Kenya: Letter to My Nephew (For Ken Saro-Wiwa) | Mukoma Wa Ngugi

The sun is locked in evening, half shadow

half light, hills spread like hunchbacks over

plains, branches bowing to birth of night.

It’s an almost endless walk until the earth


opens up to a basin of water. You gasp

even the thin hairs on your forearm breathe,

flowers wild, two graves of man and wife

lying in perfect symmetry, overrun by wild


strawberries. Gently you part the reeds,

water claims the heat from the earth, you

soak your feet, then lie down hands planted

into the moist earth. You glow. Late at night


when you leave, you will fill your pockets

with wet clay. But many years from now,

you will try to find a perfect peace in many

different landscapes, drill water out of memory


to heal wounded limbs of the earth. You

will watch as machines turn your pond

inside out, spit the two graves inside out

in search of sleek wealth. Many years


later, after much blood has been lost and your

pond drained of all life you will wonder, shortly

before you become the earth’s martyr, what

is this thing that kills not just life but even death?

 

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, is the son of renowned African writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Born in Evanston, Illinois, he grew up in Kenya and is the author of Black Star Nairobi (2013), Nairobi Heat (2011), and Hurling Words at Consciousness (2006). He was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009, and the Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition, in 2010.  He teaches at Cornell University.

Culled From: http://mukomawangugi.com/

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

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