Makanna's Gathering

Original Text: 
Thomas Pringle, African Sketches (London: Edward Moxon, 1834): 52-54. 010097.e.63 British Library
2    And arm yourselves for war.
3As coming winds the forest shake,
4    I hear a sound from far:
5It is not thunder in the sky,
6    Nor lion's roar upon the hill,
7But the voice of HIM who sits on high,
8    And bids me speak his will!
9He bids me call you forth,
11To sweep the White Men from the earth,
12    And drive them to the sea:
13The sea, which heaved them up at first,
14    For Amakósa's curse and bane,
15Howls for the progeny she nurst,
16    To swallow them again.
18    From Debè's mountain caves!
19He calls you now to make your choice --
20    To conquer or be slaves:
21To meet proud Amanglézi's guns,
22    And fight like warriors nobly born:
24    Become the freeman's scorn.
25Then come, ye Chieftains bold,
26    With war-plumes waving high;
27Come, every warrior young and old,
29Remember how the spoiler's host
30    Did through our land like locusts range!
31Your herds, your wives, your comrades lost --
32    Remember -- and revenge!
33Fling your broad shields away --
34    Bootless against such foes;
35But hand to hand we'll fight to-day,
36    And with their bayonets close.
37Grasp each man short his stabbing spear --
38    And, when to battle's edge we come,
39Rush on their ranks in full career,
40    And to their hearts strike home!
41Wake! Amakósa, wake!
42    And muster for the war:
44    The vultures from afar,
45Are gathering at UHLANGA'S call,
46    And follow fast our westward way --
47For well they know, ere evening-fall,
48    They shall have glorious prey!


1] Makanna: the Bantu chief of the Ndhlambis who led a revolt against the Dutch colonists and died in 1820 while trying to escape imprisonment.
Amakósa: "That tribe of Caffers whose territory is now divided from the colony by the river Keisi, or Keiskamma, are, in their own language, designed the Amakósa, and their country Amakosína .... The Chumi, Debè, and Kalumna, are border streams in the Amakosa territory" (Pringle's note, p. 505). Back to Line
10] Káhabee: patriarch of all the tribes. Back to Line
17] UHLANGA: the native God. Back to Line
23] Umláo's feeble sons: the enslaved Hottentots. Back to Line
28] assagai: light native javelin or lance. Back to Line
43] wizard-wolves: "One of the common superstitions of the Caffers is the belief that wolves or hyænas are employed by the sorcerers to commit ravages on those they dislike, and that sorcerers themselves sometimes assume the shape and habits of hyænas for destructive purposes" (Pringle's note, p. 520). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Oriental Herald 13 (April-June 1827). DS O743 Microfilm Room Robarts Library
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.