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.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a prolific, award-winning Kenyan writer, poet and academic who writes in English and Gikuyu. He has produced several dozens of novels, plays, essays and children's books. He is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.
The above poem "Dawn of Darkness" is a response to "Doggerel" by neighbor Janet DiVincenzo as well as "In Our Times" by Mukoma wa Ngugi of Cornell University, and "Another Twilight" by Naveen Kishore of Seagull Publishers, Kolkata, India (included below).
In Our Times
By Mukoma wa Ngugi
Dying is now truly lonely
no loved ones by your side
or at your wake
In the crematorium
a lone technician cries
Out in the cemetery
all stand six feet apart
to your six feet under
(yes, terrible puns are fact now)
But believe this love
like your god does embrace us all.
Mukoma Wa Ngugi is a Kenyan author, poet and academic. He is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership. His works include the novels Mrs. Shaw, Black Star Nairobi and Nairobi Heat, two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. His novel Unbury Our Dead With Song about competing Tizita musicians is forthcoming from Cassava Republic Press (Fall of 2020).
By Naveen Kishore
with nothing left to lose except
except its silver sheen
the night waits
at a courteous distance
for us to complete our conversation
in utter silence
will we meet again?
meet perhaps at another removed twilight
Naveen Kishore is a publisher, poet and artist who founded Seagull Books in 1982, a radical publishing program in the arts and media focusing on drama, film, art and culture studies. Seagull Books has published some of the most important revered writers in twentieth and twenty-first century world literature.