April 27, 2016

 I stumbled upon this poem one rainy season while in high school and it has remained one of my favorites. It greatly reminded me of the El-nino rains that poured when I was in nursery school, and how for me, El-nino was just a fancy name for a lot of rain.

I remember merely feeling left out but not complaining, when my mother insisted I stay by her side whereas my siblings went to sleep at our neighbor’s the night our house flooded. I felt like they were going to so something fun there, that I wasn’t allowed to take part in. I would know! When mum wasn’t around, Wachuka (the kid next door) and I would run out into the pouring rain and loudly sing “Rain, rain go away. Come again another day.” I remember feeling like magic one time we sang that and the rain actually stopped!

 And when school had to be called off for sometime, I remember too, how thrilled I felt about that, and how good the cold brown water felt, running over my bare feet when my sisters and I- shoes in hand- stepped into the mini gulleys on the way home from school.

To date, I am amazed at how many ugly things one is shielded from just by being a child watching life unfold, never quite understanding why certain things happen but taking it all in pure childish stride.



Sometimes when it rains
I smile to myself
And think of times when as a child
I’d sit by myself
And wonder why people need clothes

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
when I’d run into the rain
shouting ‘Nkce – nkce mlanjana
when will I grow?
I’ll grow up tomorrow!’

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
when I watched goats
running so fast from the rain
while sheep seemed to enjoy it

Sometimes when it rains
I think of times
when we had to undress
carry the small bundles of uniforms and books
on our heads
and cross the river after school.

Sometimes when it rains
I remember times
when it would rain hard for hours
and fill our drum
so we didn’t have to fetch water
from the river for a day or two

Sometimes when it rains
rains for many hours without break
I think of people
who have nowhere to go
no home of their own
and no food to eat
only rain water to drink

Sometimes when it rains
rains for days without break
I think of mothers
who give birth in squatter camps
under plastic shelters
at the mercy of cold angry winds

Sometimes when it rains
I think of ‘illegal’ job seekers
in big cities
dodging police vans in the rain
hoping for darkness to come
so they can find some wet corner to hide in

Sometimes when it rains
rains so hard hail joins in
I think of life prisoners
in all the jails of the world
and wonder if they still love
to see the rainbow at the end of the rain

Sometimes when it rains
with hail stones biting the grass
I can’t help thinking they look like teeth
many teeth of smiling friends
then I wish that everyone else
had something to smile about.


Made of Sand
Not Dura, but Alaminadura


  • Khaya Ronkainen April 27, 2016

    Oh wow, thank you for posting this poem by one of the South African poets I admire. Reminds of home 🙂

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