‘Ils m’ont dit’ de Francois Sengat-Kuo / ‘They told me’ by Francois Sengat-Kuo

I would like to share another poem ‘Ils m’ont dit‘ by  François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971. This poem ‘They told me’ is all about reclaiming African-ness. I know it doesn’t quite sound like it, but here is someone who left all to please others, in this case the European masters, and in the end decides to reclaim what is his, his culture, and above all himself. The poem deals with colonization times, the service of African soldiers in World war I and II, and then independence or rather the quest to find oneself. And yes, once he decides to put himself first, they tell him that he is a traitor. I bring you here “Ils m’ont dit” (They Told Me) translated to English by Dr. Y. on Afrolegends.com

 

Sengat_Kuo2

‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l'Afrique à la Conférence de Berlin de 1884

As we talk about neo-colonialism, and the new conquest of Africa, I thought about sharing this poem ‘They Came‘ by the Cameroonian writer François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971.  In the poem, he talks about colonization and how Africans were fooled by European missionaries who were always preceding European explorers and armies.  I particularly like the sentence: “they came, … bible on hand, guns behind.”  How true! In the days of colonization, Europeans claimed to be bringing civilization and christianity to pagans across the globe.  Today, they bring development, globalization, and democracy…  same ol’ thing → submission and slavery of the people.  Enjoy!

Ils sont venus

au clair de lune

au rythme du tam-tam

ce soir-là comme toujours

l’on dansait

l’on riait

brillant avenir

ils sont venus

civilisation

bibles sous le bras

fusils en mains

les morts se sont entassés

l’on a pleuré

et le tam-tam s’est tu

silence profond comme la mort

 

They came

by the light of the moon

to the rhythm of the tam-tam

that night as always

we were dancing

we were laughing

brilliant future

they came

civilization

bibles under the arm

guns in hand

the dead bodies piled up

we cried

and the tam-tam was silenced

profound silence like death