one of the most widely used poetic forms in Africa; a series of laudatory epithets applied to gods, men, animals, plants, and towns that capture the essence of the object being praised. Professional bards, who may be both praise singers to a chief and court historians of their tribe, chant praise songs such as these of the great Zulu chieftain Shaka: He is Shaka the unshakeable,Thunderer-while-sitting, son of Menzi.He is the bird that preys on other birds,The battle-axe that excels over otherbattle-axes.He is the long-strided pursuer, son of Ndaba,Who pursued the sun and the moon.He is the great hubbub like the rocks ofNkandlaWhere elephants take shelterWhen the heavens frown. . . .(trans. by Ezekiel Mphahlele
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