Nipulikiza ndu yangu, ninenayo usikiye
Yaliyo moyoni mwangu, ningependa nikwambiye
Ujuwe imani yangu, ambayo niishishiye
Siiwati ingawaye, n’shishiyelo ni lilo
Listen to me, brother. These are things you should hear.
Put your ear to my heart; let me tell you what’s there.
I need you to know the faith that I hold dear.
I will not let it go; this is what I hold fast.
Walinena walimwengu, wa zama zilopisye
Kwamba kweli i utungu, kwa yule aambiwaye
Nami haya ndugu yangu, sasa niyaaminiye
Asojuwa nasikiye, apeleleze ajuwe
Our shrewd ancestors said so; it’s nothing new:
The truth can be bitter when it’s given to you.
I’ve come to believe them; the old sayings are true.
If you don’t know it yet, listen well and you will.
Kweli nnaifahamu, haipendwi aswilani
Kwa mja hiyo ni sumu, mbaya iso kifani
Mwenye kuitakalamu, hapendezi katwaani
Sasa nshayaamini, ni kweli haya ni kweli
I’ve come to learn just how truth is despised;
Its taste, like a poison’s, not easily disguised.
Truthsayers, it seems, are rejected, not prized.
I’ve come to accept the truth of these truths.
Kweli imenitongeya, kwa kuinena mwendani
Wale nalowaambiya, wamenitiya dhikini
Wameniona mbaya, kumshinda Firauni
Kweli, sasa naamini, si wangi waipendao
I told the truth and it came to betray me;
Those who were told came back to repay me.
More wicked than Pharaoh they’d like to portray me.
Truly, I believe: there are few who love truth.
Kweli naliwaambiya, wakuu wa nti hini
Haeleza moya moya, kwa wanati wa ntini
Kuhusu walofanyiya, upande wa Upinzani
Sasa kuwamo tabuni, nalipwa kwa hiyo kweli
I spoke the truth to the men in control;
To the leaders and the people, I told it in full,
What’s become of the ones who challenged their rule.
My present affliction is my only reward.
Kweli ilipowatoma, kama dasturi yake
Wao wakaona vyema, afadhali wanishike
Wanishike hima hima, hima ndani waniweke
Ngomeni n’adhibike, nijute kusema kweli
When the truth finally cut them—as it always does—
They reckoned my words were sufficient cause,
Arrested me at once, and threw me behind bars.
They believed prison would make me regret.
Kweli yanipasha tabu, ndugu yangu niamini
Na nyingi mno adhabu, za moyoni na mwilini
Yote haya ni sababu, ya kunena kweli hini
Ndipo sasa haamini, kweli i utungu kweli
Believe me, this truth has caused bitter pain;
The vengeance on body and heart I sustain
Is all just for stating the truth that I’ve seen.
There is no question, truth is truly biting.
Kweli menibaidisha, na huko kwetu mjini
Pia menitenganisha, na walo wangu nyumbani
Kuja kuniadhibisha, kwa kunileta ngomeni
Yote sababu ni nini? Ni kwamba mesema kweli
The truth has removed me, kept me apart;
Severed me from home and those close to my heart.
Why am I punished, why kept under guard?
All this for saying things I knew to be true.
Kweli menifunga ndani, ya chumba nde sitoki
Kutwa kucha ni chumbani, juwa kuota ni dhiki
Na mlinzi mlangoni, yu papo kattu ha’ndoki
Nilindwavyo bilhaki, ni kama simba marara
The truth has me trapped morning, night;
I can’t watch dawn break or feel the sun’s light.
The guard never leaves; the door’s bolted tight.
You’d think I’m a beast the way I’m restrained.
Kweli yanilaza tini, ilo na baridi kali
Ningawa burangetini, natetema kweli kweli
Na maumivu mwilini, daima ni yangu hali
Shauri ya idhilali, ya kulazwa simitini
The truth has me sleeping on the floor, in the cold.
Despite my blanket, once the shivering takes hold,
The agony in my limbs is persistent, uncontrolled.
This is the torture of sleeping on cement.
Kweli japo ni ngomeni, kwenye kuta ndefu nene
Kabisa sitangamani, na mahabusu wingine
Na lengo kubwa nadhani, ni: nilonalo ‘sinene
Hazuwa mambo mengine, kwa kuambukiza watu
Though towering walls make me their prisoner,
I’m forbidden to mix with the others they keep here.
An uprising, I think, is the thing they most fear,
That I’ll stir something up with the things that I know.
Kweli pia meninyima, haki zilizo ngomeni
Wangu kuja nitizama, hilo haliwezekani
Haya nnayoyasema, ndivyo yalivyo yakini
Baruwa sitakikani, kwandika wala kwetewa
The truth even denies me my rights in this jail.
My loved ones can’t visit; I can’t receive mail.
These words are the truth, though it may sound unreal.
I’m forbidden contact with anyone outside.
Sendi mbele ‘tasimama, sikupi kwa tafswili
Kusudi nirudi nyuma, kwa ubeti wa awali
Ili nipate kusema, imani yangu kamili
Ujuwe kwa jambo hili, mtima wangu ulivyo
I’ll stop; I won’t detail each grim play of force,
Let me turn back instead to my opening verse,
And tell you the nature of the faith that I nurse.
So you can know fully the will of my heart.
Nilipoenua kimo, kutaka niseme kweli
Nilidhani yaliyomo, hinena sina aili
Kanama wangu mdomo, waja fungika kauli
Nisiseme bilkuli, kuwaeleza wanati
The day I stood up, to speak what I knew,
I assumed there’s no wrong in saying what’s true.
I had no notion of what I’d be put through:
To clamp my mouth shut, so I’d never be heard.
Mno wanganiadhibu, adhabu kila namna
Na mangi yanganiswibu, ya usiku na mtana
Hayatakuwa sababu, ya kuniasa kunena
Kweli nitapoiyona, tanena siinyamai
Even if their torture went on without end,
Employed every tactic to debase and torment,
It would never be enough to make me relent.
Where I see truth I’ll speak it, I won’t be gagged.
Mateso yao yangawa, nda kuumiza mtima
Hayatakuwa ni dawa, ya kutonipa kusema
Ni bure wajisumbuwa, nilipo nnasimama
Si ‘mi wa kurudi nyuma, kweli ilipo ‘tasonga
Their abuses wound me, but my heart is unmoved.
My will to speak is strong; truth can’t be disproved.
They’re wasting their time. I will not be moved.
I’ll only go forward, only toward truth.
Ama hakika mwendani, kwa mwenye moyo wa sawa
Mateso ya duniani, wakati kijaaliwa
Hushukuru Rahamani, kajikaza kutukuwa
Nami yangawa yakuwa, hikaza moyo si ila
Those with worthy hearts, unbound by fear,
When the pain they are destined to suffer draws near,
Look to Merciful God, give thanks, and persevere.
I too stand firm, take strength for what comes.
Mateso humbadili, aso na moyo thabiti
Apawapo idhilali, japo ingawa katiti
Huona ni afadhali , awate yakwe ya dhati
Ela langu siliwati, nshishiyelo ni lilo
Torture will cause an unsteady will to dissolve.
Without strength of heart matters quickly devolve,
A man can lose faith, forget his resolve.
But I won’t let it go; this is what I hold fast.
Wangi washasumbuliwa, waneni wa kweli hiyo
Na wangi washauliwa, kwa kutobadili nyoyo
Na mimi nimeradhiwa, ku’yandama sera hiyo
‘Tafuwata zao nyayo, n’shishiyelo ni lilo
Many have been victims, I’m not the first.
Many have been killed who resisted the worst.
I’m ready to join them, my path can’t be reversed.
I’ll follow their footsteps; this is what I hold fast
Atwambizile Rasuli, kipenzi cha Bwana Mn’gu
Ya kwamba tuseme kweli, japokuwa i utungu
Na mimi siibadili, ni yiyo imani yangu
Nililoamini tangu, ni lilo hilo sil’ati
The Prophet Mohamed, cherished by the Lord,
Told us: speak truth, however bitter your reward.
This is the core of my faith, it cannot be stirred.
These beliefs of a lifetime, I won’t let them go.
Kweli naitiya tamma, nikuage ndugu yangu
Kweli si mwenye kukoma, kuwambiya walimwengu
Kweli si’yati kusema, katika uhai wangu
Nami kwa upande wangu, hi’yambiwa ‘takubali
Truly, let me end here; let this be my goodbye.
Truth will not go unspoken while I’m standing by.
Truly, in my lifetime, I won’t cease my cry.
And if my own turn should come, I’ll accept what is true.
Translated by Meg Arenberg