The poem is a tribute to the recently concluded Kampala International Theatre Festival.
The audience must say amen
Amen to the power of men and women
Who come to the stage and undress themselves
To the men and women who craft words
That loosen hearts and open the drips of tears
For we have refused to be fishers of men,
We that cast our nets far and deep for tropical fish
In rivers of gin and tonic
Humming “malaika” as our brains run
To our groins.
Allos! Remember the story of Carlos Bulosan
You’re not the only monkeys around
Monkeys must resist the colours they’re named
The yellows, browns and the blacks.
We suffer in the interrogation rooms of the stage
As we come face to face with the things
We try to escape
And when the lights fade and the room goes dark
Don’t forget our struggle comes from a place called black.
Kawuna! You’re it!
You are not immune to the madness of life;
Our stories are intertwined
In folk tales, documentaries
And nightmares our minds omit!
Nightmares of court officials staring in our faces
Men formerly heroes
Now the most wretched of the earth,
Turning a blind eye
To the log in our eyes.
We’re the ones with two faces
Saying this then saying that
Black skins white masks
Grunting like citizens
On Orwell’s farm.
Don’t say you don’t want to see
The surrogates that fight to be free,
From chains and lies
That hide under our skin,
Convincing we’re born like this.
Stuck and unstuck between life and death
Berserk with madness as our time runs out,
Recounting seconds and micro seconds
Stopping to think the gift that is life
While in the greys of places like Barzakh.
Theatre is the mourning sun
We must die as the living with joyful eyes
Hope must be the thing that thrives
After joy and pain,
Hope must survive.