Friday, September 25, 2015

Poetry | The African

I once met a fellow African,
A graying civil servant in Blantyre in Malawi
“Muli Bwanji?” he asked.
“I am fine, thank you”, I said.
For I thought I heard him say “Muli Bulungi?”
He smiled once more, and away he walked!

I once met a fellow African,
A fine young bloke on the streets of Kigali in Rwanda;
Said his name was Gakuru,
Are you a twin? I asked,
“Yes, I am”, he said,
My relatives in Western Uganda would call him “Kakuru”.

I once met a fellow African,
A beautiful, light skinned daughter of Eve;
Walking barefoot in the Congolese town of Bukavu
Strapped to her back was a wailing baby.
“Tika Kolela”, she said, gently patting the young one’s back.
“Kulira” is the verb, for our Basoga brothers in Uganda

I once met a jolly African,
A six-foot tall South African man who said he was Zulu.
He had seen me talk on phone and heard something familiar.
What do call a girl in your language? He asked.
“Omwishiki”, I told him.
“Itshitshi” is the name in mine, he said.

I once told a fellow African,
You don’t go to Kinshasa and pray to “Ngai” because you are Kikuyu.
“Ngai”, the name you gave your God, refers to the pronoun – “Me” – in Lingala!
You don’t visit Kampala and greet your guests with “Ambolo”,
Your “Hello” in Boulou translates to male genitalia in Luganda!
“Mai” is to water in Lingala, as it is to “Mother” in Lumasaba.

From Taiwo and Kehinde in Yorubaland,
To Wasswa and Kato in Buganda;
From Madalitso and Mabvuto in Chinyanja,
To Opio and Ocen in Luo;
The special names we give our twins!
The names that remind us of our heritage!

It makes you want to scream in awe of your new discovery;
But you remember we are bound by race.
With different norms and cultures, yet still so related!
Brought together by destiny; united in our diversity.
And so we continue to smile and hug and make merry;
Every time we meet a fellow African!

© Dan A. | 2015

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