Harriet Anena writes a poem in Acholi, a language spoken by the Acholi of Northern Uganda. Enjoy!


Dako ikin Mon

Awinyo Akello celo nyero ki I bur lyel – calo latone mo tye ka gido labute

Aneno gweng ma i wi lyel pa Akello yenge – calo oyeng-yeng tye ka twak ki bur lyel

Ce gwok bene tye ka nyono lamola ba! Ce gwok bene tye ka goyo kijira ba!

Kadi in bene onongo wang ma inginyo

Kadi in bene onongo wang ma iryenyo laki I kin kaka

Kadi in bene onongo wang ma imako pyeri, i ilo dwoni ikin mon luwoti


Lutino ni, ma tin tuk ki dege ka wiyi ni

Gulari ki i pala lucwan me yet pa dano Laliya

Lalur ma iye ki yamo ma lyet – neko lutino aneka

Gulari ki i ngala ma lyet pa mon luwoti

Lajok ma onyo lutino ne aonya ki jok ma ite pii


Kadi bed i too i dog nywal

Lutino ni – Acen gin ki Opiyo tin gitye kwot ni

Lutino ni – Acen gin ki Opiyo gukwo oweko tin imyelo – kadi bed ki ibur lyel


Kadi bed tin itye i puti abicel

Itoo ma onongo itye mego

Lubangani oneno kit ma pig wangi omol kwede. Mwaka Acel. Aryo. Adek. Angwen. Abic

Lubangani okwano wel lutino ma o ony ki iyi. Litino Acel. Aryo. Adek. Angwen. Abic

Kadi bed agulu pii otoo i dogola

Lubangani olaro pii kikobo aryo mo – Acen gin ki Opio

Lutino ma oweko itoo ma onongo itye dako-adaka ikin mon luwoti


Woman among Women

I hear Akello laugh from the grave – like her lover is tickling her

I see the stones on her grave shake – like an earthquake is rocking the grave

She could even be dancing!

She could even be ululating!

You would have broken into dance too

You would have shown your white teeth among your kin too

You would have held your waste, raised your voice among your fellow women too


Your children, who today trot the world in planes

Rescued you from the sword of abuse in Laliya Village

The barren one, whose womb keeps killing her unborn

They rescued you from hot ridicule of your fellow women

The witch, who kills her unborn children and offers them to gods of the underwater


Even though you died giving life

Your children- Acen and Opio are your shield today

They are the reason you’re dancing today, even if from the grave


Although you’re six feet under

You died a real mother

Your god saw the tears that rolled down your cheeks. For One. Two. Three. Four. Five years

Your god counted the number of children you lost to miscarriages. One. Two. Three. Four. Five

Even though the water pot broke by the doorstep

Your god saved two cups of water – Acen and Opio

The children who made you a woman among women

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