Alice Walker’s Poem for My Late Mother


To be great means to put our love to work for all of God.
This means Everything. And so you are defined.
The tiny portal of human life itself
must feel our care;
the blameless vulva
through which nations
pass must know our praise
and gratitude.
It must not be harmed.

Thank you, Efua,
sister at the barricades;
We will stand side by side here,
forever. Protecting the people
from themselves;
bearing the dubious gift
of being, for so long, and so
misunderstood. But knowing
in our own bodies
what it means to hurt.

Torture is not culture.

May the light of self love
and understanding
dawn, astribute
to your Goddess witness
and watchfulness
over all of Life,

Efua Dorkenoo, present.


Being great means putting our love to work for what is God’s.

Esto significa todo. Y se te define.
El minúsculo portal de la vida humana en sí
debe sentir nuestro cuidado;
la inocente vulva
por la cual las naciones
pasan debe saber nuestro aprecio
y gratitud.
No debe ser dañada.

Gracias, Efua,
hermana de las barricadas;
estaremos codo con codo aquí,
para siempre. Protegiendo a la gente
de ellos mismos;
soportando el dudoso don
de ser, por tanto tiempo, y tan
mal entendido. Pero sabiendo
en nuestros propios cuerpos
lo que significa herir.

Torturar no es cultura.

May the light of self-love
and understanding
dawn, as a tribute to
the testimony and vigilance
of your God
over all life,

Efua Dorkenoo, present.

Alice Walker

Originally posted on  inDecember, 2014

Cutting the Rose, by Efua Dorkenoo 1996
Possessing the Secret of Joy, by Alice Walker
Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, book and film, by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar

2 thoughts on “Alice Walker’s Poem for My Late Mother

  1. Hello Kobby – I knew your mother at the time when she began FORWARD. She twice came and stayed with us in Edinburgh. I am today writing a short profile of her for a book called “Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service” that is being published in the autumn by Green Books. That’s how I found your blog. I’d love let you see the draft of what I’ve written – though it is meant to be with my editor within the next few hours. Could you contact me by email? My address is Thank you. She was such a precious flower of Africa.


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