"Dawn of Darkness," A Poem by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong

"Dawn of Darkness," A Poem by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Knowing we are currently in a pandemic, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o graciously wrote this poem and would like it to be shared widely. We hope it brings you comfort. The poem was written on March 23, 2020. Read it and share!

Information provided by Brittle Paper


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o



Dawn of Darkness


I know, I know,


It threatens the common gestures of human bonding


The handshake,


The hug


The shoulders we give each other to cry on


The Neighborliness we take for granted


So much that we often beat our breasts


Crowing about rugged individualism,


Disdaining nature, pissing poison on it even, while


Claiming that property has all the legal rights of personhood


Murmuring gratitude for our shares in the gods of capital.


Oh how now I wish I could write poetry in English,


Or any and every language you speak


So I can share with you, words  that


Wanjikũ, my Gĩkũyũ mother, used to tell me:


Gũtirĩ ũtukũ ũtakĩa:


No night is so Dark that,


It will not end in Dawn,


Or simply put,


Every night ends with dawn.


Gũtirĩ ũtukũ ũtakĩa.


This darkness too will pass away


We shall meet again and again


And talk about Darkness and Dawn


Sing and laugh maybe even hug


Nature and nurture locked in a green embrace


Celebrating every pulsation of a common being


Rediscovered and cherished for real


In the light of the Darkness and the new Dawn.



Ngugi has said that the poem is “a response to doggerel by neighbor Janet DiVincenzo, and offerings by Mukoma wa Ngugi, of Cornell University and Naveen Kishore of Seagull Publishers, Kolkata, India.” You can find Mukoma’s and Kishore’s poems here.


Brittle Paper is an online literary magazine for readers of African Literature. We are Africa’s premier online literary brand inspiring readers to explore and celebrate African literary experiences in all its diversity.  Brittle Paper’s mission is to cultivate a fun and informative platform for readers who love literature from Africa and to inspire, entertain, and empower readers through an optimistic, diverse, and immersive experience of literature.

Published: Monday, August 31, 2020