My son’s birthright


This past Friday our small family piled into our car and drove to Bubanza. We celebrated the completion of the first academic year of Kwizera Academy, a school we founded just last year. On the drive home, slicing through the Burundian countryside, I thought about what this landscape has come to mean to me. I felt more deeply what I hope it means to my son who is native to this place. I’m not a poet, but these are the strands of words I captured as we traveled home in the bright noonday sun…

Friday Drive

We watch the passing landscape as we cut across the Burundian plain.

I keep your iPod tucked away on purpose.

This is your landscape, son.

Be bored by it, absorbed by it,

notice something new,

recognize what’s universal.


Steep in the hot colors; let them stain you.

Reds, greens, yellows awash with sun,

bulging bunches of bananas (still chartreuse) balanced on bikes,

rice spread on the roadside, resting in their golden husks,

pyramids of orange mandarins stacked on rickety tables.

This is your palette.


Born to this soil – it’s yours

and it matters.

The mingling of soil and soul always does.

You belong to this land irrevocably –

beyond passports, birth certificates, even adoption decrees.


Your connection is like Adam’s,

a shared substance with red dirt,

variations of green vegetation,

ombre-shaded elevation from deep silver-tipped waters of Tanganyika

to greyed hues of distant (and many) rolling hills

touching the brilliant sky blue.


This place is your birthright.

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3 thoughts on “My son’s birthright”

  1. Erin Wilson
     ·  Reply

    I think you might just have to stop saying ‘I’m not a poet…”

  2. Sean Whiting
     ·  Reply

    The only un-truth was in the introduction: “Not a poet”

    Oh, really? Beautiful, Kelley! Helps me to appreciate the soil I fight against most of the time here.

    Bless you! Our most common friends are on the verge of adding another to the family. Exciting!

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All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.