Knowing we are currently in a pandemic, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o graciously wrote this poem and would like it to be shared widely. We hope it brings you comfort. The poem was written on March 23, 2020. Read it and share! 

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I know, I know,

It threatens the common gestures of human bonding

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The handshake,

The hug

The shoulders we give each other to cry on

The Neighborliness we take for granted

So much that we often beat our breasts

Crowing about rugged individualism,

Disdaining nature, pissing poison on it even, while

Claiming that property has all the legal rights of personhood

Murmuring gratitude for our shares in the gods of capital.

Oh how now I wish I could write poetry in English,

Or any and every language you speak

So I can share with you, words  that

Wanjikũ, my Gĩkũyũ mother, used to tell me:

Gũtirĩ ũtukũ ũtakĩa:

No night is so Dark that,

It will not end in Dawn,

Or simply put,

Every night ends with dawn.

Gũtirĩ ũtukũ ũtakĩa.

This darkness too will pass away

We shall meet again and again

And talk about Darkness and Dawn

Sing and laugh maybe even hug

Nature and nurture locked in a green embrace

Celebrating every pulsation of a common being

Rediscovered and cherished for real

In the light of the Darkness and the new Dawn.

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Ngugi has said that the poem is “a response to doggerel by neighbor Janet DiVincenzo, and offerings by Mukoma wa Ngugi, of Cornell University and Naveen Kishore of Seagull Publishers, Kolkata, India.” You can find Mukoma’s and Kishore’s poems here.