Songs from Ethiopia and South Sudan
Gordon Koang is probably the most iconic traditional Nuer singer today, famous internationally among the Nuer diaspora. Blind from birth, he plays the tom, a type of box lyre, and composes many songs praising and teaching about Nuer culture. Gordon composed this song "Ɛ kɔn cië nyaa Nuer” ("We are the people of Nuer") around the mid-2000s.
Ɛ kɔn cië nyaa Nuer
We are the people of Nuer
Kɔn gaat nyaa Nuer
We are the children of Nuer
Kɔn cië nyaa Nuer
We are people of Nuer
Kam da kɛ jur tëë tim ëë kɔn cië nyaa Nuer x3
We like having foreigners around us, we are the people of Nuer
Ɛ ɣän wur mi caa ŋiec ɛ diit ɛ ɣän gar mi ca ŋiec ɛ diitaa
I’m a man who is taught by the traditional song, I’m a guy who is taught by traditional song
Cu dhol ŋɛ̈ɛ̈ny ciee daŋdalɛ
The boy becomes irritated like ginger
Dhool cɛ jiek cie daŋdalɛ
The boy becomes so bad like ginger
Dhol cɛ kɛ̈c cie daŋdalɛ dhol cɛ ŋɛ̈ɛ̈ny cie daŋdalɛ
Then the boy becomes so bitter like ginger, the boy becomes irritated like ginger*
Gari min bi duer kä thudan kärɔa
Ahh, only one thing that will be wrong to Sudan
Kä mi cie ŋu /ca naath bɛlɔ, cäŋ bitdi /ca naath bɛl
And what does that thing look like? People are not being blamed, even if you keep quiet, people are not being blamed
Ɣëëy ɣëëy /ca naath bɛl
No no, people are not being blamed**
Ɣänɛ bä döny kɛ gat nyal Bentiɛw
Me, I will dance with the girl from Bentiu
Ɣɔɔ bä döny kɛ gat nyaal Nathɛr
Ok, I will dance with the girl from Nasir
Ɣänɛ bä döny kɛ gat nyal Pangak
Me, I will dance with the girl from Pangak
Ɣɔɔ bä döny kɛ gat nyaal köbɛ
Ok, I will dance with the girl from Akobo***
Ɣän bä döny kɛ gat nyaal ciëŋ Nuerä
Me, I will dance with the girl from Nuer land
Nyɛbɛɛl cu nɛy rɔ riɛw, nyɛbɛɛl Col cu nɛy rɔ riɛw, nyɛbɛɛl cu nɛy rɔ riɛw, kɔr nyal mi dɔny bul kɛ panɛ
Nyebeel and I dance, Nyebeel Chuol and I shake, Nyebeel and I dance, following the girl who is dancing with the traditional belt****
* Gordon leaves this line ambiguous and open to interpretation. It might mean Gordon has a personal issue with someone (and he himself is the irritated boy) or it might have something to do with other ethnic groups or the Sudanese government irritating the Nuer people.
** This line also has multiple potential meanings. It may refer to the Sudanese government or the Arab people or something more general.
*** Bentiu, Nasir, and Pangak are different areas of southern Sudan (present-day South Sudan) where many Nuer people reside; Akobo is another area with high Nuer population on the Ethiopian side of the border.
**** Nyebeel is a girl's name.