Fast Phrases


Sun bleached white door curtain invites rest,
To the hours spent on my butt now numb.
Ducks waddling defecating the backyard
Us on a mat them centimeters apart
Eight hands are expertly pinching extensions to my scalp

A humble courtyard with five rooms
A commotion of tenants and the landlord ‘Bibi Dina’
The entrance is to a sofa that’s seen better days
Dilapidated by rain & dust, with stuff threatening to crumble its sides
Close by a charcoal stove announces this is also the kitchen

The tree in the backyard speaks joy
There’s spiels hidden in its feeble leaves
Latching on the frequency of boisterous gossip
Similar to the fast phrases now escaping lips
Of the ladies transforming my kinky afro coils

One of them Bibi Dina’s daughter Hawa
Feels like eating Ugali with sautéed greens

“Yani ukisha kaanga kitunguu,
tupia nyaya kwa mbali, usiiache mboga iive sana”
Her desire is pronounced with relish
As though speaking it alone allows her to savor the meal
As I huddled by four knee covered ‘dera’ dresses
The ‘wasusi’ unveiled tales of their whole neighborhood
Hawa’s sister who is becoming an alcoholic,
Stealing beer from that Doctor’s mistress
“Yani nashukuru mwanae ana tabia nzuri,
Yeye anaenda kanisani…” Hawa adds.
Meanwhile it felt like my head was having
An acupuncture gone horribly wrong

By night fall my kinky coils were turned
Into a head full of lustrous braids in copper & golden hues
A panadol had been doused for the headache
The commotions & vigor for life from that backyard
Allowed me to know & honor another facet
Of real African women.

Ugali: A stiff porridge that’s a traditional starch staple in Tanzania.
Wasusi: Those engaged in the craft of plaiting hair.
Dera: A long tunic dress customarily worn by coastal east African women.
Yani ukisha kaanga kitunguu,
tupia nyaya kwa mbali, usiiache mboga iive sana“: “Once you fry the onion, throw in a bit of tomatoes but don’t let the veggies cook too long.”
Yani nashukuru mwanae ana tabia nzuri, Yeye anaenda kanisani...”: “At least her daughter has good manners, she goes to church…”

Link to the Italian version

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *