Thursday, January 8, 2015

"I Am an African" - Dumi Senda (2011)

Poetry is the balm which holds our souls together in times of trial. No poet captures that spirit as beautifully as Dumi Senda, who wrote this piece about returning to Africa, and the land of his birth. The video above was posted by Mr. Duma, and I believe that is his voice reading his own work, capturing every nuance of the words. The African experience of Diaspora parallels that of the Jewish people, and the poetry which comes from both of these experiences illustrate the passion, and sorrow, of two vastly different people; in separate places, and separate times; turning to the soothing resilience of poetry to make it through their ordeals.

This is the 2nd poem by Dumi Senda which I have posted on Rooftop Reviews. The words to this poem are reprinted below. Note how Mr. Senda uses sound and voices to help convey the sense of what Africa is; a collection of people, all with the same wants and needs for the basic necessities of life.

And here is that other poem "I Am Coming Home". It reflects the Jewish Diasporo more directly than "I Am an African"; which is a statement of identity. In "Coming Home" the poet reflects more on the hopes and dreams of returning to his native land; much in the way the refugees returned to Palestine at the close of the Second World War.

Mr. Senda has said of that poem; "This is a poem I have performed at many events over the years. I always find that a lot of people relate with the words, emotions and the story the poem carries and conveys. It’s a story that has told itself in millions of us, especially Africans in the 20th century with the emergence of the so-called diaspora generation. And one theme that runs common in many a sub theme is that of returning home one day or at least dreaming to!"

Here is that poem;


Now then
Do you see, now and then?
The furrows of history's whip
On my skin
And what I am to this pain attribute?

Do you heed the harrowing cries?
Of generations wallowing
Not only my being
But my seed that rebukes?

When you peek at the clouds
Are they dark enough to mirror my face?
Is there a silver line on the heaped cloud's edge?
Mocking like clowns at a fete my fate?

I am an African
Listen to the wind whistle the confirmation
And lithe trees like servants bowing before the Kings
Listen to the sounds of the seas 
Do you hear them hissing?
Listen to the valleys and the gullies
And the orchestral cricket in the night 
That will not be denied a say

I am an African
When you look at me
Why do you despair?
I'm the wave at sea drifting free
The menace in a lion's roar 
Thunder when lightning strikes
Spine of the earth's core

I'm the prance in a Zulu dance
Yes the dabble in dabbling sharks
I am African, no denying it

Ask the slow moving turtle ever so polite
Ask the leaping Nile ever so proud
Ask the trumpety moving mound, the breeze, the lion
And yes the land we ply on
Ask it in Swahili or Kinubi for 
I am in every language
I am an African.

For more about Mr. Senda, and his poetry, please visit his website at;

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