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March 2013

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Well, here’s a poem I wrote some time ago for a school poetry competition:

The little girl stares at me, smiling,
Never aging, never miserable.
Unchanged, she is suspended
In Time.
I hear stories of her often-
Her voice is gruff,
Her tongue is sharp,
Her cheekiness unrelenting.
‘Futi bra ya mainini Manyara
yakadgiwa negonzo!’,
She once told guests,
Speaking of the woman’s bra,
Bitten by a rat, as she sat
In the very room,
Blushing though not red.
Always I laugh,
Always I am in wonder.
Her voice was gruff,
Her tongue was sharp,
Her cheekiness unrelenting.
‘What happened?’, you wonder.
She grew up and changed.
She crossed the ocean,
Leaving country and home.
She yearned to be British, to fit in,
The transition was not easy-
Change never is.
Though she learned English,
She herself, never would be.
She fought with boys,
Ridiculed by name
and height,
But this was just a phase.
In the end she learned value
In her heritage,
But time spent wishing
She was someone else,
Has made her a stranger,
A tourist in her Motherland.
I am not the little girl-
My voice is alto,
My tongue more practiced-
Still my cheekiness will forever
Be Unrelenting.
Perhaps the little girl inside
Will always remain,
With me…
By Mary-Ann Mufunde