Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

My Mother's Cows

Enlarge poem

Don’t take them away
Father, don’t take my mother’s cows away from her

Look at her hands
They are red from milking her cow’s breasts
Hardened and secluded from any form of rest
To make sure dada and I go to a good school
Protect us from the cold with linen cloth and wool

Father didn’t you know?
Didn’t you know that when you were drinking your life
The herd married your wife
They spent more time with her than you ever could
They gave her so much support than you ever would

It is the black and white dotted skin that made me finish grade seven
Selling white liquid cream to buy beans for a family of eleven

What were you thinking dear father?
What was going on in your mind?
When you had more beers than the water you daily drink?
When you brought home a girl younger than I, what did you think?
We would embrace and love her?
Dada and I would call her mother?
Father?
Father, put down that bottle of beer
Put down that liquid that has done us no good
That has made us a laugh in the neighborhood
All the kids at school know who I am
The daughter of the man who sings at night called Willy I am

Did you not see this coming?
That one day you will be running
Out of cows, goats and sheep
And cause my dear mama to daily weep

Now I am afraid of what has become of you
I see the way you look at me
And I have seen you and baba lulu at the bar talking
I know what is coming
And just like your cows, I know I cannot protest
Like a slave to be sold
My virginity to be given a price
So that you have another glass of liquor with ice

Esther Karin Mngodo

Featured Poem:

Chai

Enlarge poem

Dark, hot
And spicy

He told me to bring a cup of
Chai
“Tea” he said
“Make it the way I like it”
He reminded.

Spiced with cinnamon and lemon
Sweetened by honey and sugar
I was ready
To be drunk by my master
Ready to be poured into his cup
And break my alabaster

Dark skin
Smooth as within
Delicate and vulnerable
I knew he would treat my heart
The way he treated my body
The way he treated his tea
The way he liked it

Hot and spicy
Sweet and tasty

He never waited for it to cool down
Never waited for me to be ready

Never thought that the hot chai
Could burn his tongue
Never realized that I was too young

To be drunk
By a man old enough to be
My father
To be exposed
To a mouth that treats my hot tea
With a cold heart

He touched me
And I cried
Sizzling my heat on his tongue

I cried
Tears of pain
Were mistaken for pleasure

I cried
For I was that Chai
That I made
For an unworthy tongue

I cried
As he extracted from my tree
Every leaf that
Would give him more tea

I cried
For the fact that he didn’t care
That he defiled me

I cried
That there was no one
No one
Who could help me
The ones that I depended on
Had left me

They hid in their own caves
Engulfed by their own fears

Cause we were only slaves
Slaves to our masters desire
I was, he said, the special kind
For his special desires
His concubine
His suria

I cried
For the years I had spent
Keeping myself
For my husband

I cried
For my parents and my little siblings
Who were looking up to me

I cried
My pride, Gone
My taste, Gone
My youth, Gone
My love, Gone

All because this man
Wanted a taste
Of black Chai

Estaa1

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (8)
  • Pride (5)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (4)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (3)
  • Reflection (2)
  • Captivation (3)
  • Peace (2)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (5)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

  1. What a revelation: “I knew he would treat my heart The way he treated my body”.
    It is so easy to mistake tenderness for true love as the two can resemble each other so much. Every touch, every kiss can be another lie – another vicious deception. The motivation is entirely selfish as all the man wants is a “taste of black Chai” – he is a consumer and she is a variation of tea – the dark kind. There is a consumer and one that is being consumed. There is no sharing of experience.

    I am glad that the young woman has realized that she still has “sizzling heat” and spice and is well-tasting, and that the tongue that tasted her is unworthy of her.

    Dani Swai
  2. Es Taa has achieved sublimity. This is of moral and intellectual worth. This is powerful spoken word.

    Janet Otieno-Prosper
  3. This poem is poignant in all ramifications.
    The poet’s use of the Chai tea as a symbolism for the taking of a young woman’s virginity and innocence by a Master is just affecting.
    Her voice, it just was silky yet it had the strength of delivery needed to pass this message beautifully.

    Chukwuemeka
  4. Incredible poem!! I love the subtleties of the prose that actually opened the door to the stark realities of a young girl being defiled. BRAVO Es Taa! Your voice is very authentic and moving. Thank you for sharing.

    Margo
  5. ‘Tear of pain were mistaken for pleasure’My csta i like the way you express things as a woman. you are a woman and a half

    cyrill

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Known by her stage name Es Taa, Esther Karin Mngodo is a Tanzanian poet based in Dar Es Salaam. At the age of 10 she was encouraged by her mother to join the choir, which she did. As the youngest member at the time, Es Taa started off as a Saprano and later on as an Alto. She recently discovered her Tenor voice in a band that ahe has been part of since 2006. Not only is the 26 year old a poet and a musician, but a journalist, a storyteller, a playwright, a social worker, a song composer and a woman passionate about her faith in God.

In 2011 she co-wrote a Musical Move: The Time is Now that was staged at The National Museum Theatre in Dar Es Salaam. She recently performed her original poems at The Smart Partnership Dialogue Meeting held in Dar es Salaam that was attended by Commonwealth Heads of States and different dignitaries.

Using her own life experience, Es Taa’s passion is to unearth matters that people would rather not talk about openly, to bring healing through authentic lyrics that have been birthed through her own pain, mistakes and the quest of life’s purpose. She also seeks to use art as a tool of social change by addressing issues of human rights and social justice in a way that people can relate to.

Esther Karin Mngodo

Estaa1
Estaa1

Biography

Known by her stage name Es Taa, Esther Karin Mngodo is a Tanzanian poet based in Dar Es Salaam. At the age of 10 she was encouraged by her mother to join the choir, which she did. As the youngest member at the time, Es Taa started off as a Saprano and later on as an Alto. She recently discovered her Tenor voice in a band that ahe has been part of since 2006. Not only is the 26 year old a poet and a musician, but a journalist, a storyteller, a playwright, a social worker, a song composer and a woman passionate about her faith in God.

In 2011 she co-wrote a Musical Move: The Time is Now that was staged at The National Museum Theatre in Dar Es Salaam. She recently performed her original poems at The Smart Partnership Dialogue Meeting held in Dar es Salaam that was attended by Commonwealth Heads of States and different dignitaries.

Using her own life experience, Es Taa’s passion is to unearth matters that people would rather not talk about openly, to bring healing through authentic lyrics that have been birthed through her own pain, mistakes and the quest of life’s purpose. She also seeks to use art as a tool of social change by addressing issues of human rights and social justice in a way that people can relate to.

My Mother's Cows

Enlarge poem

Don’t take them away
Father, don’t take my mother’s cows away from her

Look at her hands
They are red from milking her cow’s breasts
Hardened and secluded from any form of rest
To make sure dada and I go to a good school
Protect us from the cold with linen cloth and wool

Father didn’t you know?
Didn’t you know that when you were drinking your life
The herd married your wife
They spent more time with her than you ever could
They gave her so much support than you ever would

It is the black and white dotted skin that made me finish grade seven
Selling white liquid cream to buy beans for a family of eleven

What were you thinking dear father?
What was going on in your mind?
When you had more beers than the water you daily drink?
When you brought home a girl younger than I, what did you think?
We would embrace and love her?
Dada and I would call her mother?
Father?
Father, put down that bottle of beer
Put down that liquid that has done us no good
That has made us a laugh in the neighborhood
All the kids at school know who I am
The daughter of the man who sings at night called Willy I am

Did you not see this coming?
That one day you will be running
Out of cows, goats and sheep
And cause my dear mama to daily weep

Now I am afraid of what has become of you
I see the way you look at me
And I have seen you and baba lulu at the bar talking
I know what is coming
And just like your cows, I know I cannot protest
Like a slave to be sold
My virginity to be given a price
So that you have another glass of liquor with ice

Featured Poem:

Chai

Enlarge poem

Dark, hot
And spicy

He told me to bring a cup of
Chai
“Tea” he said
“Make it the way I like it”
He reminded.

Spiced with cinnamon and lemon
Sweetened by honey and sugar
I was ready
To be drunk by my master
Ready to be poured into his cup
And break my alabaster

Dark skin
Smooth as within
Delicate and vulnerable
I knew he would treat my heart
The way he treated my body
The way he treated his tea
The way he liked it

Hot and spicy
Sweet and tasty

He never waited for it to cool down
Never waited for me to be ready

Never thought that the hot chai
Could burn his tongue
Never realized that I was too young

To be drunk
By a man old enough to be
My father
To be exposed
To a mouth that treats my hot tea
With a cold heart

He touched me
And I cried
Sizzling my heat on his tongue

I cried
Tears of pain
Were mistaken for pleasure

I cried
For I was that Chai
That I made
For an unworthy tongue

I cried
As he extracted from my tree
Every leaf that
Would give him more tea

I cried
For the fact that he didn’t care
That he defiled me

I cried
That there was no one
No one
Who could help me
The ones that I depended on
Had left me

They hid in their own caves
Engulfed by their own fears

Cause we were only slaves
Slaves to our masters desire
I was, he said, the special kind
For his special desires
His concubine
His suria

I cried
For the years I had spent
Keeping myself
For my husband

I cried
For my parents and my little siblings
Who were looking up to me

I cried
My pride, Gone
My taste, Gone
My youth, Gone
My love, Gone

All because this man
Wanted a taste
Of black Chai

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (8)
  • Pride (5)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (4)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (3)
  • Reflection (2)
  • Captivation (3)
  • Peace (2)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (5)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

My Mother's Cows

Enlarge poem

Don’t take them away
Father, don’t take my mother’s cows away from her

Look at her hands
They are red from milking her cow’s breasts
Hardened and secluded from any form of rest
To make sure dada and I go to a good school
Protect us from the cold with linen cloth and wool

Father didn’t you know?
Didn’t you know that when you were drinking your life
The herd married your wife
They spent more time with her than you ever could
They gave her so much support than you ever would

It is the black and white dotted skin that made me finish grade seven
Selling white liquid cream to buy beans for a family of eleven

What were you thinking dear father?
What was going on in your mind?
When you had more beers than the water you daily drink?
When you brought home a girl younger than I, what did you think?
We would embrace and love her?
Dada and I would call her mother?
Father?
Father, put down that bottle of beer
Put down that liquid that has done us no good
That has made us a laugh in the neighborhood
All the kids at school know who I am
The daughter of the man who sings at night called Willy I am

Did you not see this coming?
That one day you will be running
Out of cows, goats and sheep
And cause my dear mama to daily weep

Now I am afraid of what has become of you
I see the way you look at me
And I have seen you and baba lulu at the bar talking
I know what is coming
And just like your cows, I know I cannot protest
Like a slave to be sold
My virginity to be given a price
So that you have another glass of liquor with ice

Comments

  1. What a revelation: “I knew he would treat my heart The way he treated my body”.
    It is so easy to mistake tenderness for true love as the two can resemble each other so much. Every touch, every kiss can be another lie – another vicious deception. The motivation is entirely selfish as all the man wants is a “taste of black Chai” – he is a consumer and she is a variation of tea – the dark kind. There is a consumer and one that is being consumed. There is no sharing of experience.

    I am glad that the young woman has realized that she still has “sizzling heat” and spice and is well-tasting, and that the tongue that tasted her is unworthy of her.

    Dani Swai
  2. Es Taa has achieved sublimity. This is of moral and intellectual worth. This is powerful spoken word.

    Janet Otieno-Prosper
  3. This poem is poignant in all ramifications.
    The poet’s use of the Chai tea as a symbolism for the taking of a young woman’s virginity and innocence by a Master is just affecting.
    Her voice, it just was silky yet it had the strength of delivery needed to pass this message beautifully.

    Chukwuemeka
  4. Incredible poem!! I love the subtleties of the prose that actually opened the door to the stark realities of a young girl being defiled. BRAVO Es Taa! Your voice is very authentic and moving. Thank you for sharing.

    Margo
  5. ‘Tear of pain were mistaken for pleasure’My csta i like the way you express things as a woman. you are a woman and a half

    cyrill

Your email address will not be published.