The Guardian of the Word

webGuinée Littérature francophone

The Guardian of the Word

Laye Camara

Black Soul

Black soul, African soul,
It is to you I pray this evening, kneeling on my mat;
You whose rich body is fragrant with palm oil,
You whose flexing muscles catch reflections of the radiant sun of Africa!
You who as your only garment wear a strip of cotton —
You are beautiful, at ease in your strength and in your dignity;
In the tireless tiller of the soil, carrying his daba, leaning hard on his plough, I sing of you.
And you, blacksmith with the rugged hands!
And you, fisherman, back bent with days of craft and patience!
And you, young workers, students, labourers in the fields, the future of Africa!
And you, Black Woman, bearing within your breast the spring of life!
And you, patriotic politician, emancipator of your people!
All, all of you are my goddess with the hundred faces.
Black soul that the savannahs and the under woods have permeated with a carefree calm,
Black soul sold into slavery, victim of slander and calumny,
Black soul! Mystic black soul!
Awaken, arise, raise yourself up!
Proclaim to the universe the power of your creative genius,
O black soul, African soul!


  • Translator’s Preface
  • Africa: Voices from the Depths