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Poem: Paradise Lost

Paradise lost  is a poem written by Prof. Yusuf Kassam, formerly of the University of Dar es Salaam and currently living in Toronto, Canada. According  to Prof. Abdulaziz Lodhi of the Department of Linguistics & Philology, Uppsala University in Sweden, Yusuf Kassam was an outstanding student at the former King George VI Grammar School (Now: Lumumba Secondary School). He was among the first Zanzibaris/Tanzanians to have published poems in English.

This poem has been sent to Zanzinet by Maalim Abdulazia Lodhi with the author's consent.

Paradise Lost

I left Zanzibar, island of spices,
To emigrate to Canada, land of opportunity.

Forsook the tropical sun
For cold frigid weather.
Left behind the warm ocean breeze
For the windchill of winter.                            

Abandoned white pristine beaches
For brown muddy shores.
Turned away from a turquoise ocean                                  
For polluted lakes.
Gave up mangoes, papaya, shokishoki, guava and duriani
For apples, pears, grapes, peaches and cherries.
Gave up white snapper and king fish For cod and sole.
Gave up drinking coconut water straight from the coconut
And settled for bottled water.

Left behind the street coffee seller
For the office coffee pot.
Left behind the exotic fragrance of spices
For the pungent smell of sulfuric emissions.

Deprived of hearing the call to prayer
For the sound of police and fire sirens.
Deprived of seeing women clad in mysterious black buibui
For women dressed in jeans and miniskirts.
Deserted a slow relaxed pace of life  For the fast lane.
Gave up afternoon naps For gym workouts.
Gave up riding a bicycle through the narrow streets
For driving a car on the highways.
Discontinued a course on the coral marine life
For a course in stress management.
Discarded mud and thatched dwellings
For concrete and steel.
Left behind a community-based life
For a human zoo.
It makes me wonder
If I have also left my soul behind in Zanzibar?

Yusuf Kassam
April 2005

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