Image by GovernmentZA via Flickr

 

(for Winnie Mandela)

Because you were born Winnie Madikizela but died Winnie Mandela
and you knew your real DOB was 1912 when the ANC was born
Because you knew the steel in your bones did not come from
your husband but from struggle, and you kept the struggle alive
when the dream was jailed in Robben Island, because you refused
exile so apartheid would not forget your name was revolution
because after apartheid fell the wall remained and you cried
Aluta Continua! Because no one human being
should be a nation, or a nation’s memory or conscience
because you are Winnie Mandela born Winnie Madikizela
for all that…for all that they knew that to betray the nation
they had to betray you first.

Mukoma Wa Ngugi
Cortland, NY
April 20th 2018

 

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About the Author

Mukoma 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.