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Gems from Voice(s)

Created and narrated by Sitawa Namalie

These poems were borne out of active observation of and participation in the 2019 Inclusion Innovation Indaba in Nairobi. By Sitawa Namalie, an award-winning Kenyan poet who was one of the three facilitators.

This load

This poem is based on the experiences as told by the senior women market porters from Djokyakarta, Indonesia from empowerment grantee Yasanti

This load, I carry in my soul,
This load that weighs me down,
It buckles my knees,
It turns my legs into bows,
Sometimes it weighs me so far down, that my hands reach down to cradle the earth.
This load,
May this burden be only mine,
May it not jump from me onto the backs of my children,
This load

My son

This poem is based on listening to Dewi Tjakrawinata, founder of YAPESDI, an empowerment grantee from Indonesia More importantly she is also the proud mother of Morgan, a young man with Down syndrome.

My son is a butterfly,
He is gentle love purring like the stroking of a cat.
Our love, me and his melds, suffuses the air,
Breaking into,
Iridescent colours, azre, cerulean, sapphire and sage,
My son is a butterfly.


This poem is based on listening to the many voices of senior participants from Tanzania, Indonesia and the Philippines. it refers to the self-exclusion as well as exclusion by society.

Before the elderly were forgotten, 
They forgot themselves, 
revelled in their youth,  Dancing to Beyonce, 
Primping through the walkways of life, cigarette in one hand, wine in the other, 
In love with a new car, they sped down highways. 
One day they woke up old, discarded, expired… Is that not what you think?


The below words are based on the stories from people with albinism from Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

My mother takes me to school,
But my teacher says,
Go to the back of the class and hide, we don’t want to see you,
But I can’t see so far back,
I have low melanin in my eyes.
That pigment which concentrates so intensely in you,
Turning you into a pariah in a world of pale faced beauty, is missing in me,
I wish we could share your melanin.
It would save us both.


This poem is based on the experiences of mothers and fathers caring for children with mental disabilities. For example from the Ike Foundation from Nigeria or Step-by-Step Learning centre from Tanzania.

You are a catalyst for choice,
You are a seed of a tree,
A tree not of your own making,
A seed not of your choice,
And yet you must choose.
Yesterday is history,
Today is the gift,
Start from the ache in your soul,
Sit in the pain lacerating your heart,
Embrace the anguish of your child,
And choose,
If you will not accept your own child,
What will the world do to him?


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