds, Bestowing grace on them, And marrying them to houris.
6. Na aswi zake Manani, Fisadi za duniyani, Wenda kukaa motoni, Kwa pingu na silisiya And the rebels against the Beneficent One, The corrupt in the world, They go to dwell in hellfire, In shackles and chains.
7. Hayo mtenda ni yeye, Haku mwingine ilaye, Na mngu kuliko yeye, Na sut’e twafahamiya He is the doer of (all) those things, There isn’t anyone else except him, Nor a god over him, And all of us understand (that).
8. Mtenda zema nkwambiye, Utendee nafusiye, Na ambao uaswiye, Enda kuona muhaa The one who acts morally let me tell you, He has acted of his own accord, And the one who is disobedient, He will only (lit. goes to) see trouble.
9. Ulinenee Manani, Kwa aya ya qur’ani, Ili kwamba tubaini, Insi na mursaa The Beneficent One had spoken long ago, through a verse in the Koran, So that we may know for certain, (We) the people and prophets.
Ha mim 46 Verse from the Koran: Whoso does right it is for his soul, and who does evil it is against it for thy Lord is not unjust towards His servants (< JWT)
10. Swifa za Mola latifu, Basi na tuziwaqifu, Tumtaye ashirafu, Muhamadi mfadhaa So the praises of the Good God, Let us dedicate them (to him), Let us speak of the “nobles”, Of the favorite Mohammed[1]
11. Kwanda kuumba Moletu, Kwanda hakuumba kitu, Ilaye mwema wa watu, Akamuweka kakaa In the beginning of creation our Lord, To begin with, he did not create a thing, Except for him the best (lit. good one) of every one, He blessed him and then rested
12. Alimuumba qadimu, Mbee za wanaadamu, Akapowa na maqamu, Kuliko watu sikiya He created him long ago, In times before any other human beings, And he was given standing, Over all other people, oh hear (what I’m saying)
13. Uumbilwe mdathiru, Mzagaa nuru, Qabulati ‘lqamaru, Wa qabula shamusiya He was created “covered”, One who gives off light, Even before the moon, Or before the sun
14. Uumbilwe muombezi, Yuwa kusi mwezi, Kusi kiza kivumbizi, Na ambapo paangaa (pa angaa) He was created as an intercessor, When there was no sun, nor moon, When there was no gloomy darkness, And when (there was no) bright place
15. Uli umbilwe Bashiri, Kusi mbingu kusi bari, Kusi na mwana tuyuri, Kusi mtu wa kumeya[1] He had been formed as a Herald of good news, When there was neither sky nor land, When there was no young of any bird, Nor living person
16. Kusi nyama hayawani, Kusi mai baharini, Kusi malaka mbinguni, Kusi nyota za kuwaa There were no wild beasts, Nor water in the sea, There were no angels in heaven, Nor blazing stars
17. Kusi arshi qadimu, Kusi kursi adhimu, Kusi janati naimu, Kusi na kitu asiya There was no ancient Holy Throne, No glorious seat, Nor blissful paradise, There was nothing at all
18. Kusi moto kusi p’epo, Kusi jaradu na p’opo, Kusi kitu kiliyopo, Kusi simba kusi p’ea There was no fire, No winds, No grasshoppers nor bats, There was nothing in existence, No lions nor rhinoceros
19. Kusi asadi na fili, Kusi na mwenda na vuli, Kusi na mwenda tutuli, Kusi mwenye kutambaa There were neither lions nor elephants, Nothing that goes with shadows, Nothing that travels on two legs, Nothing that crawls
20. Kusi kitu chenendao, Kusi p’epo ivumao, Kusi mtu anenao, Ghairu ‘llahi taa There was nothing that moved, No rustling wind, There was no one who speaks, only God alone on High

[1] Dammann (1940) has kusi mti wa kumea “there was no growing tree”. Either version works; but I’m keeping to the JWT text.

[1] Compare with verse 27.

Discovering Swahili Poetry