Friday, January 22, 2016

The Life and Times of Sam Moyo

For, that was Sam


We’ve grieved enough,

Now is the time to celebrate,

Celebrate a life,

Life of dignity and decency.

Sam was not just a scholar,

Not just a researcher,

Not just a comrade and a brother,

But a great human being.

No one could be better than Brian,

To fill in the context and the times,

Of Sam’s intellectual formation,

And his treasured contribution.

I need not fiddle,

Lest I spoil the broth, 

And invoke Sam’s smiling disapproval.

Yes, in disapproval too he smiled.

That was Sam!


I remember that day,

Many years ago,

The year I don’t remember,

But I remember Sam’s glistening eyes. 

We were bundled together,

In Mbagala Spiritual Centre,

For no spiritual reason,

But for a better reason, reason of frugality.

Three and five star hotel,

Hakiardhi didn’t covet,

Not that it was stingy, no,

But it saved; saved to pay for Sam’s fare.

Sam was lecturing, not to scholars or researchers,

Nor to preachers or propagandists, no.

He was conversing with peasants and pastoralists,

Maasai from Monduli, Women from Meatu.

In English he spoke, in Swahili we heard (through interpreter),

In eye-to-eye contact, in body-to-body language,

The audience was enthralled, Sam was thrilled.

Danced he, yes, to the grunts of pleasure and nods of approval.

They shook his hand and hugged him tight,

Huyu ni mwenzetu, they said,

He is one of us, I translated.

Sam’s eyes glistened.

That was Sam!


It was 2nd Nyerere Intellectual Festival, I believe,

Sam was in the front row, as Secondary School troupe walked in,

Sisi ni watoto wa Afrika, they sang,

Tujivunie Afrika yetu, they intoned.

I could see from the corner of my eye,

Sam was sumptuously taking it in,

He couldn’t restrain,

A tear ran down his cheek.

The MC announced,

The lyrics were by none other than Issa bin Mariam.

Sam gave me a long warm look,

My single human accolade, worth many an intellectual compliment. 

Never stingy in praise,

Never short of warmth and kindness,

Arrogance was foreign to him,

Humility was his second nature.

That was Sam!


It was August or September ,

Of the fateful year, 2015,

Sam accompanied Beatrice to Dar,

For Dar he liked.

Closeted in the hotel room during the day,

He worked intensely, smoked profusely.

Biriyani we ate, which he liked.

Pilipili mbuzi, he consumed, (alone), which he loved.

He only drank Savannah,

I assure you Beatrice,

For nothing else was on offer,

Under Parin’s strict command.

What an evening we had the next day,

With Beatrice and Kamata, Sam, Parin and I,

Indulging in nostalgia of the past,

Sharing hopes and fears for the future.

Kamata’s car wouldn’t start, 

We pushed and pushed, stubborn it proved,

Beatrice’s plea for taxi fell on deaf ear,

Sam didn’t want to hear.

(‘Coz he wanted to stay longer).

That was Sam!


This is not a poem,

Nor a flowery prose,

Much less a presentation,

For I’m good at none.

It is a humble present,

To my comrade,

And brother,

And a great human being.

Yes, a great human being,

For, that was Sam.



Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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