Remember the time when a man from the north
Wrote a letter received by a man from the south
And the second man threw the letter away,
Since the first man’s language was foreign to him?
Remember the time when a camel was owned
By two men who needed to talk things through,
So a third man came as an interpreter?
Remember how politicians decided
To give us a written language? Remember
The fighting and feuding, the shouting and swearing?
Ten years went by with nothing decided
Until someone in power said, ‘Latin!’ and then
Somalia sat down and uncapped its pen.
I dreamed of that day! The pen and the page –
A poet’s stock–in–trade. The choice
Finally made. The alphabet
Taking the first few steps of a journey
And never looking back. A new age
Of wisdom in poetry, yes, a new
Tradition! Go, now, and wake Sayid –
Give him the news, tell all the great
Poets our language lives again,
And this time written to last in lines
That can’t be lost or thrown away.
About this poem
This poem, representing Somalia, is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.