I am thinking now!
The first line was difficult to translate as it is the heart of this poem. In a country governed by an elite few, where many live in fear, thought is a radical act – to be thinking in this moment is to be silently rebelling against the system.
In Ida’s literal translation people on the street corners were screaming, but we all agreed that was too extreme – ranting and raving were tried before we settled on babble, which suggests that mixture of anger and panic. Unusually amongst Swahili poets, Shivji writes in free verse, but line endings still often rhyme and words echo off each-other – we tried to mimic this in evaporated/dissolved/fled and the alliteration on D.
Clare Pollard, Poet-facilitator