Sheria ni Wanne

(As performed on 9th June 2010 at the Kwani Open Mic)

Sheria ni Wanne

It would be hard to miss the woman

Standing by the corner

Alone and detached from the crowd

Seemingly untouched by the excited chatter around her

At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable about her

She does not cut an admirable figure

Slightly bent, leaning heavily against the wall

The wind blowing her loosely tied leso

This is not an extraordinary woman

But despite the controlled chaos around her

It’s hard to miss her

“Huyo bibi harusi anaingia

Hoye hoyeeee

Shangwe na vigelele”


She seems old and frail although she’s barely forty

Looking at her standing still, you are first hit by the desperation,

Then the fear, the anger, the bitterness and hopelessness

That seems to permeate from her into the air around her

Yet she hardly moves,

It would be so easy to ignore her

She looks around her with accusing eyes

The people around her almost like strangers

Yet she’s lived with them for more than 20 yrs

“Ywapi mamake harusi aje hapa tuhangaike naye

Hoyee hoyeee

Shangwe na vigelele”


Snippets of conversations chase after her

Making her wish she could go deaf for just one day

Silence her world and give her peace

But she has to stand and swallow her shame

While her whole world crashes around her

She remembers the day she was worthy of being called mke

When the singing and joy had been for her

Not an old hag past her sell by date

“Mke mwenza bwana katwawa

Naatwawe mwana kutwawa

Bendera yangu ninayo mwenyewe”

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