Reply to Ng’wanza Kamata

Rafiki yangu Ng’wanza
Unatoka Mwanza?
Sawa sawa mafakiri
lakini sio wakiri!
Ni wakili
mwenye maadili
kapingana na majangili
wakiwemo wafadhili.

Ukombozi sio lelemama
Huhitaji kuchachama.
Akina baba na mama
wote kwa pamoja
tujenge umoja.

Umoja wa wanyonge
tushinde unyonge.
Potelea mbali tonge
la asali au donge

Donge la dola
uniepushe mola.
Kumradhi nilale
na walewale.

Walewale walalahoi
Pari huitwa poloi.
Sitaki kulala heri
Hata mkinihonga fairy.

Ewe Kamata,
Epuka na matata
ya vibwanyeye na bwanyenye.
Eti hufarakana!

Zingatia vita
vita vya tabaka
sio ya Kabaka
wala kubaka.

Sisemi nimefika.
Sisemi sitafika.
Safari ndefu
hainipi chechevu.

Mola apende
Kufika tutafika.


Reply to Ng’wanza Kamata

My friend Ng’wanza
You are from Mwanza?
It is indeed the wretched
But not ‘wakiri’[1]
It is ‘wakili’
With the morals
Of fighting the scoundrels
Together with the benefactors.

Emancipation is not a dinner party
It needs resistance.
Women and men,
All together in solidarity
We build our unity.

A unity of the deprived
That fights deprivation.
To hell with their cake
Of cream and honey

Those state (c)offers
Almighty help me evade them.
I shan’t sleep
With the masters.

Those same penniless
In Paris they are called poloi
I do not want to sleep peacefully
Even if you bribe me with a fairy

Kamata listen,
Avoid the fracas
Of the petty bourgeois and the bourgeois
As if they differ!

Beware of wars
Class wars
Not that of Kabaka
Nor of the violations.

Not that I have arrived
Nor that I won’t arrive.
The journey is long
It frightens me not.

Whether God likes it,
Or not,
We shall arrive.

January 2007

  1. The word ‘wakiri’ may have various meanings. First it could be that the poet used it to differentiate ethnicity since there are certain ethnic groups that replace ‘r’ with ‘l’ and vice versa. Hence ‘wakiri’ could be ‘wakili’ – ‘lawyer’ which happens to be Issa’s profession. The other meaning is derived from the verb ‘kukiri’ – to acknowledge, hence it could be that Issa is one who ‘acknowledges’ the poor. We chose the term ‘man of the wretched’ as we felt it carries both meanings.


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

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