“Love the African Way” by Esmeralda Yitamben

L’amour / Love

Today, I will share with you a beautiful poem by author Esmeralda Yitamben, “Love, the African Way.” As you remember, I shared the poem ‘African Hair’ by Esmeralda Yitamben which, in my humble opinion, should be published in school books… and which I dearly love. Here is another one, for the lovers out there, and the historians as well. Every part of this poem is rich in history, history of the African continent, of the race, and combines the ancient and the modern faces of Africa : from the scholarly city of Timbuktu, one of the first universities of the world, to the second longest river of Africa, the Congo River and the great Congo Empire, to the libraries of Alexandria, to the sandy beaches of Senegal, from the dunes of The forgotten kingdom of Nubia to the streets of Douala. Imagine climbing the tallest mountain of Africa for someone you love, going to battle like Shaka Zulu, and winning them all like Menelik II (Battle of Adwa)… Imagine a love founded on the rock of the great Egyptian pyramids, and rising like the sphinx, never faltering. No doubt that this is a celebration of victory, of wealth, of the conquest of all battles, and above all… of love. The original poem can be found on Kalaharireview.com. Enjoy!

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Love, the African Way” by Esmeralda Yitamben

I want to love you in Bambara

And take you to the sacred city of Timbuktu.

Nakupenda Malaika

Is what I will tell you, my angel, in Kiswahili.

Wapi Yo” my dear?

I will speak Lingala and navigate the Congo River looking for you from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi.

On my way, I will stop to contemplate the okapi, whose beauty and grace reminds me so much of yours.

I will climb Mt Kilimandjaro and stand fearlessly like a Maasai warrior.

I will rise on the wings of the sphinx at Thebes,

and revive the rolls of papyri from the burnt libraries of Alexandria,

to read you centuries’ old love poems

And walk the dunes of the ancient kingdom of Nubia at Meroë.

I will celebrate my long lost love on the beach of Dakar, and claim how much I miss you in Wolof “Namm naa la”.

Mase fi mi sile my love, don’t go, is what I will say in Yoruba, so that you never leave me.

You belong to me, natondi wa, I love you, and I will dance to the rhythm of makossa in the streets of Douala.

Like Chaka Zulu, I will be the warrior of your heart, I will fight a thousand battles for you.

And like Menelik II, great emperor of Ethiopia, I will win them all for you, precious one!

Together, we will build an empire as great as the Empire of Mali and our love will be talked about throughout the universe.

And when we finally meet again, I will say M’Bifé, I love you.

Glossary

Wapi Yo = “Where are you?” In Lingala (Congo)

Nakupenda Malaika = “I love you angel” in Kiswahili (Kenya, Tanzania)

Namm naa la = “I miss you,” in Wolof (Senegal, Gambia)

Mase fi mi sile = “don’t leave me” in Yoruba (Nigeria)

Na tondi wa = “I love you” in Douala (Cameroon)

Makossa is a musical style from Cameroon

M’Bifé = “I love you,” in Bambara (Mali)

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