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1 - Hyperbolic Praise Poetry for Ngũgĩ @80 … In Imitation of African Orature

from Part I - Serenades & Beginnings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2019

Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo
Affiliation:
Emeritus Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence at the Department of African American Studies, Syracuse University.
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Summary

Opening Cycle and Point of Entry

Hodi! Hodi!

Knock! Knock!

Gũkũ nĩkwaũ?

G?kũ nĩkwaũ?

Gũkũ nĩkwaũ?

Menye nĩguo njarie cararũkũ

Wũĩ, wainaga!

Whose place (home) is this?

Whose place (home) is this?

Whose place (home) is this?

I want to know so that I can speak bluntly

Yes, singer/dancer that used to be!

Nĩkwa mũrata

nĩkwa mũrata

Nĩkwa mũrata

Aria, nakuo kwaria nĩkwendana

Wũĩ, wainaga!

It is a friend's (place) home

It is a friend's (place) home

It is a friend's (place) home

Speak, for to hold dialogue is to love

Yes, singer/dancer that used to be!

Mũrata ũrĩkũ?

Mũrata ũrĩkũ?

Mũrata ũrĩkũ?

Mũini wĩ ngumo nĩwa arata aingĩ

Wũĩ, wainaga

Which friend?

Which friend?

Which friend?

A famous singer/dancer has many friends

Yes, singer/dancer that used to be

Nĩkwa wa Thiong'o

Nĩkwa wa Thiong'o

Nĩkwa wakinĩ

Wĩgwaku mũciĩ; aria cararũkũ

Wũĩ, wainaga

It is wa Thiong'o's place (home)

It is wa Thiong'o's place (home)

It is an age-mate's place (home)

You are in your own home; speak bluntly

Yes, singer/dancer that used to be

With permission to enter the homestead, the poetess's imagination grows wings

Words trip over her tongue, impatient for the moment of utterance

Hyperbole seizes the license to decorate plain words with extra lacy language

Now only the feet drag with the weight of age as dancer after dancer enters as if claiming territorial ownership of space: as if swearing to eclipse all competition

First Cycle (one score): Entry into the Dance Arena

Wũi wakwa-ĩ! (Oh my!) I, dancer/singer that used to be!

Where shall I find the feet to enter this competition-bound dance arena

where younger, more nimble dancers are sworn to make a shadowy fool of me

stomping the yielding ground that readily surrenders to their aggressive youthful energy?

Oh, who will lend me youthful feet to enter the arena, I, dancer/singer that used to be,

to celebrate my age-mate, the son of Thiong'o, on this his eightieth birthday?

Of a truth, ancient proverbial wisdom did not lie: wainaga nĩeroragĩra!

(Sh/e who once danced/sang can turn into a spectator)!

But, refusing to turn into a spectator, I dancer/singer that used to be, vow to call upon the spirit of rebellion to possess every inch of my body.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ngugi
Reflections on his Life of Writing
, pp. 25 - 34
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

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