Barua kwa mpenzi wangu
(Letter to my lover)

Mpenzi wangu Azimio,
Nakumisi sana, sana.
Miaka imepita, miongo imerundikana,
Muda umebebwa na mwendokasi.
Wahenga walisema,
Nyakati huponya,
La hasha! Sio madhara ya moyo wangu.

Nikikukumbuka, machozi yananitiririka,
Nalia kimoyomoyo,
Nikimhofia mama Sadikika,
Asije akanishutumu,
Eti, natembea nje.
Hakuna ukweli, kukusaliti ni mwiko.

Kila kukicha,
Masikitiko yangu hukua maradufu.
Nashindwa kujifariji,
Nikikumbuka, walivyokuzika ki-siri-kali,
Bila taarifa, bila tangazo,

Eti ukapotea, mchana kweeeupe!
Nasikia uvumi, umeenea kote,
Barani na visiwani,
Inasemekana ulizikwa kisiwani.
Waswahili wanatia chumvi,
Eti, ulizamishwa baharini,
Na jiwe la Jang’ombe.

Walezi wako uchwara,
Wakanena bila haya.
Eti, hukuwa na maana,
Wala mantiki ya kufana.
Karne hii ya sasa,
Karne ya asali na anasa.

Nasikia uvumi, usioenea sana,
Wakakuzingira, wakakurushia mawe butu,
Wakakunyonga kama kuku.
Hakuna aliyesoma wasifu wako,
Hakuna aliyeomba dua kwa ajili yako:
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

Nasikia, sina hakika,
Walikuwapo,
Waliosherehekea kuzaliwa kwako.
Waliokulea, waliokudekeza.
Pia walikuwapo waliokupigia debe,
Wengi kwa kujipendekeza, wachache kwa kukuamini.

Wote, malaika wa jana na mashetani wa leo,
Wakageuka, wakawa jiwe.
Wakakumbatiana, wakapongezana.
Tumefanya kazi nzuri.
Umetufanyia kazi nzuri,
Maalim wetu, gwiji wa falsafa na itikadi

Nahisi, hapana, najua.
Aliyekuzaa, aliyekupamba,
Aliyekutangaza duniani kote.
Kazamisha kichwa chake mikononi mwake, maskini!
Kakitingisha kwa huzuni na kutokuamini.
Lahaula! Walezi niliowatuma, wakawa wakatili wa Azimio, mwanangu.

Azimio hatasahaulika,
Mzimu wake utawatesa.
Kuna siku atafufuka,
Mlompiga teke, mtapigwa teke.
Bila matumaini, hakuna utulivu,
Bila haki, hakuna amani.

Enyi Waswahili,
Mliopanda juu, begani mwa Azimio.
Mnafurahia hewa ya Bahari ya Hindi,
Yenye samaki na rasilimali tele.
Mmekaa juu ya tawi, mmejisahau.
Je, wapenzi wake wakikata mti?

Bado nampenda Azimio, mwanangu.
Nimehifadhi picha yake,
Nimeificha Bibliani.
Wakiiona wasasa,
Wataniita mpumbavu,
Aliyezongwa na mawazo mfu.

Huyu Musa anashindwa kusoma alama za nyakati,
Anang’ang’ania misahafu ya kale.
Kila zama na kitabu chake.
Zama hizi ni za madili, sio maadili.
‘’Goodbye Declaration’’,
‘’Welcome (self)-Gratification’’.

II

Wako vijana,
Wengine sio vijana sana,
Eti, wanajiita vijana.
Upendo wao kwako,
Ukavuruga akili zao,
Wakafunga safari.

Wakaenda mbali,
Mbali na bandari,
Mbali na jiji na miji.
Wakajitosa kijijini,
Mji wa zamani,
Kijiji cha M’katani.

Wakaadhimisha miaka yako arobaini.
Ungekuwa hai, ungekuwa mtu mzima,
Mwenye heshima na ustaarabu,
Mwenye sura ya kuvutia,
Na umbo la kupendeza,
Mwenye akili ya Bernard Shaw na umbo la Isadora Duncan.

Vijana wakasikiliza kwa upendo,
Zako simulizi.
Wakatamani,
Wengine kwa moyo,
Wengine kwa mzaha,
Kukuposa papo hapo.

Kwenye majuzuu, wachache wakazama,
Wakayatumia kwa kukupapasa,
Nje na ndani.
Wakakupenda, wakakutamani.
Wakaimba kwa sauti ya ukali na upole,
‘Azimio, Azimio. Azimio njoo,
utamu kolea, ukweli fumuka’.

Maamuzi ya pupa mchana,
Yaruka kama popo, usiku.
Vijana wakaparaganyika, wakapotea.
Wakazolewa na ari mpya, nguvu mpya na kasi mpya.
Wakalewa sumu ya ujana.
Azimio wa kale, sio Mrembo wa leo.

Ari ikazaa shari,
Nguvu zikazama mtindoni,
Kasi ikapoteza mwelekeo.
Mrembo aliyetamaniwa,
Kawa mzigo wa kuepukwa,
Vijana wakabaki, wanaduwaa

III

Mpenzi wangu, mpendwa wangu.
Unatimiza miaka hamsini,
Kwangu ni Jasmini.
Huolewi na walevi wa madaraka,
Huguswi na wanafiki wa mabadiliko.
Azimio wangu ni Jasmini, sio Yasmini.

Azimio wangu ni jasmini,
Inayopuliza madawa, palipo na maradhi,
Inayomulika nuru, palipo na giza,
Inayoamsha furaha, palipo na huzuni.
Azimio wangu ni jina jingine la Matumaini,
Batizo lake ni Azimio binti Matumaini.

Wako wanasiasa chipukizi, wanakupenda kupindukia,
Wanataka kukuvisha,
Nguo za Calvin Klein,
Marashi ya Yves Saint Laurent,
Suruali ya Wrangler,
Na viatu vya Angler.

Wakupambe, wakustaarabishe,
Wakupendekeze kwa makuadi wa soko huria,
Na mabwana zao, haramia.
Wajipatie thumni ya mahari.
No! No! No! Dhihaka ya Mpenzi wangu … No!…
Mola O’Mola wasamehe waliopotoka.

Wako wapambe, na washereheshaji,
Wapigadebe na walamba asali,
Wapigamagoti na wavuna milingoti.
Eti, wanakufananisha na binti wa Mfalme,
Wafadhiliwe kwa nyadhifa,
Waendelee kulamba asali, na kurusha bendera.

Mpenzi wangu Azimio,
Bado kuzaliwa mwingine.
Sifa zako adimu, haziokotwi mitaani,
Haziimbwi vichochoroni.
Sifa zako ni taswira yetu,
Sisi wanyonge, wavujajasho.

Sisi wanyonge, sisi wavujajasho,
Watumwa wa leo, wakombozi wa kesho.
Azimio ni matumaini yetu,
Azimio ni binti yetu, kipenzi chetu.
Hatarembeshwa, hatavishwa,
Kilemba cha ukoka.

Fanyeni mabadiliko yenu,
Igeni mabwana zenu.
Tumikieni wajasiriamali,
Rusheni bendera zenu za amali.
Tuachieni sisi, Azimio wetu,
Mkombozi wetu, mpendwa wetu.

Azimio ni historia yetu, ni urathi wetu.
Sisi, jeshi la wajasiriajasho,
Tunaapa mbele ya MamaArdhi:
Tutakupenda daima, kwa moyo wetu.
Tutakurutubisha daima, kwa jasho letu.
Tutakulinda daima, kwa damu yetu.

Mungu mbariki Azimio,
Mlaze mahali pema,
Pa mapinduzi.
Peponi,
Nchini,
Bara na visiwani.

Akipenda Jalia,
Litadumu Azimio,
Amina! tena Amina!
Amina tena na tena!

~~~

Letter to my lover

Azimio[1] my love,
I miss you, so.
The years have passed, the decades have built-up,
Time has been bolstered by rapid buses.[2]
Sages said,
Time heals,
Absolutely not! Not the pain in my heart.

When I remember, tears flow,
I cry silently,
Worried at mother Belief,
Lest she accuses me
of supposedly walking away.
There is no truth, treason is taboo

With each sunrise,
My sorrows exponentially rise.
I cannot comfort the self,
When I recall your secret inhumation,
Without an annunciation, without a proclamation,

Supposedly you got lost, in broad daylight!
I hear rumors, spread in every corner,
On the mainland and the islands,
It is said you were laid to rest on the island.
The Swahili exaggerate,
Supposedly, you were immersed at sea,
Attached to the stone of Jang’ombe

Your fake guardians
Announced without shame.
Supposedly, you were senseless,
No sense of greatness.
In this century,
The century of luxury and honey.

I hear rumors, simply here and there
They had surrounded you, threw blunt stones at you
And like a chicken they strangled you
No one read your eulogy,
No one gave a prayer on your behalf:
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un’.

I hear, I am not certain
They were present
Those who celebrated your nativity.
Raised and pampered you
Also they were present, those who sang your praise
Many by ingratiating themselves, a few by believing in you.

All yesterday’s angels and today’s devils
Turned, and hence became stone
To each other, they embraced and acclaimed
We did an excellent job
You did us an excellent job
Our teacher, our philosophical ideologue

I feel, no, I know
The one who bore you, decorated you
Proclaimed you all over the world.
Definitely sunk his head in his hands, poor him!
Definitely shook his head in saddened disbelief.
Goodness! The Guardians I sent, became ruthless to Azimio, my child.

Azimio will not be forgotten
Her ancestor will persecute you.
There will come a day where she shall rise,
Those who kicked her will be kicked.
Without hope, there is no stability,
Without justice, there is no peace.

O Swahili people
You who scaled up to Azimio’s shoulders
You rejoice in the breeze of the Indian ocean
Full of fish and resources
You sit on that branch, oblivious
What if her loved ones cut off that tree?

I still love Azimio, my child
I have preserved her picture,
Hidden inside the Bible
Should the millennials see it
They will call me a fool,
Entrenched in dead thoughts

Moses cannot read the signs of the times
Insists on archaic holy books
Each era with its book
This is the era of pacts, not of piety
‘’Goodbye Declaration’’,
’Welcome (self)-Gratification’’

II

There are the young,
And others not so young,
Pretending to be young.
Their love for you,
Confused their minds,
They journeyed.

They went far
Far from the port,
Far from the city and the towns.
Engaged themselves in a village,
Near an old town,
The village of M’katani.[3]

They celebrated your forty years.
Had you been alive, you would have been an adult,
Respectable and civil,
With a fascinating profile,
A beautiful body,
Whose mind would’ve been that of Bernard Shaw
and whose beauty would’ve is that of Isadora Duncan.

The young listened with love,
To your narrations.
And aspired,
Some deeply,
Others jokingly,
To marry you, right then

In the volumes, a few immersed
Through them they perused
You inside out.
They loved you, they desired you.
They sang fiercely and gently,
‘Azimio, Azimio. Azimio come forth,
Let your sweetness come forth,
Let the truth burst forth’.

Impetuous decisions made in the daylight,
Fly off like bats in the night.
The young disintegrated, simply got lost.
Caught in new initiatives, new power and new momentum.
They got drunk in the poison that is youth.
Model Azimio of yesterday, is not the belle of today.

Passion brought forth adversity (troubles),
Power sank out of fashion,
Momentum lost direction
The belle that was admired,
Became the burden to be avoided,
The youth looked on, lost

III

My love, my beloved.
You are turning fifty,
To me it is Jasmin.
You are not to marry the power hungry,
You’re not to be touched by hypocrites.
My Azimio is Jasmin, not Yasmin.

My Azimio is Jasmin
That blows remedies, where there is disease,
That illuminates, where there is darkness,
That awakens joy, where there is sorrow.
My Azimio is also known as Hope,
Baptised as Azimio daughter of Hope.

There are pioneering enterpreneurial politicians, who love you excessively[4]
They want to clothe you,
In Calvin Klein’s clothes,
Yves Saint Laurent perfumes,
Pants from Wrangler,
and shoes from Angler.

They would decorate you, civilise you,
To pimps of the free market, they would ingratiate you
And their husbands, pirates.
Would get some cents for dowry.
No! No! No! Mockery of my love … No! …
Lord, O’ Lord, forgive those who have gone astray.

The entourage and the celebrators,
The retinue hungry for honey,
The undistinguished and mast harvesters
Well, they liken you to the daughter of the King,
Financially funded into powerful positions,
So they keep on drinking the honey, and waving the flag.

Azimio my love,
Another is yet to be born.
Your rare qualities, are not common,
Not sung in dark alleys.
Your qualities are our image,
We the weak, the wretched of this earth

We the weak, the wretched of this earth
Slaves of today, fighters of tomorrow
Azimio is our hope
Azimio is our daughter, our beloved
Will not be decorated, will not be dressed
In a turban of grass, that hypocritically flatters.

Act your changes
Copy your masters
Work for the investors
Wave your flag of charm
Leave to us, our Azimio
Our saviour, our beloved

Azimio is our history, our inheritance
We, the army of the wretched,
We swear before mother earth:
We will love you forever, through our heart.
We will enrich you forever, through our sweat.
We will protect you forever, through our blood.

God bless Azimio
Rest thee well
In revolution
In heaven
In the country
On the Mainland and islands.

With God’s grace
Azimio will live forever
Amen! Again, Amen!
Amen, once more and once again!

Yours for ever

Issa Bin Mariam
February 2017


  1. This is an ode to the Arusha Declaration referred to as Azimio la Arusha in Swahili and Azimio in the translation. It was written in commemorating 50 years of the Arusha Declaration
  2. Reference to rapid bus transport.
  3. A village in the suburbs of Kilosa in the eastern Region of Tanzania where the author was born. On 40th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration a group of radical youth went to Kilosa to celebrate it through discussions.
  4. This is a reference to a political party led by a charsimatic young politician Zitto Kabwe which claims democratic socialism as its ideology.

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Poems for the Penniless Copyright © 2019 by Issa G Shivji. All Rights Reserved.

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