Introducing Nancy Saili of Zambia: interview and contest-winning poem
Nancy Saili of Zambia was selected as one the 20 international winners of the 2014 Global Dialogues youth writing contest for the poem she wrote about incest. Today it is our great pleasure to introduce Nancy by sharing the text of a recent interview with her, as well as to present her winning poem in its entirety at the end of this blog post. Please meet a remarkable young woman:
a) Tell us a little bit about yourself, please, Nancy Saili.
I come from a small town called Solwezi in North-Western Province of Zambia. I am very creative, have a strong passion for the environment and enjoy writing, reading, travelling, photography and I am a lover of all things ART. I am a graduate of Mulungushi University and hold a Bachelor’s degree in Land and Water Resources Management.
b) The poem that you wrote for the 2014 Global Dialogues contest really touched the hearts and minds of the international jurors. What’s the story behind that poem, Nancy?
The poem was inspired by a true life story/stories. I actually wrote it before I even heard about the contest and was encouraged to submit it by a friend who had read it. At the time I wrote it, cases of incest linked to rape had become all too common and it broke my heart to know young girls are not safe even in their own homes, the one place where we all deserve to feel safe, comfortable and loved. I did a lot of research on the topic because I wanted to write a piece that would move any reader to act.
c) You were one of the 20 international winners of the 2014 Global Dialogues contest. What has your victory meant for you and those who are close to you?
The win came as a shock to me. I thought a poem would not stand a chance in an international contest but I entered it anyway because I wanted it to be read internationally and hopefully touch a heart or two. I was very excited when I got the call that I was among the 20; my friends and family were all happy for me. The win has served as a great source of encouragement and motivation for me to take writing seriously and speak for others through it.
d) These days, young people have so many different things that they could be doing with their time. The deadline for this year’s Global Dialogues contest is 31 March. You’re taking the lead in mobilizing participants for the contest in Zambia. What arguments are you using to encourage people to take part?
I like to quote a famous writer, Mk Asante who says “I write down to speak up.” The Global Dialogues entries are not just read and thrown away after prizes are awarded. Ideas are passed on to decision makers and winning ideas are turned into films that are viewed by over 200,000,000 people online and on TV, some of who go on to act on these issues to make a positive change in our world. I think it’s simply amazing and that to me is the definition of speaking up, and I encourage everyone to participate because you never know whose life your story may save.
STORIES TOLD A poem by Nancy Saili
A girl too young to endure pain,
Too small to understand why…
She has no choice but to live with the secrets.
Secrets in her bed, she’s forced to keep them,
To speak of them is taboo.
The world calls her a liar but truth is she is a liar
Because she lay there with her secrets while the truth
Looked her in the face… Proof, she had none, except
Her torn fabric and the wounds in her flesh, she is
Wounded, no one sees it because it’s hidden by her
A young girl…
A girl too young to be called a woman……forced into
A girl……but only to the naked eye, infected with a
Disease unseen by the naked eye… On the streets she
Is called names,
But they do not know where she’s been,
They have not walked her path…
She limps as she walks and stumbles along the road,
They laugh at her not knowing that she hurts,
She is a young girl,
A girl too young to carry the weight of a man twice
A girl too small to wear the shoes of her mother,
Her mother, as if deaf, dumb and blind knows not of
The evils that lurk her hallways, she hears not the
Mournful screams of her baby girl,
But maybe…just maybe she does but values her
Marriage more than the safety of her girl…
A young girl,
A girl too young to speak against her father,
Her father, the man she must cry to……is the man
Behind her tears, the enemy inside her home,
With nothing of which to fight him,
Her innocence is stripped away and her spirit broken,
Should she speak of it so the law may take its course
And justice prevail, but what is justice???
Justice……the name of the man that tore her fabric
And broke her, justice was the lawyer that spoke
Against her in court……just because it’s his job, justice
Was the judge that set her enemy free…just for a
Little more than his usual pay, justice was not just
Because the law enforcers were just as corrupt as the
Broken……cannot even begin to define the state of her
Spirit, she is wounded,
For 9 months she bares the pain,
Cries are heard from the newly born baby girl,
A young girl,
A girl too young to understand the myriad of feelings
Concealed in her mothers heart, happiness, sorrow,
Regret, rage……coupled into one tear drop rolling
Down her right cheek, what is she to tell her little girl?
A young girl,
A girl too young to understand why…….why her father
Is her mothers father, on the streets she is called names,
But is it fair??? Did she choose wedlock??? Should she
Suffer her mothers curse??? Mocked, hated…….
Suffering insults not fit for human kind…
She is a young girl,
A girl far too young to survive the cold of the streets,
But she must……and she will,
Laying cold and frozen still on the streets,
She hears footsteps,
The weight is on her chest,
A rough hand on her leg slowly crawling up her ragged dress,
And once again……. History repeats itself.