*A Poem for the Black Lives Matter Movement

For black men and women, these are no ordinary things:
A broken taillight, cigarette, cell phone, a spoon,
pocket knife, hoodies in 85 degree heat, skittles, a toy
sword, a toy gun in a children’s park, a toy rifle in a store

that sells toy rifles, a black wallet — and most lethal of all,
your black body. And driving with a four year old in the back
seat, your love in the front seat does not draw the picture
of a family going out to dinner, or coming home

after visiting grandparents, or just out for a drive to rock
your child to sleep. Running, jogging, or even just sitting
are no casual events. When the siren calls each ordinary
thing turns into chance, life or death waiting.



About the Author:

Mukoma-wa-NgugiMukoma Wa Ngugi is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of the novels Mrs. Shaw,Black Star Nairobi, Nairobi Heat, and a book of poetry, Hurling Words at Consciousness. Logotherapy (poetry) is forthcoming. He is the co-founder of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature and co-director of the Global South Project – Cornell.   In 2015 he will be a juror for the Writivism Short Story Prize and the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature.  He is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Rise of the African Novel and the English Metaphysical Empire: Language, Politics and Identity that looks at the African literary tradition.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “No Ordinary Things | by Mukoma Wa Ngugi | African Poetry” Subscribe

  1. Gathoni wa Wairura 2016/07/08 at 5:53 pm #

    Thank you bwana Mukoma wa Ngugi, for this poem so beautifully put together for such a sad reality. I pray for the day that a black man will not have to be deemed guilty until proven innocent, heck! he doesn’t even get a chance to prove his innocence. #blacklivesmatter

  2. India 2016/07/19 at 3:48 am #

    Thanks for the insihgt. It brings light into the dark!

  3. nhlanhla 2016/07/27 at 7:07 am #

    well summarised,we ought not to forget our beloved brothers.

  4. Chiamaka 2016/08/05 at 4:06 pm #

    “-and most lethal of all, your black body.” That hit me hard. Well written!

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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