I Have Gone Away Many Times

Moses Mtileni

Children of the night
Chorus to the night
He Xikoriyo heee              

We sing Xikoriyo chasing the dark and weight of sleep
I of the night have gone away many times
From the dry rivers that nurtured fish that fed me
And dry tree branches graced by birds praying for rains
Lightning that thundered flames that consumed crumbling huts
And dying bushes that once sheltered the snake and the rabbit

To bustling cities on whose streets a thousand languages flow
And strangers drinking blood with guns
Love chokes here from the rushed greed for wealth stolen
And birds become passersby whose landing songs are cursed

Children of the night
Invaders singing
Ka nhwe mi dya yini                       What do you eat in your father’s homestead
Hi dya maxalani                              We eat corn

From fields of nourishing greens and nourished livestock
Wealth that exploded clans unfolding to cover the land
The fat squeezed by imposed dog tax and hut tax
The brutal force of those who reap where they did not sow

To pregnant cities that have hatched casinos where human lives are tokens
Where wealth is buried in stones with names and prices and owners
Glittering stones planting angina in the bleeding heart of justice
A dog with teeth buried on a bone does not bark 

Echoes far away
Children of the light
Tihuku ke                                             And the chickens
Ti dya vusokoti                                  They eat ants

From the rambling drums and wild dances of my forefathers
Bones that speak and a marula tree that smokes and drinks
Embrace buildings that tower to kiss the skies
The hope and promises of a New Jerusalem in a land eroded by rot

Echoes nearby
Children of the night
Hi khoma N’wamani                        Who are we catching
N’waXitihlwani                                  The one-eyed-one

We sing Xikoriyo chasing the weight and dark of sleep
I of the light have gone away many times
Returned many times to find patterns that turned me foreign
Here where we all ate from the same pot once
Listened to parables and idioms and folktales around whispering fires
Here in these ruins that stand deserted by love

Chorus to the night
Children of the night
He Xikoriyo heee                              

translated from the Xitsonga by Moses Mtileni