A poem in Kiswahili, addressed to men, to mark the end of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and World Poetry Day

respect women

Mwajidai nguvu mnazo, mwawatenga na majukumu

Mwadhani hawana uwezo, mwajilimbikizia utaalamu

Hamwoni lolote tatizo, mkiwabagua kila sehemu

Badilisheni yenu mawazo, akina mama muwaheshimu

 

Akina mama muwaheshimu, wapeni yao thamana

Waachieni nafasi muhimu, wapate na wao kufana

Uongozini wasiwe adimu, hakuweka hivyo Rabana

Acheni wenu udhalimu, wenu ubabe hauna maana

 

Wenu ubabe hauna maana, madhara yake tumeyaona

Kupenda vita na kupigana, hamwoni aibu kuuana

Ubinadamu hamnao tena, uhai mmeutoa thamana

Na mnapozidi kuzozana, mateso ni watoto na mama

 

Mateso ni watoto na mama, dunia yetu yaangamia

Mwawabaka hamna heshima, wamechoka kuvumilia

Rejesheni akili mapema, waepusheni na kuumia

Kuwawezesha ni kitu cha wema, wenu uovu muuacheni

 

Wenu uovu muuacheni, watoto mimba kuwatunga

Watakiwa wawe shuleni, siyo ndoa za kijinga

Hizo tamaa mziacheni, na ukatili kuupinga

Akina mama muwaenzini, msiwatenge msiwatese

It’s been more than 10 years since I last wrote a poem in Kiswahili, and I’m glad this day inspired me to come up with these lines. When, in the morning, the Kiswahili Unit of the UN Radio asked if I had any poem in Kiswahili (they know I’ve been writing poems in English), I realised all the poems I had written in the past were political and thus, inappropriate. I had almost given up doing anything for them, but I got my inspiration, somehow, and it took me just about 45 minutes to write this poem. It was rather difficult, considering the style in Kiswahili is a bit different from the English poetry I’ve been accustomed to over the years. Where iambic pentametre would give a poem in English its rhythm, in Kiswahili, that only does half the job in a line. My attempt to get an exact metrical symmetry also proved a tough task, and you will notice that some lines don’t really have ten syllables on either side of the break. Still, I enjoyed writing it, and I’ll be writing some more poems in Kiswahili from now on.

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