Siwachi Kusema: The Freedom Is Jailed

Expressing our thoughts is one way of communicating and communication is, itself, one of basic human characteristics. A person who does not communicate – or is made not to communicate – lacks something so significant to their well-being that is similar to their breathing.

It is through the power of expression that our humanity is attained. Therefore, it is a right so intertwined in us that we cannot be separated from. Allowing any person – no matter how powerful they are – to suffocate our freedom of expression is to sign our own death certificate. Whoever tries to do so, they have to be met with radical reactions, because we cannot afford that stupidity.

That is a message throughout this poetry collection, hammering every element that aims at jailing the freedom of people.

You, the Iron Fist
Listen to what I say
Things that annoy you
Things that anger you
Want to beat me?
Want to subjugate me?
Well, on you can go
But silent I won’t be
Never will I stop speaking!

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‘Andamo’: A Young Traveller on Journey

Kiswahili has at least three meanings of the word ‘Andamo‘, which carries the title of this book. Depending on which context it has been used, Swahili people use this word to describe situations or actions. One of which is the situation of sticking tightly to something and never let it go.

Most poems in this book were written when Mohammed Ghassani was still in his 20s and some even before that. They tell a story of a young man who lives his life as an adult, thinking deep for the answers of his own from the questions he created. Buy the book here.


‘N’na Kwetu’: A Stanger’s Voice in a Strange Land

The poem N’na Kwetu itself, which takes the title of the book, represents the internal struggle of an immigrant in a foreign land.

Mohammed Ghassani was born and grew up in Zanzibar, where he spent almost all his first 32 years of life before moving to Germany with his family. Though very grateful for the country that received and accepted him and his children, the poet seems to live in constant fears of loosing his roots, facing stereotypes associated with the North-South dichotomy and even cultural and religious prejudices. Most poems in this book try to detail this inner struggle.

This was a collection that earned him the inaugural award from the Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature in 2015. Buy the book here.