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“Love Ukraine” read by South Africans and Ukrainians

July 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

July 16, 1990 the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine was adopted. With this video UAZA (www.uaza.co.za) celebrates 30 years of Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. South Africans with Ukraine in their hearts and Ukrainians reading the poem “Love Ukraine” by Volodymyr Sosiura (born January 6, 1898 in Debaltseve, Donetsk region).

The poem-recording was initiated by Maryna Theron, edited by Hannah Zhukovina, coordinated by Zoia Dei and Ruslana Malichenko.

This video started as an emotional impulse of Maryna to express the love and respect that Ukrainians and their friends and family in South Africa have to Ukraine.

“We’re far from home and unable to travel in lockdown and miss home very much. So I wanted to do something that can help us to express the love we, Ukrainians in South Africa, have to our country and the respect and love that our friends and family here have to Ukraine. I thought legendary Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Sosiura best captured the passion for Ukraine in his poem “Love Ukraine”. It always gives goosebumps when I hear it.” – said Maryna.

Maryna has shared the text that many of Ukrainians know by heart since childhood. And different members and friends of UAZA volunteered to read it. When the video was done, we wanted to learn more about the history of the poem and… It turned out that the poem that we all know was modified!

Volodymyr Sosiura wrote poem “Love Ukraine” in 1944 during the WWII, when in the evacuation. Sosiura was longing for Ukraine and anxious about the bombing and suffering that his Motherland was going through. In that emotional state, he wrote the poem and expressed the deep love to the country.

But after the war has finished, the situation has changed. The Soviet government under Stalin embarked on witch-hunting for nationalists. Sosiura, a well-recognised poet at that time, has also been accused of nationalism. In 1951, the poem  “Love Ukraine” was deemed too nationalistic in its tone because of the words: “Without you [Ukraine] we’re nothing, just cinder and dust”. Sosiura’s wife was arrested by NKVD and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. He was prevented from publishing his poems.

Under that pressure, Sosiura changed those lines to more soviet-oriented

“As in a garden of fraternal races [nations of the Soviet Union],
She shines above the ages.”

It was too late to change the video that was edited as it involved so much effort from many South Africans and Ukrainian. But it is not too late to learn from this example.

This example of how the real narrative of our past was altered to suit that of the prevailing people in power made us realise the intricate levels of oppression that our literature has suffered. We have learned a valuable lesson of how important it is to learn about our past as it can still modify our current reality. This lesson seems to be equally relevant to the conversations about decolonisation in South Africa.


Love Our Ukraine

Love our Ukraine, as the sun love her
As the wind, the grass, the waters
Love her in the moments of joy and bliss
As well as in the moments of sorrow

Love our Ukraine in your dreams and awake
Love her as a cherry in blossom
Her beauty eternal, her language that rings
Like a nightingale’s song in the orchard

Without her, we’re nothing, just cinder and dust
That has been dispersed all around
Love our Ukraine with all of your heart
As well as your thoughts and your talents

For us in this world, she’s the only one
Ukraine with her eyes sober brown
She is in the stars, in the willows and winds
In all our hearts, small and grown

She is in the flowers, the birds, palisades
In all of our songs and in dumas
She is in the smile of a child, maiden’s eyes
In the crimson of battle flags flying

She is like the Burning Bush that can’t be burnt
She lives in the trails and oak forests
She’s factory whistle, Dnipro’s mighty waves
She’s clouds above colored purple

She’s cannonade’s roar that chases away
Our foes in their green uniforms
In rifles we hold firmly on our way up
Towards spring, so sincere and delightful 

Young man! She deserves all your laughter and tears
Each second till your dying hour
You can’t comprehend the ways of other lands
Unless all your love’s for Ukraine

Young maiden! Like blue sky, above and beyond
You must love Ukraine every instant
Beware, for your darling will break up your bond
If your love for Ukraine’s inconsistent

Love her in trouble, in joy, even war
As guns are all opening fire
Just love your Ukraine, and your spirit will soar
And stay with her always inspired!

* translated by members of Ukrainian Embassy in the UK 2017

Вірш Володимира Сосюри (1944)

Любіть Україну, як сонце, любіть,

як вітер, і трави, і води,

В годину щасливу, і в радості мить,

любіть у годину негоди.

Любіть Україну у сні й наяву,

вишневу свою Україну,

красу її, вічно живу і нову,

і мову її солов’їну.

Без неї — ніщо ми,

як порох і дим,

Розвіяний в полі вітрами…

Любіть Україну всім серцем своїм

і всіма своїми ділами.

Для нас вона в світі єдина, одна

як очі її ніжно-карі…

Вона — у зірках, і у вербах вона,

і в кожному серця ударі,

у квітці, й пташині, в кривеньких тинах,

у пісні у кожній, у думі,

в дитячій усмішці, в дівочих очах

і в стягів багряному шумі…

Як та купина, що горить — не згора,

живе у стежках, у дібровах,

у зойках гудків, і у хвилях Дніпра,

і в хмарах отих пурпурових,

в огні канонад, що на захід женуть

чужинців в зелених мундирах,

в багнетах, що в тьмі пробивали нам путь

до весен, і світлих, і щирих…

Юначе! Хай буде для неї твій сміх,

і сльози, і все, до загину…

Не можна любити народів других,

коли ти не любиш Вкраїну!

Дівчино! Як небо її голубе,

люби її кожну хвилину…

Коханий любить не захоче тебе,

коли ти не любиш Вкраїну!

Любіть у труді, у коханні, в бою,

в цей час, як гудуть батареї…

Всім серцем любіть Україну свою, —

і вічні ми будемо з нею!


Text written by Dzvinka Kachur