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!

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 Country!

Our wounded, mutilated country

Where the dead are not dead

And the living are not living;

Our Country!

Sculptured in fire and blood

Where the north is barren

And the south is hard;

Our Country!

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

London

October 1988

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)

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