The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Niyi Osundare (Nigeria): 1 Poem Published





Oruku tindi tindi tindi


Oruku tindi tindi tindi




I paint the world aloud


With the rainbow of my song


My canvas ripples with tones


Hanging tremulous between the ears




The sky is one brush high


The paintbottle a pampered puddle


Brimming with hints and howls


And the unheard music of roaring waters






Oruku tindi tindi tindi




I yellow dawn’s river


With the prophecy of my pee


Meandering like a sighing old warrior


Towards the dusken sea




I hear the bushfowl’s raucous laughter


In the savannah of my youth


Fast, full-feathered,


Beyond the reach of greedy guns




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




The elephant grass


Has run out of tusks


So tall, so imposing,


It bends the wind to its will




The patient eye it is


That sees the nose


The porridge of a thousand years


May still burn the hasty finger




Oruku tindi tindi tindi





Smile, Ologuro** that the world


May see the beauty of your soul


Dance, chosen one, that I


May behold the melody of your mind






Like a little boy’s desire


For a bird in the tree


Like a sweetheart’s longing


For a pearl on the ocean floor




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Those who crave the egg


Hardly know the pain of the hen


Their thirst is so intense


It leaves a dent in our river




I live in that street of dawn


Where the cock has a trumpet in its throat


A feathery blast conjures up the sun


And the day unfolds like a radiant flower




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




The rain has no water


To wash its clothes


The millipede mocks the race


With its surfeit of legs




Chaos quakes into Cosmos


A purple peace is born


The Universe hides its clothes


In the wardrobe of the Void




 Oruku tindi tindi tindi


Oruku tindi tindi tindi




*Yoruba expression; no translatable meaning; used here for its sound and performance effect.


** Sweetheart


Oruku tindi tindi


Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz




Oruku tindi tindi tindi


Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Con este canto de arcoíris


en mi garganta pinto el mundo


Ondeo mi tela de matices


en los balcones del oído




Mi brocha llega de aquí al cielo


bebiendo charcos de pintura


alimentándose del viento


con los brochazos de mi música






Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Al tintineo del crepúsculo


profetizado en la pipí


tiño meandros al océano


diciendo no y meando sí




En tanto ríen las gallinetas


en la sabana de mi infancia


y resonando pleniplúmeas


al evadirse de las balas




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Mira la hierba de elefante


que se ha quedado sin colmillos


tan imponente y elegante


doblando el viento de un soplido




Sólo podrás ver tu nariz


si tu visión no se impacienta


Servido el plato hace mil años


te puede aún quemar la lengua




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Sonríe, negrita de mi vida


que el mundo mire tu belleza 


Baila, Ologuro, mi elegida


y yo contemple tu cadencia







Como ese niño que desea


tomar el pájaro del árbol


Como la amada que suspira


la perla al fondo del océano




Oruku tindi tindi tindi 




Aquel que busca comer huevo


y en la gallina no repara


Aquel que bebe tan sediento


y sobre el río deja marca




Vivo en la calle del crepúsculo


en la que el gallo trompetea


Su trompeteo conjura al sol


que al retoñar nos asolea




Oruku tindi tindi tindi




Ya se le fue el agua a la lluvia


ya no podré lavar la ropa


Ya va el ciempiés a hacerles burla


a los marchantes de la tropa




Del Caos el Cosmos ha surgido


Nace la paz teñida en púrpura


Y en el ropero del Vacío


el universo se desnuda




Oruku tindi tindi tindi


Oruku tindi tindi tindi























Image from:



Niyi Osundare Bio

Niyi Osundare (Ikere-Ekiti, Ondo State, 1947) read English language and literature at Ibadan, Leeds and Toronto Universities. He is professor and heads the English faculty at Ibadan University. In his country he is well known for his literary reviews, comments and columns.

Songs of the Marketplace (1983) mark his debut. For his collection The Eye of the Earth (1986) he was awarded both the poetry prize of the Association of Nigerian Authors and the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry. But he received other awards as well, such as the 1990 Noma Award - Africa's most prestigious literary prize.

Niyi Osundare's poetry holds many images and its language is fluid. He is very concerned with the fate of his continent and in quite a few poems he refers back to the days preceding colonization, when Africa still had an own identity. He does not do so out of nostalgia but in order to create a defence against today's alienation.