PUKU Logo

PUKU

Children's Literature in Southern Africa

Koiyetsa Bana

In the past, Sesotho koiyetsa bana (lullabies for children) were sung to babies by their mothers, older sisters and nannies to comfort, encourage, educate or entertain them. According to Edith Dikotla, the oral tradition of storytelling through short prose included game songs sung by young girls, which played an important part in their socialization.

The songs are regarded as a form of literature which is an integral part of culture and tribal life.

Storytelling at Salon du Livre 2013

The following is a traditional lullaby frequently sung by the mother to communicate with her ancestors to welcome her baby into their family:

Badimo baetsho wee
Radimo haetsho wee
Hei hei
Hei hei badimo baetsho
Amogelang 'sea la me
Sea le tswang tlapeng
Tlapeng la badimo
Hei hei
Hei hci badimo baetsho

(Our ancestors hey
Our ancesrors hey
Hey; hey
Hey hey our ancestors
Welcome my baby
Baby from the rock
Rock of ancestors*
Hey hey
Hey hey our ancestors)

*Rock of ancestors refers to an unknown place where it is believed that the ancestors are staying.

The message conveyed in the following song consoles a young girl growing up in difficult circumstances, perhaps with an absent or unknown father. It has an empowering element and goes against the tradition of marginalising illegitimate children while encourages the child to face the challenges of life:

Go ne go le ngwanyana
A dutse letlapeng
A ntse a lela
Ka nako tsotlhe
Ema ngwanyana
Phumula dikeledi
Tlhopha yo mo ratang
O tshegetshege nae
Tlhopha yo mo ratang
O iturnele nae

(There was once a girl
She sat on a rock
She was crying
All the time
Stand up girl Wipe your ur tears
Choose the one you love
And laugh with her
Choose the one you love
Rejoice with her)

We believe that keeping our oral traditions, stories and culture alive are national imperatives and work to make learning and living African languages a joyous and proud experience for young people. What are some of your favourite imilolozelo, lithoka tsa sekolo or folktales? Email them to bontle@book.co.za or share them on our Facebook page and we'll publish them right here on puku.co.za for a new generation to enjoy!

References:

  • Dikotla, E.M. 2007. "Batswana Women's Songs: Vehicles for Enculturation, Continuity and Change". Available from: North-West University Institutional Repository. [14 April 2013]