Amina

1. Amina umejitenga, kufa umetangulia, Amina, you have cut yourself off, you have gone ahead (of me) in death,
Kama ua umefunga, baada ya kuchanua, Like a flower (that) has closed, after blooming,
Nakuombea mwanga, Peponi kukubaliwa, I pray for a light for you, (that you) be received in Heaven,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
   
2. Nilitaka unyanyuke, kwa kukuombea dua, I wanted you to rise up, by offering up a prayer for you,
Sikupenda ushindike, maradhi kukuchukua, I did not want you to be laid low, for sickness to carry you off,
Ila kwa rehema yake, Mungu amekuchagua, But through his grace, God has chosen you,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
   
3. Majonzi hayaneneki, kila nikikumbukia, My grief is unspeakable, every time I think (of you),
Nawaza kile na hiki, naona kama ruia, I think of that and this, I see it like a dream,
Mauti siyasadiki, kuwa mwisho wa dunia, I do not believe in death, that it is the end of the world,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
   
4. Nasaidiki haziozi, roho hazitapotea, I believe that they do not rot, the souls will not be lost,
Twafuata wokozi, kwa mauti kutujia, We seek salvation, from death coming to us,
Nawe wangu mpenzi, Peponi utaingia, And even you my love, you will enter Heaven,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
   
5. Jambo moja nakumbuka, sahihi ninalijua, I remember one thing, for certain I know it,
Kuwa sasa umefika, ta’bu isikosumbua, That now you have arrived, where trouble does not affect you,
Kwayo nimefurahika, nyuma nilikobakia, I rejoice in that, back here where I remained,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
   
6. Ninamaliza kutunga, kwa kukuombea dua, I am finishing composing, by offering up a prayer for you,
Vumbi tena likiunga, roho likirudishiwa, And as the dust (of the body) comes together again, as it is being infused with spirit,
Mauti yakijitenga, mapenzi yatarejea, As death sets itself aside, love will return,
Mapenzi tuliyofunga, hapana wa kufungua. Love that we have tied together, there is no one to untie it.
Summary

Shaaban wrote this in memory of his wife Amina.  While death cuts us off from those whom we love, the separation is not permanent. Love cannot be extinguished.  As a Muslim he believes in an after-life and the ultimate resurrection of the reunited body and soul and so the eventual reunion with those whom we love.

Two other translations are given here for comparative purposes.  One by C. Ndulute (1994) and the other by A. Jahadhmy (1975). See below after the Glossary.

Glossary

chanua           [v. cv.]             Open (flowers, their petals), grow, open its buds (plant), bloom (Brill). Put out leaves (of plants generally) (FJ). Amina umejitenga, kufa umetangulia, Kama ua umefunga, baada ya kuchanua; Amina, you have cut yourself off, you have gone ahead (of me) in death, Like a flower (that) has closed, after blooming (SR-A1).

furahika         [v. st.]              Be full of joy, be in a happy way, be delighted (TJH). Kwayo nimefurahika, nyuma nilikobakia, I rejoice in that, back here where I remained (SR-A5).

majonzi            [n. 6]               Sorrow, grief, mourning, sadness (FJ). Majonzi hayaneneki, kila nikikumbukia, The grief is unspeakable, every time I think (of you) (SR-A3).

neneka            [v. st. & pot.]   Be spoken, be mentioned; (2) be utterable, be such as can be expressed in words, be fit for mention (FJ). Majonzi hayaneneki, kila nikikumbukia, The grief is unspeakable, every time I think (of you) (SR-A3).

nyanyuka       [v. St. & Pot.]  Be prominent, rise above the rest, stick up, stick out (FJ). Nilitaka unyanyuke, kwa kukuombea dua, I wanted you to rise up, by offering up a prayer for you (SR-A2).

ruia                 [n. 9/10]          Vision, sight, dream; idea, concept (Brill). See ruiya & ruya ndoto; njozi (KKS). Nawaza kile na hiki, naona kama ruia, I think of that and this, I see it like a dream (SR-A3).

sahihi             [adv.]               For certain, for sure (TJH). See –sahihi v. correct, put right… and sahihi adj. right, valid… (FJ). Jambo moja nakumbuka, sahihi ninalijua, I remember one thing, for certain I know it (SR-A5).

shindika        [v. St. & Pot.]  Be pressed down, be held down, be brought low, be laid low (TJH). Be overcome, conquered… (FJ). Sikupenda ushindike, maradhi kukuchukua, I did not want you to be laid low, for sickness to carry you off (SR-A2).

tangulia         [v. appl.]          Arrive early, precede, walk in front, go first, eat first; pioneer, lead, accompany; direct, show the way; be quicker than (FJ). Amina umejitenga, kufa umetangulia, Kama ua umefunga, baada ya kuchanua; Amina, you have cut yourself off, you have gone ahead (of me) in death, Like a flower (that) has closed, after blooming (SR-A1).

tenga               [v. tr.]              Isolate, cut off from, seclude, set aside (TJH). Separate, keep away, remove, exile, excommunicate (FJ). Weka kando (KKS). See –jitenga seclude oneself (CWR). Amina umejitenga, kufa umetangulia, Kama ua umefunga, baada ya kuchanua; Amina, you have cut yourself off (from us), you have gone ahead (of us) in death, Like a flower (that) has closed, after blooming (SR-A1).

wokozi           [n. 14]             Salvation, deliverance (TJH). See –okoa save, rescue, deliver, preserve; -okoza exert oneself to save, rescue (FJ). Twafuata wokozi, kwa mauti kutujia, We seek salvation, from death coming to us (SB-A4).

Ndulute”s Translation:

  1. Amina, You’ve distanced yourself

Death has taken you first

You are like a flower that closes after opening out

May light be with you and Heaven receive you,

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

2. I prayed that you might rise again,

I did not want you to succumb to illness

But by His grace, The Lord chose you;

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

3. The grief is unspeakable whenever I remember you

I think of this and of that, all is like a dream

I am unconvinced that death is the end of the world;

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

4. I believe souls will neither decay nor be lost

We follow salvation when death snatches us

And you, my love, will surely enter Paradise;

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

5. One thing I remember, of this I am certain

You have now arrived where trouble dare not tread

This heartens me where I remain;

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

6.  As I lay my pen down, I pray for you

When dust remoulds you and your soul is restored

When Death stands apart, love must return;

The love-knot we made, none will untie.

 

Jahadhmy’s Translation:

  1. Amina, the choice has fallen on you to go

Like a rose-bud you’ve shut, after you had blossomed,

I pray for you a light leading you to heaven.

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

  1. I longed for your return to health, to this end I prayed

I wish you had not lost, succumbing to the ailment,

God’s own dictum that it shall be, the choice has been yours to go.

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

  1. My grief is past description, whenever I dwell on you

This and that memory come back, it’s now but a dream,

I believe not that death betokens the end of life.

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

  1. Unperishable, I believe, is the soul, forever it will live,

Death is a salvation, come when it comes,

My beloved precious, in Heaven thou shall dwell.

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

  1. One thing for certain I know and remember,

You now dwell, where distress will touch you not again,

That is recompense for me left now behind.

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

6. The poem concludes with a prayer to you,

When dust and dust reunite and the soul returneth,

And death is no mpre, love shall be reborn,

The love that binds us together, none other can unbind.

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Discovering Swahili Poetry