Ndugu yangu Abdilatifu
(Abdilatifu my brother)

Ndugu yangu Abdilatifu
Eti mie si profesa
Mie ni mimi ‘Latifu
Tena wa M’basa

Kwani maprofesa hufua dafu?
Wao ni wanywaji wa madafu
Wenzi wao walafu
Wanywa baridi moja na ndafu

Rafiki yangu ‘Latifu
Unywaji na ulafi si wa kwake wasifu
Sio mmoja kati yao
Awaachia maprofesa hayo

Mwenzie ni profesa
Ingawa sio wa M’basa
Eti ni profesa wa umma
Mpinzani wa akina Zuma

Rafiki yangu ’Latifu
Kuna profesa na profesa
Sio wote wa M’basa
Mmoja wao ni nduguyo.

~~~

Abdilatifu my brother

Abdilatifu[1] my brother
Claims not to be a professor
I am just ‘Latifu
From Mombasa

Why, can professors skin a coconut?[2]
No, they can only drink coconut water
And their greedy peers
Drinkers of cold beer and roast meat

My friend ‘Latifu
Drinking and greed are not of his ilk
He is not amongst them
He leaves that to professors

His Comrade is a professor
Although not from Mombasa
A professor of the masses
Opponent of the likes of Zuma

My friend ’Latifu
There are professors and professors
Not all from Mombasa
One of those is your brother.


  1. Abdulatif Abdullah, a Kenya poet and activist
  2. This is a pun and a play of the word dafu – coconut water

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

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