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NIGERIAN CATTLEMAN'S SONG / James Simmons At Kandi SHE WHO TEASES laid back her horns. At Sokoto we played tricks on THE ONE WHO ADVANCES ON ENEMIES, ha, we gave her the calf of THE ONE WHOSE HORNS SPREAD BROADLY. Ha, she mistook it for hers. Ho. At Kaura Namoda the lazy locals marvelled at THE ONE WITH THE WHITE BLAZE ON HER FOREHEAD, ho, for she went skipping among them light on her four hooves despite her grandeur. As we left that village the various herd lowed with one voice. At Katsina the herd walked proudly. Ayee. Themselves they killed a marauder. At Katsina too SHE WHO STANDS OUT ABOVE THE HERD gave birth and so did SHE WHO GRAZES ON THE RIDGE. On the raod south SHE WHO PREVENTS OTHERS APPROACHING got friendly with ONE WHOSE HORNS ARE AS STRAIGHT AS PLANKS. They showed off their slim bodies together. They displayed the tips of their horns. At the great city of Kano the herd danced in unison and played together in the light rain. At Zaria death struck and the herd was patient. They died as the four princes of Kano died, tricked, locked in the burning tent, pressing together while walls of flame embraced them. THE ONE WHO RETURNS HOME WITH PRIDE was groaning all night. It was heart's pain for the herdsman to listen. 26 · The Missouri Review The Kaduna people were amazed to observe the herd. They asked if SHE WHOSE HORNS REACH OVER THE WATER TROUGHS and SHE WHOSE HORNS ARE LIKE POLISHED REEDS were sisters? Were they daughters of SHE WHOSE HORNS STICK OUT OF THE BUSHES? I laughed at them. They will never know these beasts. These are the daughters of THE LEADER WHO MAKES THE REGION WONDER. The idle people of Minna were also curious. 'Why was one cow so friendly with another? Were both of them of the same mother?' I answered, 'We who live with cattle still have imperfect knowledge. How can they ever be known to you, the hangers on of the Europeans?' The ground was parched here and we turned eastwards. We passed many villages quickly, the cattle pressing against me like warriors challenging. The newly burnt land was a disappointment. At camp I was walking up and down all night beside SHE WHO GIVES BLOWS AND BRUISES. But oh, when we came up to Jos plantiful was the water. The herd drank and relaxed. The people there took pleasure in watching. SHE WHOSE HORNS ARE NOT JUST DECORATION ran all the way, and the milkers avoided THE RESTLESS ONE. Oh, slim cows, the journey is long, but on Jos plateau your horns point upwards again. James Simmons The Missouri Review · 27 ...


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