Cikin Duhu

(english translation follows below)

Ina Baga yau?
Hanyan Maiduguri
tana ja: jinin
kadani yarina,
tana ja: kafa
daga Baga. Hanya:
ja. Kafa: ja.
Zuciyana: baki.
Ubangiji, ba mu
da wakoki yau.
Ba mu da Baga.

Maiduguri, ina
tunane: muna
kira ke “gidan
zauna lafiya”
gidan aminci.
Ina aminci yau?
Yaya zamu yi
hakuri gobe,
jibi? Zo kusa
Allah. Za mu
iya yin addu’a
cikin duhu.
Same mu.


Where today is Baga?
The road to Maiduguri,
she is red: blood
of a young girl,
she is red: feet
from Baga. Road:
red. Feet: red.
My heart: blackened.
Lord, we have
no songs today.
We have no Baga.

Maiduguri, I still
remember: we
called you “home
of peace”
home of safety.
Where’s safety today?
How can we meet
with patient hope
tomorrow, the next
day? Come closer,
God. We are still
able to pray
in the dark.
Find us.

–Halima bint Ayuba, 11-Jan-2015


13 thoughts on “Cikin Duhu

  1. Laura,
    I love it when you write in this tongue (how to call it?).

    It is all more sad, if that can ever be, while the events in France take up so much of our western agenda/news/attention/media.

    It keep taking me to the course in genocide I did few years back. I am in the midst of writing a seminar about the effect of armed struggle against colonialism on the stability of countries in Africa and am now reading again Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. They all make me feel small and useless in this world. They create a great struggle in me of the place of the human (or the godly) in us, in our lives and how we are dealing with the things around us. It as if we all are still in death camps, only carrying for our own survival and perhaps the survival of our immediate kin.

    Damn! It seems we have never been to fucking Eden, it was a concentration camp where we were created and we have never left.

    Thank you for bringing up these words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dhyan, thank you for sharing your thoughts and response to this poem here.

      The language is Hausa, spoken in the northeastern region of Nigeria. It can be written with either western/Latin alphabet (“Boko”) or using Arabic script (Ajimi). “Boko Haram” is now translated by the media as “Western Education is Forbidden” — but the word “Boko” is this.

      I turn to Hausa often in my journal / poetry, and then bring the words across into English. I rarely put the Hausa translation up with English — Boko actually has special letters — “d” and “k” with hooks that have a different sound than without hooks, etc. — but I don’t have a “keyboard” converter to do it properly. In this particular case, however, it was important for me to use the Boko — a stance, however small, against the idea that “Boko” is “Haram” (forbidden).

      Thank you again for your friendship, your time, your insightful comments.


    • James, if you’re serious about wanting to hear this one in Hausa, really, send me a private FB msg with your phone number, time zone, and a couple of options of when would be good to call. I don’t have recording capability, but I’ll read it to you. (Or, if you prefer, I can leave a vmx at a number you know you won’t be answering, and you can listen to it at your convenience.)


  2. Pingback: these are what prayers look like | coffee and a blank page

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