Poem: Gĩkũyũ to kũaria tu (Kikuyu is more than just a spoken language )

(scroll down for the English translation)

Kiugo kĩa mbere kĩrĩa ndatamũkire – Tata
Ciugo cia mbere kũigua ndĩ nda ya maitũ -kaana
Rũthiomi rwa maitũ mũjiari nĩruo ma yakwa ya mbere
Rũthiomi rwa maitũ Wangarĩ nĩruo rwaheire ũũgĩ
Rũthiomi rwa maitũ mũnderi nĩruo ndamenyire naruo
Wendo, ũgwati, ũrũmbũiya, inegene, nyĩmbo ona ũhinga

Mũgambo wa maitũ
O kuma rĩrĩa ndaciarirwo
Nĩguo watuĩkire kĩmũrĩ gĩakwa mũtũrĩreinĩ
Ũkĩhe maitho ndikanahĩngwo nĩ thangari
Ũkĩhe mwĩhoko ndikanae gweterera mũũki

Ũnyonagia njĩra na mwerekero ndikahane mũhũgũi
Ũheyaga hinya wa kwĩrũgamia digatuĩke gĩkwa
Ũnjĩraga bata wakwa ndikanage kwĩrora ndĩyaage

Rũthiomi rwitũ Agĩkũyũ to rwa gũthioma
Nĩ gĩchinga twagwatĩirio nĩ Gikũyũ na Mũmbi
Nĩ ũũgĩ twagaĩirwo wa meciria
Tũtikanaheane tombo witũ
Tũtikanakuo hakiri
Tũtikanariganĩrwo nĩ ma itũ
Tũtikanatiganĩriĩ ũndũire witũ

Nĩ tondũ, tũtirĩ atingiaru

Translation: Kikuyu is more than just a spoken language

The first words I ever uttered
Tata (auntie)
the first words I heard in my mother’s womb
my child
My mother’s tongue is my first truth
My mother- Wangari’s first language taught me wisdom
the language of my mother, my guardian is what taught me
songs and

My mother’s voice
from the time I was born
has been my life’s burning flame

it gave me eyes
that I may never stumble

It gave me hope
that I may never wait for a saviour

It shows me the path to walk
that I may never become a wonder

It gives me the strength to stand on my own
that I may never become a yam plant

it tells me my worth
that I may never feel insignificant

Our language Agikuyu my people
is not to just a means to speak
it is a burning flame our first parents
Gikũyũ and Mũmbi gave us
it is the wisdom they betrothed us of the mind
that we may never give away our brains
that we may never allow our consciousness
to be colonised again
that we may never forget our truth
that we may never forsake our culture
because we are not inadequate

This poem Gĩkũyũ to kũaria tu (Kikuyu is more than just a spoken language ) is part of a collection of 10 poems that I wrote themed around Indigenous people, culture, life, love, nature, and the advocacy for indigenous languages against cultural imperialism. The 10 poems were commissioned by The Joint Board of South and North Korea for the Compilation of Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon for the 2nd International Academic Forum on Sustainable Development of Indigenous Languages. The virtual event took place on November 25th & 26th 2021( Watch a video of the event here)

The recital appearing in the above video was done by my cousin Mburu’s wife, Sarah Nyambura.

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