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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Changing continents in midstream

Letter to a Friend ( Marjorie Oludhe MacGoye )
Changing continents in midstream
Is likely to create mild upheaval:
There is no need to lament loudly, like a woman
Chasing a runaway sheep in a tight skirt.

Some of us, I admit,
Have a little pocket Jesus, like a jok
Under a stone to keep their bearings right
But this, my king-sized Lord,  works differently.

He was not ashamed
Of being noticed,  brown, hook-nosed, acclaimed
For the wrong reasons, for the same ridiculed,
Exposing us to scorn and certainty.

He made me tough,
White, tender-hearted, insensitive, able to
Survive brass models of the Eiffel Tower
and the Eurovision Song Contest.
 . . . .

You must select
Gold from a continent, staggering under the weight
In a country where you do not know your friend's mother
Or his investment.

If you would take it
Easy, my brother, you would hear women weeping
Not only for being black, see freedom seized
Not only from being black, fear white drums beating.

There is exploring
And there is limiting, bearing forth and burying,
There is fear and there is being at home, and being
My sufficient self.  Why should I be ashamed?

This excerpt if from a poem in Luke’s introduction to East African Poetry text, one of the few written by a transplanted mujungu, a  European woman who marries into a Ugandan family.  I like the boldness of it, claiming a king-sized Jesus not a guiding charm, calling on a Lord who was also ridiculed (mujungu mujungu how ah you????), asking to be made tough, white, and tender-hearted, selecting the gold from this continent to which we have jumped, to make a home.

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