Tuesday, February 7, 2017

About the Kanga and Writing on the front cover

                                        EVERY  BIRD  FLIES  ON  ITS  OWN  WINGS

KILA NDEGE HURUKA NA MBAWA ZAKE is a kanga mithali or proverb that literally translates as EVERY BIRD FLIES ON ITS OWN WINGS in Swahili.  It’s a mithali that implies a journey. People translate this proverb in many ways depending on the context and situation at the particular time in their life’s journey. Birds appear in Quranic verses giving metaphorical meaning in stories about Islam’s prophets: Abraham, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, Joseph and David. The Swahili society is rooted in Arabic and African cultures over centuries of mixing and travelling. In fact, the Swahili word mithali comes from Arabic mithal meaning an example or a model that can also be a person’s name.

Some would say the kanga proverb about the bird means that one makes one’s life according to one’s ability or with what one has in terms of material possession. It simply means you accept life with what’s yours or what’s given to you by God. Others relate the proverb to mean life is a destiny and that’s where life’s journey will take you like saying: ‘You are what you have’ or that ‘You’ll get what’s yours’. A teacher or parent would counsel children using this proverb: ‘You have potential to overcome (or succeed) with what you have’. Or it can mean the opposite: ‘Realize that you have limitations’ depending on the context.

Every bird flies on its own wings also means that what one does in life is within oneself or that actions are one’s own responsibility. Then there are other people who think in collective ways. They would say the proverb tells you that one has one’s own family, home, country and culture to carry one along life’s journey.

Philosophers will tell you KILA NDEGE HURUKA NA MBAWA ZAKE actually means that each human being is an individual. He/she alone makes his/her journey through life like a bird on wings making its own path.

A bird flying on its wings intones imagery of the sky above and the land below. A mortal’s walk through life is like the flight of a bird between the earth and the sky. 

Sultan Somjee
Autumn, 2016


I Love  my Khanga
by Shariffa Keshavjee 

The paisley design
The khorosho design 
Reminiscent of the nut
Nature made it all
Before you and I 

The intricate mandalas 
Like the galaxy above 
Planets and myriad stars 
In orbit by the Divine 
Before you and I 

The joy of a dancing step
Sets off the colour divine 
I am the Lord of the dance 
The dance of angels divine 
His grace thought it all 
Before you and I 

I beckon to My Lord 
In humble appeal 
To bless my heart 
With infinite patience 
That was there always
Before you and I 

Magenta and pink meld 
In Bandhani harmony
Fine feathers maketh
Not a beautiful bird 
All praise is due to Him
Before you and I 

Foliage circles 
Circles and squares 

Foliage and bird combine 
Centre adorned by borders
Where the bird lands
Is it's chosen place
Before you and I 

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