Nami nambe, niwe kama waambao
Niupambe, upendeze wasomao
Niufumbe, wafumbuwe wawezao
I too have words; I’ll join those already speaking;
I’ll gild my verse so it pleases those who’re reading;
Untwist these words, for their sense may be misleading.
Kuna mamba, mtoni metakabari
Ajigamba, na kujiona hodari
Yuwaamba, kwamba ‘taishi dahari
There’s a croc gliding smugly down the river,
A boastful sop who believes he’s brave and clever.
He loves to talk, tells the world he’ll live forever.
Memughuri, ghururi za kipumbavu
Afikiri, hataishiwa na nguvu
Takaburi, hakika ni maangavu
With fool’s conceit he strings himself along,
Sustains belief that he’ll always be this strong,
But self-deceit and pride can only last so long.
Akumbuke, siku yake ikifika
Roho yake, ajuwe itamtoka
Nguvu zake, kikomoche zitafika
He should know, someday he’ll breathe his last.
He too will go, once his die’s been cast.
Time will show his power finally passed.
Afahamu, mtu hajuwi la kesho
Hatadumu, angatumiya vitisho
Maadamu, lenye mwanzo lina mwisho
What lies ahead none of us can comprehend;
What fate has set, no show of fierceness can transcend.
Don’t forget: what has a start must have an end.
Translated by Meg Arenberg