In Prison (Kizuizini)
Hungry and in rags
treated like an animal
Beaten and insulted
silenced as though Satan walked past
no chance to rest
no chance to sleep
no chance to think
What possible mistakes could I have made
to deserve this torment?
Falcon flying in the sky
you know what's in my heart
Tell me: where rice plants wave in the wind
glinting in the sun
does my mother still stand and wait for me?
Does she still turn her gaze
towards me in prison?
Dear mother, I will come home
I will come back even in death
Even if my corpse is cut
into thousands of pieces
I will come home
Passing through this wall
going through another like a spirit
I will come home, dear mother...
even in death.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Katriina Ranne
The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop
We've translated two poems by Alamin Mazrui which, in English, have the title 'In Prison' even though, in Swahili, they have different titles, 'Kizuizini' (this poem) and 'Kifungoni' (the other). However, both words are best translated as 'In Prison', so we've decided to leave them and to distinguish between them by appending the Swahili title to the version in English.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2013