Upham's Corner Online

Poetry from Cape Verde

Posted: October 19, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

On October 22, 2011 the Dorchester Arts Collaborative included an all-afternoon set of poetry readings at the Pilgrim Church as part of their Open Studios 2011.

The Upham's Corner Improvement Association (UCIA) organized a set of four multi-cultural and multi-language poetry readings.  Daniel Correia read poetry in Cape Verdean Creole.

Nha fla-m, Nha Dunda, kus'e k'e batuku?
Nha nxina mininu kusa k'e ka sabe.
Nha fidju, batuku N ka se kusa.
Nu nase nu atxa-l.
Nu ta more nu ta dexa-l.
E lonji sima seu,
fundu sima mar,
rixu sima rotxa.
E usu-l tera, sabi nos genti.

Mosias na terreru
tornu finkadu, txabeta rapikadu,
Korpu ali N ta bai.
N ka bai. Aima ki txoma-m.
Nteradu duzia duzia na labada,
mortadjadu sen sen na pedra-l sistensia,
bendedu mil mil na Sul-a-Baxu,
kemadu na laba di burkan,
korpu ta matadu, aima ta fika.

Aima e forsa di batuku.
Na batuperiu-l fomi,
na sabi-l teremoti,
na sodadi-l fidju lonji,
batuku e nos aima.
Xinti-l, nha fidju.
Kenha ki kre-nu, kre batuku.
Batuku e nos aima! 

- Kaoberdiano Dambara
 (1964-Felisberto Vieira Lopes)
BATUKU (transl.) 

Tell me, Nha Dunda, what is Batuku?
Teach the children what they don't know.
My children, I don't know what butuku is.
We were born and we found it here.
We will die and we will leave it here.
It's off in the distance like the sky.
It's deep as the ocean,
hard as rock.
It is the ways of the land,
And it feels so fine, let me tell you.
Young girls on the dancing floor
with their hips ready to dance
under the clapping of txabeta*
the body ready to die,
but I won't die.
The soul is calling me
to dance batuku.

There were dozens and dozens of people
buried in a common grave.
Hundreds and hundreds of people buried
 in a shroud of stone in the disaster
of the Assistencia.**
Thousands and thousands of Cape Verdeans
forced to labor in Sao Tome,
some were burned in the lava of the volcano.
The body dies but the spirit stays.
The soul is the strength of the batuku,
in the time famine,
in the sharing of excitement,
in the longing for the son gone away,
batuku is our soul.
Feel it, my children,
Those who love us, love batuku.
Batuku is our soul!
--- Kaoberdiano Dambara
 (translation Manuel DaLuz Goncalves)
Cape Verde Islands


* Txabeta (tchabeta) refers to the rapid, synchronized hand clapping with open palms against cushions held tightly between the knees while someone dances the batuku. 

** "Assistencia" was the popular name of the colonial government's soup kitchen and welfare building in Praia. The walls of the building were made of round boulders gathered on the beach and held together with very little cement. One day in the 1940s the building collapsed, crushing hundreds of people. The incident is a metaphor for colonial neglect in Cape Verde.

Poetry from the website: http://tabanka.no/poesiakriolu.htm

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