And so you come and talk to me
About “Peace, Love and Unity”
Expecting me to agree
Parroting your parody
In my poetry:
Decorating your tyranny
With bouquets of perfumed words and imagery
To drive away the stench of your treachery
And hoodwink humanity.
I refuse to enter my brain
And ask it to entertain
Even the sound of the idea, that our loves should entwine.
Because what by “Love” you define
Doesn’t tally with mine:
I love my heroes you ignore, persecute and kill,
You love my enemies who rob and enslave me still;
How, then, can there be love between you and me
When the beats of our hearts’ music are not in harmony
When our hearts pump in and out different colours of blood:
No! I refuse!
I refuse to sing your song of submission and despair
I will, instead,
Forge my own words
Which will cry out for my martyred heroes –
Past and present –
Whose blood and tears and death and toil
Gave life to the tree of the freedom of my soil,
Those who always sought
For freedom of speech and thought
And refused to bend or be bought;
Those whose faith never waned to call
For freedom to each and all,
Whose courage was their shield
And with their spear of truth they fought and killed;
Those who, with their lives, they swore
That, come what may, onward they will go
Till their humanity they restore!
Every day, every minute, I hear
The bones and blood of my heroes declare:
“There is a debt to square!”
Them, we have not forgotten
Them, we will always honour and mention.
With their memories we shall rekindle the fire
Spreading its flames of wrath and ire
To burn the roots of our oppression
And uncover your every evil intention!
How, then, can there be “Peace” between us?
How can there be peace between us
When I’ll never accept to bury the people’s anger in the tomb of my verse!
How can I forget decades and decades of my people’s suffering and pain?
Of tears and blood pouring from their limbs, like rain?
How can I ask them to sing your songs in high volume
To stifle the tormented sounds of those you torture and maim?
How can I draw veils over their eyes
To conceal and eclipse the scenes of numerous massacres?
I can still hear the echo of those dead proclaiming:
Our wounded, mutilated country
Where the dead are not dead
And the living are not living;
Sculptured in fire and blood
Where the north is barren
And the south is hard;
In death we still bleed for you
For we have decided to fear death less
And decided to love death more
Because, if by living we are dying
Why, then, not die a little more
So that we can live longer?”
Should I ignore these voices
Of these noble daughters and sons of my land?
No! I refuse!
For it is their Unity I crave for,
Shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm we go
Not with you, whom we happen to know
That you take from a lamb and give to a lion more;
You, who have torn our house in two:
Ignoring the majority and favouring the few
But, “When the sun is darkened
When the stars fall and disperse
When the mountains are made to move away,
When the camels, ten months pregnant, are left untended
When the wild beasts are brought together
When the seas are set alight
When the souls are paired (like with like)
When of the infant girl, buried alive, is asked: ‘For what crime was she slain?’
When the records are laid open
And the sky is stripped bare…”
And there is nowhere to hide,
You, who today judge, shall be the accused!
by Abdilatif Abdalla
Abdilatif Abdalla, a Kenyan political activist and a Swahili language instructor at Leipzig University Germany, is the author of Sauti ya Dhiki, Utenzi wa Maisha ya Adamu na Hawaa, Kenya Twendapi? and other literary and political classics. He translated Vàclav Havels Die Vernissage (Uzinduzi)