Lake Kivu (Kihunde / EN)

Lake Kivu was bleeding

I lingered at his bedside

The rain was beating the horizon

Golden droplets sprang up on the foam

The sun was exploring the north of the lake

A facetious nsu (eagle, vulture) smiled at me

Traveler, turn off your phone,

Let’s go visit the red-flowered tree

Must I ishênda (drown by being swept away by the waves)

To get your attention?

A bird has landed on the banks of my heart

A kighogho (lying tree trunk) challenged me

« To prove your intentions are sincere,

You must go and get, » he said.

The most precious dress in this forest

It is woven in the light of the moon.

The red ants took me to the moon

Sweat beaded from my pale forehead

This feeling that haunts me

Should I ânika (dry in the sun)?

Traveler, I walked a hundred days to find you

Even the stars were crying

What is the use of itsiira (to love)

If it is to drown in an infernal sky?

The sun was playing blind man’s bluff

Burning the pearly forehead of the star

The light seemed kîpfûwûto (curdled milk)

And the sky spat out an opaque ash

I tried to escape from my prison

But the rays of the kiôma (full moon) caught me

I whispered your name a hundred times, traveler,

In my prison of light

Then I threaded on a raffia thread

Every idea that was meant for you

And I braided a long rope

To come down to earth

The sapphire of the starry vault

Gave way under my heavy heart;

I found the ground of Congo-Kinshasa

Traveler, I take you by boat

On the lake of Kivu

The night is cold and insensitive

Protect yourself with my fabric of light

The ants know our secret

I have traveled to the moon,

While the lake of Kivu was burning

The isûba (the sun) covers my forehead with sweat

The mirror of the water shakes now,

The red ants have stopped their agitation

Take my hand,

In the field of the beer banana trees,

Let’s free the birds from their wooden cage

The Nyiragongo volcano

Spits its fury on the morning

The stars envy our smile

A pink flash tears the sky

Our luêndo (journey) begins here

The ghosts accompany us

Take this bike, it still runs

Let’s leave the banks of Lake Kivu

The red ants warned me

The brown eagles conjured me

To abandon you to the memory

But my heart flies away like a petal

I did not listen to them

I wrung out every second of time,

Like a wet dress

I went looking for you

You see? Here is the isînda (tomb) of a star

Traveler throw your cigarette,

The moon is watching us from its trapeze

Let’s leave this bunch of ferns

I am the mushiyi (servant) of poetry

I burn under this tropical rain

I have exchanged my soul for your smile

The sap flows from the seductive trees

Night falls on Lake Kivu

I bring black gloves carved

In the wood of the castor tree

And my dress embroidered with light

I will sacrifice every grain of mushêe (sand)

For a word from your mouth

The wind rushes through my brown locks,

It makes me take off from the ground

My dress spreads on the earth

Like a puddle of dried blood

I fell asleep on the banks of the Kivu

In a cradle of white light

I sacrificed all my money and possessions

For a second in your arms

This bilôto (dream) drapes the lunar horizon

The morning devours our misty souls

The light seems kîpfûwûto (curdled milk)

Traveler, I take you by boat

To the isînda (the tomb) of a star

Our luêndo (journey) begins here

I fell asleep on the banks of the Kivu

Traveler throw your cigarette,

The wind rushes through my brown locks,

My heart flies away like a petal,

Night falls on Lake Kivu

Must I ishênda (drown by being swept away by the waves)

To get your attention?

I am the mushiyi (servant) of this poetry,

I burn under this tropical rain

The red ants warned me

The ghosts are with us

Take my hand,

Let’s go visit the red-flowered tree

Lake Kivu is bleeding

The rain beats the horizon

The isûba (the sun) covers our foreheads with sweat

Note: Kihunde is a Bantu language and is one of the national languages of Congo-Kinshasa. It is spoken in the Kivu region in the east of the country.

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