The Village

The Village
Can you ever forget the village?
Can you ever forget its shore
from where the splashing of water rises in evening?

Can you ever forget its springs?
Can you ever forget its banana leaves
that rustle in the darkness?
Listen to the song that unfolds:
it is a chorus of children in the pirogue
that glides on the river

Can you feel the air of the day vibrate
and can you feel the rich soil tremble
when the fire of a train pushes through the silence of the 

Look at the sun falling asleep
like him unfold your mat and sleep
for tomorrow is another day.
Marie-Léontine Tsibinda

from A Rain of Words: A Bilingual Anthology of Women's Poetry in Francophile Africa, edited by Irène Assiba d’Almeida (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2009)

translated by Janis A. Mayes

Reproduced by kind permission of the translator and publisher.
Marie-Léontine Tsibinda

Marie-Léontine Tsibinda was born in Girard. She attended the University of Brazzaville, gaining a Masters in English, and later worked as a librarian at the American Cultural Centre. In 1978 she published her first book of poetry. Between 1979 and 1987 she was an actress in of the Rocado Zulu Theatrical Company of playwright and novelist Sony Labou Tansi. In 1981, Tsibinda received the National Prize for Poetry, and in 1996, the Unesco-Aschberg Prize for her novel Les pagnes mouillés.

Tsibinda has lived in many Congolese towns, including Girard, Dolisie, Les Saras, Pointe-Noire, Bounda. In 1999 she was forced to flee her home country during its civil war, eventually settling in Canada in 2002. Tsibinda has published short stories, several collections of poems, and in 2000 an anthology, Moi, Congo ou les rêveurs de la souveraineté. She is married to the poet Bilombo-Samba.

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About The Village

This poem, representing Congo, is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.