"I want to give hope to myself and to people around me"

Stephen's (18) poem on the Coronavirus

Yves Willemot
A boy reading a poem
UNICEF South Sudan/de la Guardia
01 May 2020

Steven Kiama Ambrose.

"Poetry is my way of expressing myself, ever since I watched a poet on Kenyan television three years ago. I got inspired by how he translated his emotions and ideas in verses. I now must have written more than 50 poems, most of them deal with issues that affect our societies and communities, like droughts, war and violence among young people. I remember from the time I was still in Kenya, how misguided youth were creating violence in our communities."

"I find my solace in my poetry. As COVID-19 impacted us so badly I decided to write a poem about the virus. My mother gets a lot of false information about the virus, from her friends in the neighbourhood. Last time she told me that drinking your tea without sugar could protect you from getting infected. I know that is not true. With my poem I want to correct the kind of misinformation, but more importantly, I want to give my family and friends hope."



"The human race shall always overcome," said Jommo Kenyatta

See, I am the ultimate test

How well do you work together?

How well coordinated are you?


COVID 19 is my name

I know no boundaries or lanes

No celebrity can match my fame

Like a roaring flame I engulf all on my path

The poor and the rich both feel my wrath


You have a common enemy in me

So, lower your guns and focus on me

Lower your rank, tribe, ethnicity and focus on me

For can't you see, can't you see?

I know off no hierarchy

My presence brings fear and anarchy


I am stronger than Samson

For I break the unbreakable

I'll break your economy

I'll break your faith

But that's only if you let me

For the racism you show only strengthens me


You like hiding your identity, then wear a mask

You claim that your hands are clean, then sanitize

For the death I cause is no man's fault but rather my nature

You shall overcome me; it's in your blood, it's your nature

I am no professor, neither is this a lecture

But only working together can tame my destructive nature


As Nations cower in fear

For I grab many victims in a day

For once they see something worse than war

For once they see humanity is worth fighting for


What goes up must come down

No authority is higher than me

For I break the laws of traditions

I break the laws of a normal condition

But I'll never break the so-called men

Bend them to their breaking points

Once they kill me, they forget my wrath and once again I'll strike


As you suffer because of me

Also try and learn from me and your mistakes

As I go down the books of history

Still there's more to come

Maintain the togetherness

And there will be no harm

Share the little you have

Before I strike and leave you with none


The only way to survive me, is by joining heads

Lock your doors for I roam the streets

Stay alert for like an assassin; you never know my target



"All of us in our community here in Juba have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the preventive measures that have been imposed. I am in my final year of high school. As schools have been closed since mid-March I don’t know when I will be able to get my school certificate. Nor do we know when we will be able to return to Kenya to see my father, because the borders have been closed for several weeks now. That makes me anxious and sad. My father is working as a mason in our home community. I miss him a lot."

"With the curfew and the closing of businesses, my mother is struggling to get money to feed the family. I have four brothers and one sister living with me here in South Sudan. One older brother had a job and was earning some income. But now he is out of a job. My mother was put on a half-time job. I used to help my mother after school hours at the air company. I earned up to 1000 South Sudanese Pounds per day (3 USD) which I shared with my mother. That too has now ended. So, life has become harsh for us. As the same time, COVID-19 has brought us all closer together. It made us stronger now that we spend more time together."


UNICEF South Sudan/de la Guardia

"I have read my poem on COVID-19 to my mother, brothers, sisters, and to my friends. They liked it and said that it gives them some comfort in these difficult times. That inspires me to continue to write poems. "