by Alamin Mazrui

Either you go
through this door
or you don't.

If you go through
there's a danger
of forgetting your name.
That's the problem.

Everything looks at you twice
Ashamed, you look away,
you let it happen.
          You can't look for a fight.

If you don't go through
perhaps you'll have a good life.

you'll defend your ideals
you'll carry on with your work
you'll die a hero in your country

but perhaps many things will pass you by
you'll be blind to many things
at what cost? I don't know.

The door itself
can't make your decision
it's just a door!

The literal translation of this poem was made by Katriina Ranne

The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop


  1. October 29th, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Naomi Kavyu says:

    Reading the literal translation just reminds me of my mother!

    Love love love//

  2. September 13th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Ndungi says:

    Where is Alamin these days. I have not seen him since 1992. such a long time ago. Great to read his poems. He is also a playwright. He wrote kilio cha haki.


  3. October 26th, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Anne Chappel says:

    thank you for this site and the translations. Wish there were more Swahili poets & poetry here. I have enjoyed reading them in English since my Swahili is so poor!