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Mbari Dancers


With faces painted of edeala natural cream
With feet flourishing in undulating dance-steps 
The proud dictates of the restive drums 
Where the Ikolo performers are on the thrive
Each in readiness to out-pipe his neighbor –
The dancers come digging it out with the sun
With the hunters taking their spears to the sky!

Young Mbari dancers, robust, eager & joyous
Awaiting the life-panthers that must come home
After the drum-beats in the hunter’s forest –
’Tis like a gathering of spirits & humans
At the age-long esplanade of the clan, for lads
& lasses, fathers & mothers, young & old, all
Have come to the roost like a family of chickens.

Dancing in pairs, in circles & diverse angular
Movements, a genius of the earth: each dancer
Makes her to-&-fro design-gaits & flights
Like some nymphs in dream-land gardens
Their gaits are swift & in skillful harmony
Following the restive palms of the drummers!

Ah, old Emuka gets at it, the renowned piper
At his high zest, taking Mbari eagle-dancers
To the heights of lofty Iroko-dance-branches
An embodiment of every echo-throat’d piper!
& a dancer dances as if it were her last dance;
& ’tis a full sun-burnt commotion of a dance;
O, isn’t it an half-human, half-spirit dance?


Copyright © Canny Amah