What is in the Tongue?

by Samra Mayanja

My mother tongue, is not mother’s one.
Whilst made of the same material substance
The tones, phonetics and connotations in our respective tongues were
Cemented under the glare of very different suns.

My mother sung, in her mother tongue, to her mothers and their mother’s
Or to her sisters, brothers and cousins.
But neglected that tongue when she spoke to us.
That small language.

It doesn’t mean much.

Won’t grow my cash and won’t get me no prize.
Why should my mother’s tongue be of any esteem?

My mother’s tongue strived for my mother tongue,
She dreamed of her seat amongst the dominant ones.
Lighter sounding perfect pronunciation to relay to her peers the newly lectured annunciation.

My mother tongue, grips my mother’s tongue.
She is often confined by my mother tongue that stripped our motherland of the Oral histories that my mother’s mother sung,
For the hymns that sedated the bellows to the great mother tree
A call that embellished the nights of those Mayanja’s and Kagona’s that stretched in the soils of this ancestry.
Yet my mother was told not to tell me.

I heard God loves Uganda, so we don’t need that shit anymore.

My mother tongue was once a baby one,
My maama refused to let her mother tongue perch too long on these ears,
In case I grabbed the “eh eh’s” and the “ewe’s” that adorn my mother’s tongue.
When I part my lips and speak. My mother’s smile tastes victory at the tip of her cheeks,
As she and they would say “nga I’m glad your mother tongue turned out this way”.

There was a time I enclosed myself within my mother tongue,
Able to window shop for other tongues except my mother’s one.
When I waited for the tide of my mother’s tongue to recede

That vernacular would force the threads of my mother tongue to bleed.

My mother’s tongue is my mother tongue.
I struggle to feed my tongue with my mother tongue
I can ease out those words with the songs that my mother and her mother’s mother sung

And when I am a mother.
When I am a mother, my daughter and son
Will know their mother’s tongue and their mother’s mother’s mother tongue
Undefined in difference and under the same sun.


What is in the Tongue?

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