O Adivasi

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Madakam Lakshman Koya

Madakam Lakshman Koya belongs to Koya-Koitur community and is a native of Chinthuru mandal, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. He has finished his M. Phil in Anthropology from University of Hyderabad. Currently, he is working as a Research Assistant with the SC/ST Special Development Fund Research Unit at CESS, Hyderabad.

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O Adivasi

You soak when it rains

You dry when it is sunny

You shiver when it is cold

You eat when you receive

You fast when you don’t

You leave others alone

But great powers meddle with you

While some might help you

Others are out to harm you

You thought the forest was yours

But that was  your innocence

Those great powers informed you it wasn’t

You only eat what you receive from the forest

They eat the forest.

 

They stole your food

Kicked your gut

Took your home

You thought you could survive with the little you grow with podu[i]

They snatched it away and outlawed podu

The land, where you have lived for generations

Is being forced away from you

They loot the wealth of your nature

With your help, but without your knowledge

 

O Adivasi

If we do not resist now,

Adivasis will cease to survive

Go save your language, your culture, your life.


[i] Podu translates to slash and burn or shifting cultivation.


The poem has been translated from Telugu to English by Joshi Babu Palli, PhD research scholar at University of Hyderabad. 


Photo: Madakam Lakshman Koya

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Madakam Lakshman Koya

Madakam Lakshman Koya belongs to Koya-Koitur community and is a native of Chinthuru mandal, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. He has finished his M. Phil in Anthropology from University of Hyderabad. Currently, he is working as a Research Assistant with the SC/ST Special Development Fund Research Unit at CESS, Hyderabad.

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