Since the story broke abut African migrants forcibly dying off the coast of Libya, abandoned by NATO’s humanitarian mission, so many trite remakes have been made. The most common is some variation of, “I am reduced to silence”, or better, “what can I do, over there is so far away, I feel so lucky here?” etc. In the face of these remarks I am posting two poems from Faiz Ahmed Fiaz. Here is the link to the story about the migrants. Below are the poems. So speak.



Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith’s shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, ’cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.


If they snatch my ink and pen,
I should not complain,
For I have dipped my fingers
In the blood of my heart.
I should not complain
Even if they seal my tongue,
For every ring of my chain
Is a tongue ready to speak

2 thoughts on “Speak

  1. Hey Centime,
    Hope yer well. Are you in T.O. at all this summer? What would you think about a conversation/interview on the subject of African politics and anthropology? Already, I bet this is pushing some buttons (‘why does Eurocentric anthropology travel to Africa?’ etc.) I would intend to push buttons that I think can help clarify the myth of African-European innocence-guilt, by deeper anthropological reflection on the structure of the European settler cultures. What buttons would you press? I feel that this is a conversation that, if it has happened, has remained small-scale and dwarfed by political correctness and American liberalism. So how about this: a conversation between a European colonized-colonizer and an ‘authentically’ African subject ;) ? Yet kindred spirits in a critical theory of post-liberal universality? Idea one: there is no colonial culture that does not also colonize itself.
    Colin ‘the Scotsman’ Campbell

  2. You crack me up Colin Campbell. I am down for all and any kind of conversation, though not an interview! You have to read Mahmood Mamdani’s work before we proceed. Or not! Email me at centime@yorku.ca. I am here this summer finishing a project :) Let’s us drink for the buttons of all mankind to come flying off. Oh that sounds dirty, now!

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