fika vontaji

Sometimes I wonder what it means to be a woman, sheng’* speaking, running around the world (often enough that I thought to write the poem below {about Brazilian/Paulista hospitality} within my first days of being in São Paulo but didn’t, unfortunately- for the poem).

The question of what language to use when I write is one that is constantly on my heart and mind (see here) but more about that later- perhaps. Is this the internationalisation of sheng’ that Juliani was talking about – “siachi mpaka sheng’ iwe international language” (I won’t stop till sheng’ is an international language). I smiled with the confidence- cockiness- and said the line along with him but wondered how that could ever be.

But. “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”**

‘Fica a vontade!’ me disseram- walinishow,
Toka siku ya first ka wimbo,
Nikawa najiuliza- na nikifika je?
Nitakuta nini huko vontaji?
O- ati nikae down?
tupige stori?
nyumba nijiskie ni ya mine?
Aisee na huku vontaji bana, si kubaya
…si kubaya hata kidogo.
Nikafika vontaji, sema nyumbani.

*Sheng’ is a Kiswahili-based urban slang from Kenya. A mix of Kiswahili, English, vernacular languages and who knows what else. Read more here.

**we are the ones we have been waiting for is from a 1978 poem by June Jordan, written for South African women.

Juliani’s song:

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