Author: Hawa Kimbugwe
Where is the book found: Uganda Museum Library
Length: 59 pages
As a spoken word poet, Hawa Kimbugwe relies on rhetorical skill to construct a poem on the foundation of tropes.
A trope, in poetic terms, is a unit of rhetoric.
Hawa deploys tropes like a general would an infantry and thereby steals the march on many other spoken word practitioners.
This time she transitions from the stage to the page with her book, “Phases”.
In it, tropes are mobilized to rage against the dying of any lyrical light:
“I need to unpack my bones
I need to know my essence
And the purpose for my existence
My heart needs to converse
Without lips and ears
I want to know why for all these years
My eyes verbalise my grief
As I endeavour to reform, inform and transform
To realities that only stop in my ideals…”
This poem, entitled I want to meet God, betrays an earnestness of spirit in the persona.
In doing so, the smooth satin of the persona’s silken words intensifies its rhetorical effect.
Two notable devices deployed in this endeavor are Contrast (antithesis) and oxymoron.
The latter, by definition, is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear together, such as her wanting to converse without lips or ears.
This contrasts with convention since conversation is mainly done with both lips and ears, when one is not using sign language. And clearly, the persona is not.
This ordering of words and the components of these words grow into an argument.
Namely, on the spiritual realm, conversing with God is implied as non-verbal and thereby transcendent of every day verbal exchanges.
However, this spirituality is done away with in the poem: Love is Just a Word:
“Well, Love is a doing word.
A verb that merely goes beyond emotion
Emotions that keep your mind in motion,
To intense images you envision
Visions that streamline you to a mission
A mission that only gets you asking the same question
What is Love?”
In this poem, the persona examines love’s practical relevance and not its rhapsodic significance.
The persona prefers love as a verb instead of a noun, and this preference translates to the poem’s diction to give it movement with end rhymes such as “emotion/motion” and internal rhymes (multiple words in the same line rhyming): “In a bid to take a bow and get low”.
Moreover, “low” and “bow” are long vowels which point to assonance or “the resemblance of sound between syllables of nearby words”.
The persona’s use of these words guide the reader’s eye towards the expert use of rhyme and rhythm in the same fashion a dance partner would lead a jig.
Throughout this anthology, Hawa’s almost playful use of words reveals a poet who is having fun.
Take a look at the poem, “Let me teach you how to vibe me”:
“Don‟t tell me words like “I like you” or “I feel you,” come on!
Those are the same words I‟ve heard since I was ten, so that‟s too stale
Don‟t tell me things like “I dream about, think about and miss you”
Because of course, I‟ll do nothing about that, so still your problem won‟t be solved
Don‟t say that you love me because the best I‟ll do is say
Thank you, so still I won‟t be moved.
Don‟t lie to me that I‟m the only girl you see South of the Sahara and North of Limpopo,
because that‟s not news.
And don‟t call me names like chick because my mother is not a hen.”
“Vibe” is an urban Ugandan colloquialism which basically means to seduce.
This is one of the funniest poems in a collection which ranges from the religious, political, lighthearted and technically proficient to offer the reader an exceedingly delicious poetry buffet.