* * *
Born in Lumumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Kadima-Nzuji has published three collections of poems: Les Ressacs (Kinshasa, 1969), Prelude a la Terre (Kinshasa, 1971), and Redire les Mots Anciens (Paris, 1977). The following poem was translated from the French by Gerald Moore.
INCANTATIONS OF THE SEA: MOANDO COAST
Shocks of dizziness
my waves, my fears of the ocean
on the salty strand of my desire.
Shocks of carnal dreams
my heaps of loosened cliff
in the bitter absence
of sap mounting to the brim of the foam.
Loosened my pollens of drunkenness
and tied and retied my seaweeds
milky way of destinies.
And I hear
stooped over the virgin insomnia
the savage cries of the sea
and the rough backwash of my being.
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Angira studied commerce at the University of Nairobi, where he edited the literature department's magazine, Busara. He has worked in Dar es Salaam for the East African Harbours Corporation and has been Africa's representative on the International Executive Committee of the World University Service. His published poetry collections include Juices, Silent Voices (1972), Soft Corals, Cascades (1979), and Tides of Time: Selected Poems (1996). In many of his poems, as in Cascades, he sides with the poor and oppressed of his home country, Kenya.
Listening to the newsreel today
Is like watching an open wound
A painful conscription from which you emerge
Shaking like a leaf.
Ninety lives perished
In the jumbo flame
And on the telly screen
A small sorrow
To encourage further viewing.
One hundred killed
In a palace attack
The caster's voice, indifferent,
Marks his distant observation tower
Cinematically passing the pain
To the listener, the viewer.
As if that is not enough
Flashes the last decapitate of the mind
Late news: Two hundred executed
By firing squad:Imagine that, ten o'clock at night!
OBBLIGATO FROM A PUBLIC GALLERY
The public has no belief
It has mocked his expectations.
The public has no hope
In the party;
The party partitioned his self
For the zombies are the partisans,
The public the humble listener.
The public has no confidence
In the "nation,"
Has nationalised collectivity into individualism.
The public does not want sirens
have idolised them into robots.
The public has no more patience
Filibustered too long with the basic needs.
The public now wants bread
At least to breed tomorrow.
The public now wants rice
At least to rise tomorrow.
The public is tired
Of following the rainbow.
The public wants to believe
That tomorrow will not be dead.
The public wants to believe
That behind tomorrow there is hope,
The conquest of man's destiny.
At least, the public wishes to sleep
In the understanding that on the morrow
He'll rise above the grave
Having conquered the long arms of contradictions.
OLD WHARF CANTO
In moments of anguish
I have even built hopes
On the glowing moon
Only, the glimmer sinks down the troubled ocean.
In moments of despair
I have incubated my eggs
In the warmth of the after-rain evaporation
Only, the warmth oozes down the troubled waters.
In moments of hope
I have visited the abandoned ship
Daring the cold solitude of the old wharves
Only, courage falls deep down the troubled waters.
What moments, shall
Idiotic diver, submerge the whirlpools
To hold up the winds for my sail?
And the troubled waters
Consume the whirlpools.
She asked me why I did such things:
I looked at the Sun, it shone at will.
She asked me when I'll do all that I should have done:
I thought of the rains that fall at will.
She asked me why I failed to fulfill my words:
The balance of payments rocked in a whirling mess.
She asked me why like the dumb I sat:
I thought of the stub of words, the blood they leave.
She asked me why I never laughed:
I thought of men who laugh in tears.
She asked me why no tango I danced:
And I recalled the cripples who'd never stood upright.
She asked me why I'd suddenly stopped to sprint like the hart:
I looked down the west and saw the sun sink slowly down.
She asked me why I was happy no more:
Across the sky I saw the rainbow arc
Across the road a mirage shone and quickly fled
And I recalled the dreams of the previous night.
She demanded the best the world could give.
And I recalled the rabble who had no vote.
She asked me why my life had rolled down the slopes
And I recalled the many tombs in the deserted vale.
SYMPHONY FROM THE BALCONY
Sometimes I sit in the balcony
And watch the rivers of the world
Flow down the many deltas
Impatiently awaited by the ocean deeps
Sometimes I watch
The young birds of the air
Leave their parents to make a living
But all in a pair, face to the world
When I long for peace
Mind hovers with the quails
Knowing too well
However tired the wings no landing on tree
When therefore I gather my selves
Scattered like the rivers on land
I long for their waters
To lead to the sea
And we all wish
That after these travels
All scattered feelings
On that ocean, the livid.
Copyright © 1999 Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved.