Susan Nalugwa Kiguli


Tell us
Did you start a war
So our women
Could be sold to public shame?
Our girls everyday
Stripped bare of humanity
And treated to voyeuristic sadistic
Machinations of deranged soldiers?

Tell us
Did you start this war
As a trade fair of evil
Displaying the different faces
Of Lucifer to a terrified populace?
Our children naked holding guns
To their chests.

Tell us now
Did you design this war
As a catalogue of atrocities
To enshrine in the libraries of our history?

Did you engineer this war
To blaze us in the flames of your feuds
Or was it so you could issue official statements?     



Grandfather’s bones are scattered
Somewhere in a field
The wind buried him.
War has violated us
Death is no longer sacred
And life has no place for mourning.

Cousin Katende was brought back
From the bloodline in a coffin
We learnt about it two years late
That he died and was buried.
His wife and child do not know us
We do not know them.

War denies us
Luxury of forgetting
Forces us to examine empty meaning.

We have left our homes to squirrels.
Conflict has removed our teeth
Bruised our gums
Cut out our tongues
Scarred our throats.

This war is angry at us
Kneading us Into a fluffy pastry
We have no breath
We are left only the fire within our souls.


Susan Nalugwa Kiguli is a Ugandan poet and literary scholar, and has been described by critic Alex Smith as"the leading intellectually astute voice in contemporary East African poetry." She is Associate Professor of Literature at Makerere University. Kiguli is a founding member of FEMRITE and was the chief convener for Celebrating Ugandan Writing: Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino at 50 held in 2016. She is the author of The African Saga and Home Floats in a Distance/Zuhause Treibt in der Ferne(Gedichte): a bilingual edition in English and German.