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!
I know, I know,
It threatens the common gestures of human bonding
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.
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.