In Dialogue with Afrika
Namibian poems by Hungiree Wilson Billawer
In Dialogue with Afrika is an inspiring anthology published late last year by Hungiree Wilson Billawer, a town planner by profession, who started writing poetry in the mid 90’s as a hobby.
“Develop a sense of love for Africa and improving Africa” is his main message for the public as they read his poems. The anthology is a collection of 102 poems, of which 60 are in English, 40 in Otjiherero, one in Afrikaans, one in French, five in both English and Otjiherero and one in all four languages.
Unable to attend his grandmother’s funeral while in Europe studying, he wrote his first poem about his grandmother, to comfort himself after her death. He admits to having drawn inspiration from activities around him, emotions such as happiness, sadness and observations of what was happening at the time. The themes of the poems vary between war, peace, love, African traditions, Pan Africanism. For motivation he stated that “Africa fascinates me, and I look for ways to improve situations in Africa.” Growing up in Tsumeb, attending secondary school in Windhoek, then studying Urban Development and Town Planning at Unam, in France and at Bloemfontein, South Africa, it was many years before he returned to Namibia
Hungiree said he would like the public to read and appreciate his work. After writing so many poems over the years he was hesitant to publish at first but he was excited after he was approached Wordweaver and received a positive response. The project was funded by the National Arts Council of Namibia. “I was afraid that in the editing process my message might be changed or words adjusted, but that wasn’t the case”
In Dialogue with Afrika by Hungiree Wilson Billawer is available at Book Den and at the National Library.
Below is an extract from his book:
In dialogue with Afrika, pg.55
Dear knobkerrie, are you a friend, a medical doctor or a fortune-teller Dear knobkerrie, child of the black and white cow Dear knobkerrie, you from the beautiful raisin bush That carries sweet wild dry raisins Are you friend, a medical doctor or a fortune-teller? When I brag it’s you by me When I hunt or guard sheep, it’s you by me When I am attacked, it’s you by me When I stumble due to age, it’s you by me Are you a friend, a medical doctor? Tempting marriage it’s you by my side Accompanying the bridegroom to kraal it’s you by my side Concluding the wedding it’s you to be taken back Redirecting the lobola cow it’s you by my side Are you a friend, a medical doctor or a fortune-teller? Knobkerrie of Nangue, how did you meet life Knobkerrie, elaborate how you Afrika met Knobkerrie, explain your path-crossing with that of humans Knobkerrie, who are you and from whom are you?