This is one of Kezilahabi's poems from his most recent collection, published in 2008. It's clear from the imagery and language that he's writing poetry for his people. He addresses the subject of floods from their perspective, and demonstrates his solidarity with their plight through his stated aim at the beginning of the poem to make poetry out of the lowliest and most abject of materials.

The ambiguity that exists in English when we say we're writing 'on something' - i.e. that this can mean either 'about' something, or 'on top of' - exists in Swahili, so we were able to convey the playfulness in the original that the 'poetry of rubbish will be sung / on [about or on top of] the wounds of farmers' and thereafter, throughout 'Floods'.

We translated the Swahili word 'kanga' as 'scarves', though that's strictly not correct. However, we felt that leaving 'kanga' in the poem and glossing it would lead to complications because, of course, in English, 'kanga' conjures up kangaroos - an image we wished to avoid!



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Beautiful poem! Thanks for letting me read it.

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