"She Washes Her Hands" by Isatu Jalloh

She washes her hands .jpg

She washes her hands

To clear the spreading germs of Imperialism

The African hands that ploughed the soul of the colonizer


Struggling to recreate her creativity and pride in history

She washes her hands

To the obligated language she assimilated to

To her images of Europeans sitting in Berlin and carving her entire body

Slaughtering her soul and dividing it into different colonies


She washes her hands

To clear her fate

And regain her destined rights that were destroyed in her own land


She washes her hands

The remaining water

She drinks to scrape her tongue hoping that this could recapture her mother’s tongue


Rubbing, wiping vigorously the scars, until she reunites the forces of her tribes

And rescues the spirit and style of African fables and tales


The tears running down her cheeks lay in the center of her palms

She remembers the painful memory of her punishment

In school, in her community, and even at home, for using her mother’s tongue


The blurry memories of traditional celebration

The storytelling around the fire

Makes no sense anymore

“Nothing makes sense” she cries

Not her past nor her present life

Not her language

Either in her mother’s tongue nor in the borrowed tongue


She washes her hands for one last time

To make sense of her future

“I will make my language the language of my tribe’s education”

She repeats until she decolonizes her mind