Monday, August 20, 2007


Goree Island.
Isle Goree, Senegal.
How shall I return to Goree after a decade?
Should I walk over the waters like Peter?
But pray who calls me here?
Should I fly like a bird and cry?
But I have no wings.
Perhaps I never left Goree.
My heart I left there in the sand, a decade ago.
It was buried in salty tears. I still cry.

This is the door of no return.
They showed it to me.
How do I return to Goree today?
My Sister from Zambia,
sings with me a dirge.
My Malawi Sister,
Call our Brother from Uganda.
And the others from the world over:
Cuba, Japan,Turkey, Swizerland, Mexico, oh America!,
Bengal, China, and all the others there.
Tell them we must better doors make.
The doors of return.

The smoothness of the boat,
I fail to feel, Only nails I see.
How shall we return to Goree?
How meditation en masse?
I speak to myself quietly:
Senghor asked for their forgiveness,
Is it granted?, My Djibuti Brother cries on my shoulder,
The women are hiding tears in happy beads,
They are hiding blood in colour and cloth,
The men haul the boats,
They hide their sweat of blood in their clothes.
And all in their song and smile
Dress their love
Children cry as they wish,
Do they see slavery everywhere?

Yesterday, you saw the people dance and drum.
Who dared imprison their joy and cuff their hands and feet?
We still ask questions as we admire their art,
Let’s buy them to keep our sweat of blood away.
How shall we return to Goree?
We leave through the door,
The door of no return.
Stand with me and sing,
Nkosi s’kelele Africa!
Sail on.

Have you now sailed to Robben Island?
It’s Mandela’s birthday soon; eighty-nine.
Do we forgive them too?
What say you Shaka Zulu?
There is no freedom without tearing of skin?
Is freedom still coming tomorrow?
I want to go home.My heartaches.
Let me fly home. Like a bird.

How shall I walk past Freedom Corner?
Here in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park?
Here our old mothers stripped naked.
To curse the oppressor who stole freedom,
Mothers wanted their prisoner sons back,
Their daughter showed how to skin freedom,
Skin it, till you reach the kernel- Wangari.
Do we forgive the slavery that continues?
Why so many doors of no return still?
Trafficking here on Koinange Street?
Here on Uhuru Highway?
Shout: Uhuru and let me sing!
Am in love with freedom!
Must I my skin give?

1 comment:

  1. This poem is to the memory of my second visit to Goree, in the company of writers during the PEN International Congress and friends: Maureen Sulumba (Malawi) Cornelius Gulere (Uganda) Malia Solilo (Malawi) Tarik Gunersel (Turkey), Hashi (Djibouti) man and wife from Bengal, and others. I met Aisha who sold beads and cloth to us.

    Dakar 07072007, Saturday.