Poems for the Penniless

These poems by Issa Shivji, lawyer, activist and Tanzanian public intellectual, were written at different times in different circumstances. They give vent to personal anguish and political anger. Mostly originally written in Kiswahili, here accompanied by English translations, and they are intensely personal and political.

Poems are clustered under several headings to provide a context. The first combines personal agony at the loss of comrades and friends with poems about love and affection for living ones. The second is about robberies of freedom, resources, and dignity and the loss of justice under neoliberalism. The third section, entitled Hopes and Fears, comprises short poems tweeted over the last five years expressing despair, fear and hope in the human capacity for freedom.

The last section are poems, concerned with Shivji’s period in South Africa in 2018, reflect on the emergence of neo-apartheid with its wanton and shameless exploitation of the majority.

Wonderfully translated by Ida Hadjivayanis.


ISBN Print: 978-1-988832-17-3
ISBN eBook: 978-1-988832-18-0
Publication Date: 5 May 2019
Page Count: 216
Binding Type: Soft cover
Trim Size: 6inx9in
Language: Kiswahili with English translations
Colour: B&W


Ida Hadjivayanis, the translator, earned her PhD in Translation at SOAS University of London where she currently lectures on Swahili and Translation. She is the Swahili translator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland- Alisi ndani ya nchi ya ajabu (2015) and…

    Issa Shivji was born in central Tanzania and grew up in Kilosa and Dar es Salaam. He graduated from the University of East Africa in 1970 and immediately joined the Faculty of Law, University of Dar es Salaam where he…

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