Poems: “The Rubaiyat From Africa” and “Pangani Ritual” in The Kalahari Review

The Rubaiyat From Africa

I adore you, handsome son of Africa.
Let me undress your heart’s lamina
Watering love to your modest veins
Until you want more of me, Hekima.

I have journeyed under starless clouds
To free my heart from desiring shrouds.
After I see you seated on a verandah,
I pray for ending of your suitors crowds.

Under a mango tree is my limp body
Dreaming of a possible romantic bawdy
To have you mine with a wanton smile
Bid farewell to flirts performed in shoddy.

I’ll wash your skin with coconut milk
Wrap your taut body in songs of silk
Hypnotise you in scents of taarab verses
Until you long for the woman of my ilk.

We’ll sail in a boat of skillful caresses
On the ocean deep of beautiful guesses
To honour waves of your gentleman physique
Illustrated by whispers of my braided tresses.

I will then stop, and ask you to leave
Don’t return until a willing to weave
A mat dyed of betrothed deeds
Not to be forgotten after I conceive.

You’ll say, “The moon will come and go,
But what I feel will not melt like snow.”
What was a wrestling match between hearts
Will have bodies entwined in sweating glow.

  1. Hekima is a boy’s name. It means wisdom in Swahili language.
  2. Ruba’i is a poetry style, whereby multiple stanzas in the ruba’i form the plural form, a rubaiyat.

Pangani Ritual

Cleanse your miseries from winter abroad.
Caress your feet with sands of Pangani.
Wash your exhaustion with palm breezes.
Radiate your skin through salty encounters.
Bathe your tongue with coconut water.
Play seek and hide with hermit crabs.
Ornate your pride with a seaweed necklace.
Purify your being with shells collection.
At night look up and unite with the stars.
Dance to melodic waves of Indian Ocean.
Complete the ritual with gratitude to hosts.
Return and honour the destination slogan
“Tanga hutangaza ya halali, haramu huacha”.

  1. Tanga is a region located in the northeast of Tanzania, bordered by the Indian Ocean on the east. The region is divided into eight districts, one of them is Pangani. Pangani is an idyllic coastal destination which is surrounded by miles of untouched beaches. “Tanga hutangaza ya halali, haramu huacha” is a praising phrase that is commonly used by the locals, which literally translates to “Tanga advertises the legitimate, disregards the forbidden.”

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