Italy: Ndjock Ngana’s 'Prigione' ('Prison')

Copyright: Nieto la-tercera
"The poem 'Prigione' ('Prison'), written by the Cameroonian Italian poet Ndjock Ngana (1952), also known by the Italian name of Teodoro,  has become a sort of a manifesto of the Italian literature of migration, is included in the collection ÑindôNero (1994), where it appears, like the other pieces in the book, en-face in Baasa and Italian.

Significantly, the title is made up of the words that mean “black” in each language, retaining an original African identity together with the possibility of translating it into different cultures and languages,  Beside its Italian side, I here propose a third version of the poem—my English  translation—confident that I will remain faithful to its spirit", writes Alessandra di maio in Black Italia: Contemporary Migrant Writers from Africa.

(Translation by Alessandra Di Maio)
one thing only
is prison.
Living only one life,
in one town only,
one country only,
one universe only,
living only in one world
is prison.
Loving only one friend,
one father only,
one mother only,
one family only,
loving only one person
is prison.
Knowing only one language,
one craft only,
one custom only,
one civilization only,
knowing only one logic
is prison.
Having only one body,
one thought only,
one knowledge only,
one essence only,
having only one being,
is prison.

The orginal poem in Italian

una sola cosa
è prigione.
Vivere una sola vita,
in una sola città,
in un solo paese,
in un solo universo,
vivere in un solo mondo
è prigione.
Amare un solo amico,
un solo padre,
una sola madre,
una sola famiglia,
amare una sola persona
è prigione.
Conoscere una sola lingua,
un solo lavoro,
un solo costume,
una sola civiltà,
conoscere una sola logica
è prigione.
Avere un solo corpo,
un solo pensiero,
una sola conoscenza,
una sola essenza,
avere un solo essere
è prigione.

One-ness, in Ngana/Teodoro’s poem, is prison. Only plurality—of voices,  places, bodies, thoughts—would then be equated with freedom, according Di Maio.