A short poem written in 1994 by Amina Ahmed Yusuf during the height of Somalia’s man-made famine in 1993 where over 300,000 Somalis perished. It is written through the eyes of a young Somali child.
“Can You Hear Me?
Can you hear me? Can I be heard?
As you poke me, dear doctor, with your long,
sharp finger, can you hear my cry of pain?
Can you hear me, soldier,
As you kill my mother and rape my sister, and burn our village?
Can you hear me, my dear city,
For I can hear your cry as your heart is ripped out of its inner frame
And as your big walls are brought down,
Exposing you nakedly under the harsh African sky!
For I am dying and I am scared.
My short life has not come to mean much on a large world scale,
For I am no scholar or hero.
I have not climbed any great mountain or won any gold medal.
All I ever achieved is how to say “mother” at the age of one,
How to laugh at the age of two,
And how to sing at three;
At four I could dance and at five I learned how to die!
Can You Hear Me World?
You, world, who has come to this land of my forefathers
With your cameras, heavy military boots and guns.
World, my voice is weak, so I can no longer sing.
My legs are weak, so I can no longer dance,
And my arms are so weak I can no longer clap.
World, I have no hope of seeing a fairground or a zoo,
Of chasing rainbows or jumping through puddles.
For no one can hear me, so no one can see me.
I will sit in this room with all these other silent voices of death,
And I will wait until tomorrow, when I may no longer be scared.
For then I will finally be free to fly through the heavens and once again sing, dance and laugh
I will sink into the deep embrace of my mother,
Who will comfort me so that I will never be scared again!