Yipunu love poem
Yinzinzi yau mu du muenu
La duimbu duami a du viulile ubuedji
Toumbe lenge tsidughe yi tsidui
La nzitu ni u rondi'ami
→ French poem ←
Yipunu language and the Punus
Love poem translated into Yipunu (alternatives : Yipounou, Pouno, Punu, yi-punu, Pounou, Puno, Ipounou, Ipunu), the tonal, southern Bantu language, spoken by the Punus or Banupus in Angola, Republic of Congo and in Nyanga and Ngounié in southern Gabon (200,000 people).
Tradition gives the Kassai in southern Zaire as their original cradle. It is from there that the original group would have migrated towards the coast in Angola, to clash with the Portuguese who sent them back from where they came and towards the north. It was after this episode that they were called "Punu" = "those who kill".
Their Yipunu language will have been influenced by their travels and the resulting contacts. Currently, the three European languages in the region (French, English, Portuguese) are the most impactful.
It is also important to understand that in Gabon, French is the official language and that the tendency is to replace the other languages of the country. Their number is also a handicap to prevent this trend. Fortunately, today some of them are starting to exist in schools and in the media.
In addition to gatherers, hunters and fishermen, the Punus are often farmers who clear forest plots during the dry season, then cultivate these plots on slash and burn, with plants harvested during clearing (yams).
As for many African ethnic groups, among the Punus the festivals with music, masked dancers, are very important. Art is inherent in their culture and fits perfectly with their traditions which include many rites.
Today the Punus represent the ¼ of the Gabonese population, and urbanization, with the displacement of populations towards the towns, has gradually dispossessed them of their rites and traditions.
Communication in Africa
The essential communication technique of African civilization is orality. Ethnologists like Levi-Strauss insist that African societies are based on concrete relationships between individuals. A society that favors this type of relationship is naturally led to emphasize speech and memory.
There are people in African society whose function is to be depositaries and transmitters. They recall the genealogies, magnify the lineages, preserve the ancestral experience in the form of proverbs or riddles. This who says history or wisdom speaks for his group, that mean, to instruct it, but also in its name.
The speech engages the group. Thus, it presupposes a technique of diction and memorization (a ritual text must be recited without errors, if not there is a collective punishment), privileged place and time conditions (ceremonies, events that involve the participation of the village).