Who am I

Who am I?

Am I a who or a whom?

Or both or neither – a which, where, why, when, how?

Who am I?

Am I the Italy in my three piece

That shines me off in places revered?

Or am I the Istanbul in this leather

That sparkles in the hot afternoon meeting?

Am I the Sinai that massages my mind

In sleep and the day when I walk

Or am I the sandy Mecca that caresses my heart

With fears and joys of the world and beyond?

Am I the Queen that oozes from my tongue

And Her Majesty’s ways I learnt two decades?

Or am I the untouched sire of the roots

From my legs deep into the soil?

Am I the rich that roves in wealth

Smiling lovers and hugs and kisses?

Or am I the random accident of nature –

What I hold did never make me?

Am I what I’m said to be

The impression of a mask never unworn –

Or am I that which I think that I am

The unacceptable things and those I accept?

Am I the making of kin and neighbour

The things I had and those I longed for?

Or am I a package completed before that birth

The angel or devil I cannot now change?

Am I my deeds of yesterday or today?

But what of tomorrow that is itself a difference?

Or am I what is done to me

For everyone is a slave to fate

Am I me or I am I

Or myself in thought and deed

Or am I nation and what it wants

And I stand for its ills and and flaws?

Am I that or this or something other

Unknown and unknown to be unknown?

Or am I what there never was, is, nor to be

Not something nor nothing?

Am I?

Do I?

Or this is a useless dream

That never was to be dreamt?


Ewe wangu zamzama, mrembo mwenye nidhama
Pokea zangu salama, lizopima kwa mizama
Ndipo utulie mama, kama maji zamzama
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekuumba Karima

Ewe wangu mwana mwali, meno meupe ya wail
Mwenye sifa za jamali, bila shaka wala swali
Sura imekukubali, akhera tangu awali
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekuunda Kamali

Ewe wangu wa moyoni, niweke mwako rohoni
Wenginewe siwaoni, hawanifiki machoni
Tangu tuwe utotoni, hadi siku za usoni
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekutunga Manani

Ewe wangu mwenye wema, thabiti usotetema
Wa vitendo na kusema, tabia iso kilema
Mtiifu wa mapema, sifa zako ninasema
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekuchonga Rahima

Ewe wangu wa harusi usiyejua matusi
Usothamini fulusi, ulobobea durusi
Naomba ino ruhusi nikusifu kwa kirusi
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekuunga Kudusi

Ewe wangu wa milele, usiyependa kelele
Usiyefanya kejele, wala fujo za kengele
Nitakuenzi milele, kaburini hata mbele
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekhulonga Nyasaye

Ewe wangu wa fahari, wa mambo nzima bahari
Kifua chako habari, na kiuno machachari
Wa maungo yenye ari, yalo nguvu za ghubari
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekutanda Jabari

Ewe wangu wa nadhifa, usafi ni yako sifa
Nimezuru mataifa, huna wa yako sharifa
Unazua taarifa, ajabu kimataifa
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekujenga Latifa

Ewe wangu zamzama, basi kwako ninazama
Nomba uje nitazama, kwa pendo la kila zama
Bila wewe naungama pweke zitaniandama
Ewe wangu Zamzama, Amekuumba Rahima


Other hopes
Why do you grieve, woman
When the rawness of the night is still solid?
Are those water furrows on your forehead?
Tell me why your chin knows no dryness
With heavy flows threatening a flood
Reddened eyes seen all but sleep
Yet no grave lies in the face of your hut.

What is so good, woman
With holding your cheek so long?
Sometimes pretending to
Do I see the pegs that pin you there
Like a drying squirrel skin?
Withdrawn from the very fraternity
Which you enliven everyday
For being the ideal laughing stock.

Look at the wailing children
Whose yells are no less than their mother’s
Making an off-key almost-perfect performance
In the youth of the night
Watering the jiggers on the mud carpet of the hut
Urine, saliva, mucus, hot tears
Or is it your favourite pastime to cry?

For three days the table has been dry
Unused like your husband’s forgotten finger
Were you destined for a cold house
Whose coldness firewood cannot strangle?
Woman, now tell me
Is it you drink from the cup of a curse?

Oh yes, woman!
Persist in hope against itself
Patience pays passionately
One day the table shall be live
And the stomachs
And the children sleeping silently
And no cold in a hut
But, woman, my fear is
Earth shall have returned to itself.