From Song of Prisoner (1970) by Okot p’Bitek

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Is today not my father’s

Funeral anniversary?

My clansmen and clanswomen

Are gathering in our village,

They sit in circles

In the shades of granaries,

But who will make

The welcome speech?

Men drink kwete beer,

Women cook goat meat

And make millet bread,

But I am not there

To distribute the dishes

Among the elders!

The priests throw morsels

Of chicken meat,

They squirt goat blood

And pour libations

To the assembled ghosts

Of the dead,

But how can I address

The ghosts of my fathers

From here?

How can they put chymes

On my chest and back?

How can my grandmother

Spit blessing on me?

My age-mates have donned

White ostrich feathers,

They are singing a war song,

I want to join them

In the wilderness

And chase Death away

From our village,

Drive him a thousand miles

Beyond the mountains

In the west,

Let him sink down

With the setting sun

And never rise again.

I want to join

The funeral dancers,

I want to tread the earth

With a vengeance

And shake the bones

Of my father in his grave

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