Friday, July 29, 2005


Wake up woman!
The cock is crowing;
It's 3 a.m.
Wake up- it's time to weed the fields
in the distant hills.
Sleep no more;
Arise from the burdens of yesterday,
Forget the hours of toil
In that hot sun
That arose when you worked in the field
But set while you hurried to clear the weeds.
In the dark you return, as you left,
To those empty cooking pots.
Alas! the day is over
When the family enjoys the day's meal
But before you rest your feet
A voice calls: Woman get me hot water!
With that you know it's over
Until the cock crows
And the circle begins again:
Wake up woman!
Wake up woman!

by Assumpta Acam-Oturu, Uganda.

I came across this poem two years ago, in a book entitled "Eye to eye, women", beautifully compiled by Anita Desai, a fabulous indian novelist.
Even though the poem doesn't strike me as an amazing piece of writing, there was something in it that made me read it again, and again, and again.
I particularly liked its rhythm, its circular repetitive structure, the simplicity of the short sentences. If you see, its connection with nature is made in a more realistic and less idyllic way and there is much said in it in such a short melodic way!
We can feel through these words a tired working body, obeying its duties in life, surviving and waiting for release. The cycle of life is therefore implicit, and behind this cycle we feel a strong energetic will to carry on despite the difficulties, a strength of character and an understanding of daily life in the big picture that is very feminine, utterly being an expression of womankind.
Women in Uganda, as in most parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, still do most of the work- they grow and cook food, gather water and wood, and take charge of rasing children. I like particularly the fact that it was written by one of these women, and so I believe the context in which it was written to be extremely relevant.

When I found this poem, hidden in a small southwestern british library, I had just arrived from India myself, and was very in touch with the different ways of women, their roles, differences and similarities.I had realized by looking at women's positions in politics, in their religions, in their families and in their culture in the east, my own position as a woman in the western world and in this universe, and most crucially I understood there weren't many differences between east and west, on a deeper level.
I decided then it was time for a deeper reflection on this important social, political and also spiritual issue. Women studies, women movements needed an artistic and simultaneously realistic approach, that would be all encompassing, whilst specific.
To become aware is to resist. There are enough women in this era well enough aware that their self-sufficience, education, and involvement in politics is so important that they need to undertake some serious action.
It is to them that I'm now working.


Blogger anabaldaia said...

Wake Up Woman - what a
title. I agree we all need to wake up and realise
that the testosterone that is running this world is
destroying it - RAPIDLY. But I am a believer, I think
the revolution is coming and all we need is for the
women of this planet to take serioulsy their
responsiblitiy to bring the feminine forth and we can
transform the religious wars, the political disasters,
and heal mother earth herself by cleaning up the
environement. And lets face it women are the ones
always stuck with the dirty work of cleaning up after
men! Khrystina (Toronto/Canada)

4:48 AM  

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