Poem minister Shiimi quoted is not from 1819

Photo courtesy: www.eaglefm.com.na

A poem that has gone viral in the age of COVID-19 was recited in the budget speech of finance minister Shiimi, who wrongly stated it was from two centuries ago.

As he commenced the delivering of his inaugural budget statement in the National Assembly on 27 May 2020, Namibian finance minister Iiipumbu Shiimi, stated the following:

“A few days ago, Naritunge, my daughter who is 15 years old, shared with me the words of a poet whose foretelling words written in 1819 and reprinted in 1919 following the Spanish Flu, reinforce the message of perseverance and hope. It says, just to paraphrase: –
“And people stayed at home,
Someone meditated, someone prayed,
People found themselves,
And made new choices,
And dreamed of new visions,
And created new ways of living,
And completely healed the earth,
Just as they were healed”

– Iipumbu Shiimi

The poem has been a viral favourite, as it has resonated with the universal mood in the era of COVID-19, especially among WhatsApp groups since about March 2020, which was also when Namibia Fact Check first encountered it on Namibian social media.

However, the poem is not from 1819, or even 1919, but was in fact penned in March 2020.

The poem was written by Wisconsin, USA, retiree Catherine (Kitty) O’Meara, and the full length poem goes as follows:

“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.”

– Catherine (Kitty) O’Meara

For some other takes on the poem, see here and here.


Based on the evidence and/or best available data / information the statements or claims assessed in this article are false.

28th May 2020

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)