Chenjerai Hove – a tribute

You will forget

You will forget
If you stay in comfort too long
You will not know
The weight of a water pot
On the bald head of the village woman

You will forget
The weight of three bundles of thatch grass
On the sinewy neck of the woman
Whose baby cries on her back
For a blade of grass in its eyes

Sure, if you stay in comfort too long
You will not know the pain
Of child birth without a nurse in white

You will forget
The thirst, the cracked dusty lips
Of the woman in the valley
On her way to the headman who isn’t there

You will forget
The pouring pain of a thorn prick
With a load on the head.

If you stay in comfort too long
You will forget
The wailing in the valley
Of women losing a husband in the mines.

You will forget
The rough handshake of coarse palms
Full of teary sorrow at the funeral.

If you stay in comfort too long
You will not hear
The shrieky voice of old warriors sing
The songs of fresh storied battlefields.

You will forget
The unfeeling bare feet
Gripping the warm soil turned by the plough

You will forget
The voice of the season talking to the oxen.

Chenjerai hove


There is nothing tragic about blindness

nothing tragic about death

nothing tragic about divorce

tragedy is you blind

when there is beauty to see

You dead

when living would be sensible

You no appetite

when invited to a feast

You deaf

when your heart speaks

You divorce

in you wife’s embrace

You spit or vomit

when you should swallow

That’s tragedy

when you face yourself

That’s tragedy

when your folly is your feast

That’s tragedy

when mother is sick

and baby cries and father is drunk

and the goat drinks ancestral beer.

And ancestors kill your hens

and the cow overturns the milk jar

and the calf is on strike

and the singer forgets the chorus


That’s tragedy

all in one.


This post contains two of my favourite African poems and is dedicated to the late  Zimbabwean poet and novelist Mr Chenjerai Hove. 


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