Susan Kiguli is a Ugandan poet and a literary scholar. Her first collection of poetry, The African Saga, won the National Book Trust of Uganda Poetry Award in 1999. I was introduced to her work by Keguro Macharia, for which I’m grateful. Enjoy!
My Mother in Three Photographs
Her face looks out
her sexuality electric
in a mini dress and sheer satin stockings
the girls of the 1960s
beautiful beyond belief.
She is looking through the camera
like her space is here and beyond
enchanting and enchanted
by the times when dreams of freedom were young
the fortunes of Uganda
hot and sizzling.
My mother in the 1970s
More sombre but her skin
The abrasive years gentle on her youth.
Her body wrapped in a long nylon dress
stopping her ankles and
full sleeves touching her wrists
hooded sorrow in her posture
the flowing dress
is not because
she is a widow (which is by government action)
but it is a government decree.
Her magnificence and elegance
Seem to support the given name of the dress
Amin nvaako *.
My mother in the 1990s
neat short hair
luring in its intricate curls.
She wears a busuuti
a sign of the times
a return home, a finding of
a maturing of a woman and nation
an endorsement of a recognition of the troubles
she has weathered
a sitting down to count her losses and blessings
and a handover of the future.
—– by Susan Kiguli
* Amin Nvaako means Amin let me be or Amin leave me alone