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Mandela Comes ta Leah 

Mandela Comes ta Leah 

Shaetlan (Shetlandic)

Christine De Luca

‘Na’ he said, ‘Freedom is nivver half-haertit’

An shackles hüld fast da veteran o Robben Island.

‘Na’ shö said, ‘Laer is fur aaboady’ –

Scarred, but faerless, da face o da Lass fae Pakistan.

‘Na’ shö said, ‘You canna ledder Faith inta fock’ –

A lockit-up voice, blate but bold in Dapchi, 

Her flame still bricht i da den o zealots. 

Sae, owre time, voices o witness aye brack oot –

Mandela, Malala, Leah Sharibu – da emmers o

‘Na, said Prometheus’, da lowe an sang, 

Fins cracks, a glisterin flame rips trowe 

Chibok and Dapchi, ta licht da wirld again.

Read the English translation – Mandela Comes to Leah by Prof. Wole Soyinka 

Christine De Luca writes in English and Shaetlan (Shetlandic), her mother tongue.  She lives in Edinburgh and was appointed Edinburgh’s Makar (laureate) for 2014-2017.  She has had eight poetry collections published, several of which have won awards.  Her most recent is Veeve (Mariscat Press, Edinburgh, 2021).  She has also written two novels and several storybooks for children.  

She’s participated in many festivals at home and abroad and numerous translation activities, often using English as a ‘bridge’ language.  She particularly enjoys translating classic texts for children, most recently Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince.  Several bi-lingual collections of her poetry have been published (in French, Italian, Icelandic, Norwegian and in English). 

She has had many fruitful collaborations with musicians and visual artists.  Her poetry has inspired both jazz and classical compositions, most recently working with Tommy Smith and with Orkney-based composer Gemma McGregor.  

Another Time, Another Place (The Scottish Gallery, 2021) documented a collaboration with the Scottish artist, Victoria Crowe; and output from her more recent collaboration with the artist Brigid Collins, in the tranquility of Dr Neil’s Garden in Edinburgh, can be found here:

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