Ya Ujiweni na Ukaburu
(Of Homeland and Boerland)

Nikafungasha vitabu na vikaratasi
Kuelekea ukusini mwa bara langu
Nikiwa na matumaini muruwa
Matarajio tele
Nikatua OR Tambo
Zikafyatua kumkumbu za Morogoro na Kongwa
Kambi za Chris Hani, Samora Machel, Sam Nujoma
Na wimbo pia ‘chinja chinja – chinja makaburu’

II

Nikaona mengi, nikahisi uchungu tele
Nikashuhudia dhambi za kale
Zikivishwa sare za leo
Moyo unadunda, akili inashindwa
Amani inakataa kurejea
Natamani nimuone Mzee wetu Mzee Madiba
Kulikoni Mzee wa ukombozi
Nimhoji nimdadisi
Unaweza kweli kujenga ujiweni
Kwa matofali ya ukaburu?
Hatimaye namuona mzee Madiba, ndoto imetimia
Amesimama vima, amesimama imara
Kavishwa shati la kitenge, rangi ya kifalme
Vitoto na vizee vikishika mkono wake
Wanapigana picha, wakipapasa midevu yake
Sanamu mbele ya duka
Duka la bidhaa, duka la ‘Out of Africa’
Mzee wangu amebidhaifishwa
Waafrika wamefedheheshwa
Yanini kumuuliza
Sanamu haitikii, ndio jibu lenyewe

III

Wahenga husema
Hata mavingu manono
Yana cheche za radi
Yakilipuka yanaunguza
Yakitulia yanaangaza

~~~

Of Homeland and Boerland

I packed books and notes[1]
Heading south of my continent
Full of high hopes
Great expectations
I landed at OR Tambo
And out shot memories of Morogoro and Kongwa[2]
Camps of Chris Hani, Samora Machel, Sam Nujoma
And the song too: ‘rout rout – rout the boers’

II

I saw a lot, agonised a plenty
I witnessed the sins of yesterday
Dressed up in today’s suits
Heart pumping, brain defeated
Peace refuses to return
I long to see our elder, our Mzee Madiba
What’s happening O liberator
So I question and query him
Can you really build ‘home’
Using the bricks of apartheid?
Lo! Behold, I see Mzee Madiba, the dream is fulfilled
Standing still, standing strong
Dressed in Kitenge, in royal colours
The young and the old holding his hand
Taking photos, caressing his beard
A statue in front of a shop,
a merchandise shop, ‘Out of Africa’
My elder has been commercialised
Africans have been humiliated
Why? I ask him
A statue doesn’t respond, that is indeed the answer

III

Sages say
Even heavy clouds
Have sparks of thunder
burn in explosion
Shine in calmness

November 26, 2017


  1. Reference to South African apartheid. During this time the author was visiting South Africa.. This was written while sitting at the Johannesburg airport in front of the shop ‘Out of Africa’ where there is Mandela’s statute.
  2. These were places in Tanzania where liberation fighters from the South had their training camps.

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

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