My Canvas

Stretched over decades and oceans is the canvas of my life, too long away from the polite, humble Africa; its music, its street life, its vast empty fields, its thick forests, and mkokotenis [rickshaws] delaying cars on the road. My heart's longing thrives on the call and response of songs; carrying me decades, across oceans, and then it all seems like just yesterday.
Where are those Songs
Where are those Songs
my mother and yours
always sang
fitting rhythms
to the whole
vast span of life?
Sing daughter sing
around you are
uncountable tunes
some sung
others unsung
sing them
to your rhythms
soak yourself
in the stream of life
and then sing
simple songs
for the people
for all to hear
and learn
and sing
with you.

From Where are those Songs (Daughter of My People Sing! 1972) by Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo, Ph.D. A former student of my mother, to this day Dr. Mugo calls her Mwalimu [teacher].

Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo, Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University, is a poet, playwright and literary critic who has published 6 books, 8 co-edited supplementary school readers, 3 monographs and edited the journal, Third World in Perspective. Other titles include: Daughter of My People, Sing!; My Mother’s Poem and Other Songs; The Long Illness of Ex-Chief Kiti; Visions of Africa and The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (co-authored with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o ). In November 2002, The East African Standard Century listed Mĩcere among “The Top 100: They Influenced Kenya Most During the 20th Century.” A committed community activist, Mĩcere is a passionate advocate for human rights especially as they have historically been denied to Blacks, women, children, the masses and other marginalized groups.


  1. Those are some wonderfully inspirational words!

  2. beautiful, beautiful!! come back! xxx j

  3. Ma chere Mama Shujaa,

    Merci beaucoup pour ces Mots! Dein Blog ist fuer mich eine richtige Inspiration.

    Liebe Gruesse,


  4. Ms. Bar B

    :-) Just like you said on your Friday Fill-Ins, good conversation is so nourishing.

    Mama S.

  5. Janelli

    Hata mimi sipendi "quickies". Lakini sometimes they help move us along. :-)

    Mama S.

  6. Ma chere Rose-Anne

    Merci pour ces mots d'encouragement!

    Tchuss meine freundin,

    Mama Shujaa.

  7. How can I describe the effect your writings have on me.... it's a warm glow that wraps me up, like an old comfortable blanket that you've had for years, like that 100 year old congnac that you swirl in your mouth and delay the need to swallow it until at last you can no longer hold off and then - you smile...

    keep up the writing - I love it

  8. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for that beautifully appetizing distillation of our creative journeys!!!

    Mama Shujaa

  9. Always inspiring, always refreahing. I am always looking forward to reading Mama Shujaa's stories everyday before I start my day.
    You were born to write.Merci beaucoup indeed!!!!!!!!
    Mrs Njie

  10. Dear Mrs. Njie,

    Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts.

    Much love,

    Mama Shujaa

  11. Oh, you've stolen my heart. In the nicest possible way, though. I, too, am an African who yearns...who aches...for home. It is pure serendipity that I discovered your blog and your eloquent prose. Oh, I'm so glad I have!

    Thank you, too, for introducing Micere Githae Mugo and 'Where are those Songs'. I remember the rhythms so clearly. In fact, they are my pulse beat.

  12. Well, Tessa,

    It is so good to meet you! I stopped by really briefly and saw your beautiful art! I'll be back again soon!!!

    Mama Shujaa

  13. This speaks so tenderly to my heart,

    I am so glad to know you Mama Shujaa,

    You are truly a kindred spirit on the journey,

    Much love,


  14. Maithri,

    Just as you said in your recent post, "we are each other's angels, we meet when the time is right."

    Much love and blessings to you my friend.

    Mama Shujaa.


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