My Mother in Three Photographs

Her face looks out
her sexuality electric
in a mini dress and sheer satin stockings
the girls of the 1960s
beautiful beyond belief.
She is looking through the camera
like her space is here and beyond
enchanting and enchanted
by the times when the dreams of freedom were young
the fortunes of Uganda
hot and sizzling.

My mother in the 1970s
More sombre but her skin
Still flawless
The abrasive years gentle on her youth.
Her body wrapped in a long nylon dress
stopping her ankles and
full sleeves touching her wrists
hooded sorrow in her posture
the flowing dress
is not because
she is a widow (which is by government action)
but it is a government decree.
Her magnificence and elegance
Seems to support the given name of the dress
*Amin nvaako.

My mother in the 1990s
neat short hair
luring in its intricate curls.
She wears a **busuuti
a sign of the times
a return home, a finding of
uncertain peace
a maturing of a woman and nation
an endorsement of a recognition of the troubles
she has weathered
a sitting down to count her losses and blessings
and a hand over of the future.

*Amin Nvaako means Amin let me be or Amin leave me alone
**Busuuti is a long and colorful traditional dress


Link to the Italian translation

One Comment Add yours


    “Amin nvaako” I can hear the harsh and repression in the voice. So beautiful a poem. As I read, before listening to Dr. SK reading, I was transported into my father’s old album, those girls of his days in beautiful dresses, designs of which have come back on market. Then the song he sang to me about a girl he loved (we actually don’t talk so freely with Dad distanced by my step mother in childhood but this he told me and sang), “Bawe come back to me” for a girl who had left him called Bawemuka. Mhm what am I even saying? I love the poem for it connects well to the brutal leadership of Amin and displays to us those virgin moments before the post colonial turmoil.

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