Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bi. Kidude -- May 21, 2013

Mtima wangu, si mzima
Unatona matone ya kite
Kutoka matundu machungu
Ya msumari mtundu
Uliofuliwa na waliofiwa
Na fahamu za wema

Il mio cuore, spezzato,
Gocciola gocce di gemiti
Dai fori amari
Di un chiodo sfacciato
Forgiato da coloro che hanno perso
Il senso della bontà.

Sikate Tamaa // Said Ahmed Mohamed 

Umeanguka,   inuka,   Simama kama mnazi

Umechunika,   inuka,   tia dawa kwa ujuzi

Sasa inuka,   inuka,   kijana ianze kazi

Sikate tamaa

Usife tamaa,   nyanyuka,   ni  muweza wa kutenda
Kuna hadaa,   nyanyuka,   anza tena kujipinda
Dunia baa,   nyanyuka,   anza tena kujiunda
Sikate tamaa

Non disperare
Se sei caduto,   alzati,   stai dritto come un fuso
Se sei ferito,   alzati,   e medicati il viso
Ora alzati,   alzati,   rimettiti al lavoro
Non disperare

Sì che ce la fai,   in piedi,   non perdere la speranza
Problemi ce l’hai,   in piedi,   e ricomincia con forza
Ti trovi nei guai,   in piedi,   e ricomincia la lotta
Non disperare


On a clear day so sunny and ever so bright
Midday over stone docks onward our flight
Boarding one by one like upon Noah’s arc
Treading up the narrow wood plank so stained and so stark
onto decks dressed with carpets as of 1001 nights
or below deck in the dark among  crew , booze, ‘n tasty delights .

Come minstrels, come sailors, come exuberant youth
Come Queen of Taraab song, Bi Kidude, forsooth.
Clad in bright robes billowing light blue like the sky.
Her gaggle of admirers always close and nearby.

Admirers react to every gesture, her every word
 She is trussed like a young blushing  bride,
So much make-up, so absurd
her years  are more than double most men here today
the sum of her years she knows not yet to this very day.

Strong as an elephant yet frail like the sparrow
The barefoot songstress glides in like a Queen Pharaoh.
She reclines upon pillows embroidered with lace
Yet knocks back a beer and smokes without pause, no hint of disgrace.

“Look at me! I am Bi Kidude, loud and ungainly though I be,
I entertain and instruct young budding brides
how to perform and how they must act to tempt,
 to please young lovers, new husbands for awhile
on their wedding nights how they must tease and beguile.
Listen to my words and between every line
You will find more than one meaning,
Often naughty and yet so divine.”

The center of attention she captivates and owns her own place
Among legends and icons we so fondly embrace
Though she be old, a rough relic of some distinct gone-by culture of the past
Her gift to us all is carved in her extravagance to the last.

Sun-baked and grey no amount of paint, her age can hide
She be the Queen, the Bard of a near- Arabian culture, never much a blushing bride.
Taunting lyrics and double entendres do tickle and chide.
We set out to sail upon the late afternoon on high tide.

With carmine lips and pronounced red rough-ed cheeks,
reclining like a queen atop soft high stacked pillows as she speaks.
Closing in, a crush of strong young dark men on all sides
all eyes on Bi Kidude awaiting her taunting roguish chides.

A lit cigarette dances on her lips as she relates a winding tale
Smoke rises like a foggy mist setting the scene as we sail
Into the horizon across time and space so it were
To rambling acts of jealousy and lovers crossed she did refer.

Pleased with herself as she regales the young men with her song
Many years younger she now feels sat among this youthful throng.
Until the sun sets across the horizon far off to the west
we enjoy the grand queen of Taarab song as she smokes, sings, and jests.

At the end of our journey inspired young men do pause and ponder
How such an ancient African woman, so rough, presents tales of so much wonder,
Accounts of jealous lovers and of their multiple sins
Must wait till Queen Bi Kidude sings such songs to them once again.

AN ODE TO WILD HAPPINESS // Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein 

For Bi. Kidude

You – who pisses on parliament,
Who crushes hearts with song,
Who loves the planting men
The working men, the fishermen
You who loves yourself, above all
I dance in my underwear for you.

You – who chain smokes, barefoot
Who lies in the grass with a wide grin
Who sings in dark bars at midnight
Crooning to the young ones
In their skinny jeans and tight tops
Who wraps yourself in glittered scarves
Who smears on the lipstick
And kisses the darkest sky,
I run through rain for you.

You – who travels the world with your ballads
Lamenting the desperate lack of love
That defines this dizzy, sick planet
Who blazes into state university offices
And spins on modern chairs
Uttering history’s secrets
Who speaks a toothless truth
Regardless of who’s listening,
I write because of you.

You – who holds the world’s passion in your womb
Gives birth again and again to Eros
Grips the dirtiest hand, kisses the messiest chin
All for the love of being human
Who pulls us closer still to the bosom
Of heartache, lets us press an ear
To the seashell of your epic soul.  
I stand quiet by the sea for you.

You – who graces the stage in wrinkled charm
Black kohl underlining a century of song.
Adorned with bangles and robes of pleasure
A goddess wrapped in purple
Whose songs escort us to the deepest chambers of longing.
Who sleeps on thin mattresses near doorways flooded with light,
And speaks to all citizens as lovers,
Eyes ablaze with memories of rhythm.
I rev the motorcycle engine for you.

You – who were born just a wee thing
And grew to be larger than life, first wailing
Under black robes, just a girl of 10, 
In the days of the Arabs, their silent dhows 
sailing, sinking slow, and then -- soaring 
Nation to nation, a songbird singing
 I’ve been to America! 
I’ve been to Europe! Japan! and you were everywhere,
your songs like lanterns lighting the way
As we trekked the darkest caves of sorrow.
I walk alone for you.

You  -- who passes Swahili secrets between women
Like sticks of invisible fire from soul to soul
Who straddle the drum like a lover
Who speaks in drum and sings in drum
And swims in drum and dresses in drum
And lives in drum and fights in drum
And howls in drum and curses in drum
And hollers in drum and dreams in drum
Because she is drum and beats her rage
As clearly as she beats her joy
I dance for you.

Here’s to living life at the edges.
To the fire that never dies.
For returning from the dead once more.
To music as healing salve.
To  kidude as verb,
Untranslatable, transcendent