Buriani Mzee Duncan: Kwa Nini?
(Farewell Mzee Duncan: Why?)

Mzee wangu, Mzee Duncan.
Miye siyo mtunzi mashuhuri, wa shairi.
Miye siyo mwandishi mahiri, wa riwaya.
Kwa kuomboleza kifo cha mzee wangu,
Sihitaji kuwa msanii.
Moyo wangu unadunda, unaimba.

Sauti anapepesuka,
Shairi anasusiya,
Riwaya anasononeka,
Wimbo anagomba.

Wasanii wamekuja juu,
Wote kwa sauti wananikaripia:
“Wee fidhuli wee,
Usitufedheheshe,
Usituaibishe.
Eti, unajifanya mtoto wa Mariam,
Kana kwamba unamiliki jina-Issa.”

Potelea mbali,
Wasanii na usanii wao.
Leo nitaimba!
Nitajigamba, mimi Issa bin Mariam.
Nitaimba kuomboleza kifo cha Mzee wangu,
Mzee Duncan Getakanoda.

Miongo mitatu iliyopita,
Tulionana, ukiwa kada wa chama,
Huko Kigamboni,
Chuo cha Kivukoni,
Kitovu cha itikadi,
Itikadi ya ujamaa.

Itikadi ukaisoma.
Ukaipapasa kwa undani,
Ukaipindua juu chini,
Ukaibua lukuki ya maswali,
Maswali yasiyo na majibu.

Kwa nini watu wangu, Wadatoga,
(Eti huitwa Wabarabaig!)
Kwa nini, hutekwa ardhi yao?
Kwa nini, hufa na mifugo yao?
Kwa nini, utu wao hudhalalishwa?

Mashamba yao hutaifishwa,
Mashamba yao hubinafsishwa.
Haki zao huponyokwa.
Kwa nini?
Kwa nini, binamu zangu Wamaasai,
Hukosa elimu, afya na maji?
Kwa nini wajomba zangu Wanyaturu,
Hubaguliwa, huadhibiwa kijumla?
Kwa nini?

Ukatembea na miguu,
Ukapanda mabasi,
Ukakodisha magari,
Ukaenda Dodoma.
Ukaonana na viongozi wa chama,
Heshima zao hazikutetemesha.
“Kwa heshima na taadhima,
Nawaulizeni, siwadadisi, nawauliza tu:
Kwa nini watu wangu huteswa?”

Ukapanda mabasi, na matreni,
Ukafika bandari ya salama.
Ukamwuliza Waziri Mkuu,
Ukuu wake haukukutisha.
Ukamuliza: Kwa nini?

Ukawalilia mawakili,
Mashauri ukayafungua,
Ushupavu ukauonyesha.
“Mashamba yetu ya ngano,
Mheshimiwa Jaji,
Yamefukiwa na buldoza,
Makazi yetu yamechomwa,
Jamii zetu zimesambaratishwa.
Je, hii ni haki?”
Kwa nini?

Ushindi wa kimahakama,
Ukawa kilemba cha ukoka.
Ukakamatwa na polisi,
Ukawekwa ndani,
Ukafunguliwa mashtaka,
Eti, umediriki kudai haki za watu wako!

Mwanafunzi makini,
Mzee Ducan kajifunza,
Somo la awali:
“Naam. Wakubwa ni wakubwa!
Maslahi yao siyo yangu,
Maslahi yangu siyo yao.”

Akajiunga na HAKIARDHI,
Umoja ni nguvu, chombo ni muungano.
Mnyonge hana kabila,
Hana rika,
Hana jinsia,
Ana unyonge tu.

Hukuchoka, hukukata tamaa.
Vijana ukawashawishi,
Wazee ukawaunganisha.
Mapambano siyo lelemama,
Umoja wetu, ndiyo mkuki wetu.
Chombo chetu, ndiyo ngao letu.
Buriani mzee wangu,
Mzee Duncan Getakanoda.
Kwa moyo mzito,
Anakuaga Issa bin Mariam.
Nenda salama, upumzike mahali pema.

Somo lako tutalifundisha,
Kamwe hatutalisahau.
Mapambano ni marefu,
Undani wake mjielewe,
Upana wake mjitambue.
Kamwe msisalimu amri,
Mbele ya ukatili, ukandamizaji na dhuluma.
Dhuluma ni adui,
Adui wa Wana wa Adamu.

~~~

Farewell Mzee Duncan: Why?

My elder, Mzee Duncan.[1]
I am not a famous poet.
I am not a renowned novelist.
To mourn the passing of my old man,
I do not need to be an artist.
My heart beats, my heart sings

The voice trembles,
The poem abandons,
The novel is tormented,
The song reprimands.

The artists have risen,
Loudly, they scold me:
“You arrogant one,
Do not embarrass us,
Do not shame us.
Pretending to be the child of Mariam,
As though you own the name – Issa.”

Forget it,
The artists and their art.
Today I will sing!
I will proclaim, I am Issa son of Mariam.
I will sing to mourn the death of my old man,
Mzee Duncam Getakanoda.

Three decades ago,
We met, whilst a party cadre,
At Kigamboni,
The Kivukoni college,
The centre of ideology,
The Ujamaa ideology.

You read that ideology.
Caressed it from within,
Turned it upside down,
And came up with a multitude of questions,
Questions that have no answers

Why are my people, Datoga,
(supposedly called Barabaig!)
Why, is their land confiscated?
Why, do they die with their livestock?
Why, is their humanity humiliated?

Their farms nationalised,
Their farms privatised,
Their rights seized.
Why?
Why do my cousins the Maasai,
Get no education, health and water?
Why do my uncles, the Nyaturu,
Get discriminated, collectively punished?
Why?

You walked on foot,
Rode on buses,
Hired cars,
Went to Dodoma.
Met party leaders,
You did not tremble at their exalted status:
“With all due respect, and protocol,
I ask you, I do not question you, I simply ask you:
Why are my people persecuted?”

You went on buses, and trains,
And arrived at the port of peace.
And asked the Prime Minister,
Not scared by his primeness.
You asked him: Why?

You beseeched lawyers,
Solicited advice, opened cases
Showing bravery.
“Our wheat farms,
Your Honour,
Have been flattened by the bulldozer,
Our homes burnt,
Our communites dispersed.
Is this right?”
Why?

The court victory,
Was idle flattery.
You were caught by the police,
Thrown into cell.
Charged,
For daring to fight for the rights of your people!

A keen student,
Mzee Duncan learnt,
The first lesson:
“Yes, the powerful are powerful!
Their interests are not mine,
My interests are not theirs.”

He joined HAKIARDHI,
Unity is strength, organisation is the tool.
The wretched have no clan,
Have no age peers,
Have no gender,
They only have deprivation.

You did not tire, you did not give up,
You mobilised the youth
You united the elders.
Struggle is not a tea-party,
Unity is our spear,
Organisation our shield.
Farewell my old man,
Mzee Duncan Getakanoda.
With a heavy heart,
Issa son of Mariam says farewell.
Go well, rest in peace.

We shall teach your lesson,
Never shall we forget it.
The struggle is long,
Its essence, we must know,
Its expanse, we must recognise.
Never surrender,
To injustice and oppression.
Injustice is the enemy,
The enemy of humankind. [June 3, 2008]


  1. Duncan was a land activist working together with the author in the Land Rights and Resources Institute (HAKIARDHI) founded by the author together with his two friends Georgios Hadjivyanis and Wilbert Kapinga.

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

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