A Sister’s Dirge

by Yananda Nana Madhlopa

Chetamani Chiwawa chetamani Chiwawa
These were the sounds that welcomed me
That morning as I neared Ekwendeni
The village where my sister was to be married
It was a sad day
Ekwendeni wakukana kumuchupulila vyuvyu
My sister on the other hand was radiant
As these people insulted us!
Our sister was leaving the village
To join this man in this village

Yesu mwimilire mukati mwithu
This song rang in my ears as we sat at the grave yard
It was a sad occasion
My nephew welcomed me with tears
He was sad that his dad was no more
I encouraged him

I couldn’t see my sister!
Where was she
Where was the one who brought us to this village
She was inside the house
Sad and grieving
For the man who brought her to this village was no more

He has left her alone with her seven children and grand children!

 

Notes: Ekwendeni is a town in the Northern Region of Malawi. It lies about 20 kilometres from   Mzuzu, in the Mzimba district.

Chetamani Chiwawa is a song sung in northern Malawi.  It literary translate ‘Stop crying Chiwawa’ and is sung at wedding ceremonies to taunt the brides family.

Ekwendeni wakukana kumuchupulila vyuvyu is an expression well known in Ekwendeni (and surounding areas).  It literary translates ‘Ekwendeni does not allow dust being throw at it’ and is said to express the pride of those who hail from Ekwendeni

Yesu mwimilire mukati mwithu is a hymn sung at funeral.  It Literary translate ‘Jesus stand amidst us’

Yananda Nana Madhlopa is Lecturer, United Nations University Fellow and a Mother of Umsa and Nkosinathi.  Her Area of expertise is Gender and Child Care.  Apart for her academic work, she writes poems and prose

Children of Clay (for Gloria)

 

By Zondiwe Mbano

A girl took wet brown clay, spat
into it, and pressed and beat it with
Her palms; then spitting into it again
And carefully rolling it between her
Open palms, she moulded the torso
To which she joined the arms, legs
And head. Then with exactness, using
A stalk of grass, she formed the mouth
Nostrils, and eyes. Finally with saliva
On the stalk, she polished the boy firm
And glossy, and stood him in the sun
And wind. But when she came back
She found him fallen, dry and broken.

A woman, hopeless, at a mortuary
In Blantyre, poured out bitterness:
God, why did you snatch my son
My only son, Dongo. Cruel God,
Why strike an innocent woman?

Another woman, broken-hearted
At Makhanga in the Lower Shire
Lamented: who delivered my son
To the enemy? Who snatched my
Only covering, leaving me naked?

God on high, riding the thunderbolt
When will you take pity on children
Of clay? Look how they easily crack
And break up, in the rain, in the wind,
In the sun, leaving the mothers broken.

Notes
Dongo or Chidongo, a name that means earth, soil, or clay.

 

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures(BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds(published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award. Mbano’s has published beautiful poems on Afreecan Readincluding, Eyes of AgeRoad to Emmaus and The Breadwinner.

 

Midnight Invasion

By Zondiwe Mbano

The forerunners, black ants, worms, crickets
Abandoned the comfort of underground nests

Causing so much pandemonium in the kitchen
As they fought with cockroaches and spiders.

Who knew this was the harbinger of a midnight
Battle with a formidable battalion of red ants?

Slowly, unlike hasty soldiers from nations
Of warmongers bombing schools or hospitals,

The innumerable army marched in silence,
With divisions already assigned the areas.

The spies, examining the blankets, awoke us
To see windowpanes and grilles all covered.

While the foragers were already gathering
Necessary provisions from the kitchen,

The battalion was soon inside, advancing
In every direction, and climbing the walls.

On the veranda, our trusted guards silently
Scampered away at the initial onslaught;

Their cousin, the jackal, pokes his long tail
Into ant holes to draw and chew mouthfuls.

War was on, sending geckos scuttling across
The ceiling, but soon the soldiers covered it;

A mouse, panic-stricken, thought it could hide
In a hot lampshade, but soon fell to the army.

We remembered village weapons: hot ashes
And coals, dust and sand to scatter the lines

But there was none, nor could we draw lines
On the cement floors to lead the army away;

So, with hot water, a few puffs of spray, powder
Even salt and flour, we fought the war to sunrise

When more weapons of mass destruction came
To clear a battalion that does not count the dead.

Even after this, suicide fighters would suddenly
Startle you by striking deep in delicate places

And during the following nights, we had to learn
To respond quickly to warnings of the forerunners.

 

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures(BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds(published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award. Mbano’s has published beautiful poems on Afreecan Readincluding, Eyes of AgeRoad to Emmaus and The Breadwinner.

Wayfarer’s Song (For my father, died 1988)

By Zondiwe Mbano

They told me the day is long,
But the walk will be short

My father, I walked the day,
Sunset overtook me walking

They told me to light a match,
It will chase away darkness

My father, I have seen motes
Of darkness smothering light

They told me to plunge deep,
The water would not be cold

My father, I plunged: didn’t I
Faint? The water was biting

Now my teeth chatter, my ears
Buzz, and my heart is numb

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures(BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds(published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award. Mbano’s has published beautiful poems on Afreecan Readincluding, Eyes of AgeRoad to Emmaus and The Breadwinner.

Faces in the Garrison

Image result for deep eyes

 

By   Dominic Ayegba Okoliko

Keep your gaze on
and look through in the deep.
Let it run up the hill
and down the mountain trail.
See through the green leaf scale
and in the dewdrops on the field;
here and there is beauty unfolding,
a flower bud bursting.
Turn your eyes upon the wood.
Let it traverse the neighbourhood,
and sweep through every gate.
Take in snapshots of every face,
and hold tight every gaze
until beams of warm rays
water the dryness of faces,
of faces in the garrison

 

Dominic Ayegba Okoliko is a Nigerian writer from Kogi State. He enjoys stories and love spending time creating some. His other interests include poem and social science research. Some of his works have appeared in Words Rhymes and Rhythm, Nigeria News24, Poemhunters and on this site. You can contact Dominic on okolikoda@outlook.com or follow him on twitter @Ayedom01

LOOK AT “EAT”

By Larry Onokpite

Stare scares: it scarce
The joint of meeting espoused
For the lookout in the outlook
Simplicity is betrayed in stare
Yet exhuming the dried
Dried, fried, fresh: still edible.

Meaning negotiated for admiration
Matter arising in beauty
Hectic junction for a question
Looking incenses the unnoticed
Wind noticed; yet invisible
Smoke greeted; smelled in indifference

Visible indifference of differing
All interested in our disinterest
Wittiness is our goalkeeper
Shooting the ball only to logic
Damn logic! It is allergic
Unity appears in a scare

The questions your mouth query
Your Einstein require no riposte
The reply our minds will afford
Our mouth pretends with silence
Accidental invocation of awkwardness
Flowers plucked for our pockets

Invisible mystery
Brimmed and oozing with a story
Visible mystery
Truth canned to can’t
For my adorable daughter
Touch and taste twin

“The taste of the pudding
Is in the eating”
One of our unfinished truths
The tasting of the pudding
The death of the pudding
Craving and tasting in swiftness

The pudding should stay
The tension of trust
Creates the exhortation
The pudding is tasty
Taste-sense is last on the roll
Touch, see, smell, adore!

Destruction is colourless
It is filled with odour
I stare; We stare
Staring is consuming
We plea for its stay
Tomorrow we love to look on

Looking calls us to depth
Looking invites us to growth
Looking names our maturing
That which is eaten is destroyed
Your fate before you:
Look at “Eat!”

Larry Onokpite is from Delta State, Nigeria. He considers reading and writing as great forms of spirituality. Larry previously published A Collection of Mantras and Ululating on Afreecan Read.

 

 

 

 

THE GRADUATE

By Sunday Paul C. Onwuegbuchulam

Trudging tirelessly through the street dirt,
The sweat on his face drips down,
Soaking the sodden shriveled shirt,
The soles of his shoes have thinned down.

His tired face reflects predicament,
As a result of wasteful trials,
With his hard earned documents
He cannot be offered even a trial.

But so optimistic he carried on
Running after an escaping honey,
At that middle hour not yet on,
How could he? When he has no money.

Under the burning blazing sun
He continued his eluding fight
His dry spit disappears under the sun
His sunken eyes looking left and right

Alas! There an opportunity shimmers
The chalk board shouts: ‘vacancy’!
The hope of a menial job glimmers
Even that is okay for his fancy

Knock, knock, knock, do you have “pay-pass”?
The manager’s head like Olumo rock
‘Yes’, the graduate answered, I had a pass.
The manager’s face frowned at this ignorant muck.

‘Zounds! I don’t mean that rubbish.’
Eyes blinking blearily in surprise
‘Excuse me sir, did you say rubbish?
These, for my academic endeavors are my prize.’

The graduate could not believe his ears,
Even as he returned to the streets.
The manager ejected him from there,
What a country! He was in fits.

A country where a qualified graduate
Could not qualify for a job, however menial
So that he could his sanity protect,
Which he sought, but turned to denial.

Yes, the corrupt system had denied sanity
From a man who fought tooth and nail,
To secure a place for future identity
Like a failed warrior, his aspiration fails.

Where is the employment to give him mandate?
Where are the two-tongued promises made,
By the pot-bellied hawks scavenging mandate?
Theirs was given, his was already dead.

This is his fate and others like him
In a country flowing with milk and honey.
They are gradually dying alive it seems,
But slowly the politician’s ‘pay-day’ looms surely.

 

Dr Sunday Paul C. Onwuegbuchulam is from Imo State Nigeria resident in South Africa. He is a researcher and lecturer (International and Public Affairs). He has published peer-reviewed articles in journals straddling the areas of philosophy, theology, conflict transformation and peace studies and political science. Reading and writing poetry, prose and drama is a hobby and passion developed early in life to which he devotes his pastime. The theme that controls his poetic thoughts centres on human existential realities and the plight of the alienated in African societies.

The World Lies

By Samuel Oladele

They said, our hearts will always be an empty auditorium,
a void planet lost in endless darkness.
They said, our minds will always be a burning house,
a wounded confused soldier running in the wilderness.
They said, our hearts and heads will always be
Iran and Iraq, two brothers scuffling.
They said, our eyes will always be defected lights
bulbs left with little to behold.
They said, our faces will always be a stain on the
world, a dying lake.
They said, our bodies will always be a hut in the
middle of estate houses, a dirt the world dumped.
My grandmother has always told me that the
world will call the sun a graveyard because he
is a scientist who never admits to be fallible.
The outgoing doctor, my neighbour, says
lab coats are light blue.
The world is a colour blind doctor, too perfect
to get lens for its eyes.
I am a planet with two suns and an atmosphere
too strong to worry over a body of plausible words.

 

Samuel Oladele is from Ondo state. He is a student studying Applied Chemistry at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. He loves to write and to read.

CROCO WORLD

By Larry Onokpite

I am never thirsty
I gave up that chance hastily
No regret on this sacrifice
Everything would suffice

King of fluids
High class residence of water
Peacefully inhale juice to a nap
Liquid plentiful: life beautiful

Satisfaction will remain our master
Mattering not you marine or earthly
We are slaves of incompleteness
At least materially

Self-acclaimed king of fluids
Never satisfy
Catching, crushing, masticating
Ruthlessly whipping to stillness

Weaker friends are my feeds
Point after point I spy above marine
Plotting my next feast
The king I am mostly wins

I began to brag in fullness
Carefully escaping that cheat of nature
Water commander; territory destroyer
Attacking slowly: devouring in speed

Seeds sprouting in my abdomen
They won’t survive in my giant kingdom
Need soil: need someone’s space
Before I kinged fluids; I begged soil

Who can be proud of a weak king?
Overthrow and death are near him
Pride is our most decorated vanity
Only if you knew how you became?

Should I really be king?
Pride blinds us once we become
Ungratefulness updated in our being
Drop that ego: your cargo will sink

I deposited my eggs ashore
Brilliantly sealed their tomb
A tomb-womb
Dying to live again

Not long enough though
But those days stole my good peace
I gallivanted solemnly ashore
Digging up my princes and princesses

Oh pride! You killed my children already
I didn’t even get the favour to teach
Bluntly refusing to thank the soil
They quickly travelled into their realm

Before I returned home
These tiny creatures were on already
Demanding power and dominance
Never to remember how they became

My feet itching: mouth shivering
But how much must we teach?
What can be learnt from silence?
We are beings patterned in experience

Age trapped me: my kids grew strong
They smashed well: I eager to teach
When a group of weaker friends appear
They were always confused and couldn’t kill
They found a way to burn their pride

I laughed at them skillfully
When they saw many: they starved
When our pride fails us
It doesn’t notify nor apologizes after

I remain king of fluids as I think
Perhaps a confused king
We are greatly impaired;
Kiss a healing humbly
The faith of fate!

Larry Onokpite is from Delta State, Nigeria. He considers reading and writing as great forms of spirituality. Larry previously published A Collection of Mantras and Ululating on Afreecan Read.

BURNT BREAD & SURVIVAL SONG

By Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah

You always ask, why is life
An olden photograph
that evolves with time and gives away
her innocence to sultry, to little things of colour
when life itself is a cosmic writer of poetry
denied of ethereal exploits in space.

Blue flames are hard to light in the heart
so is an unattractive thigh difficult to please
the eyes that sleep with the morning sun.
And life itself is a dwindling tear of a dead child
staged by coups de’ tat and mobbed by silences.
The soul faces time with a piece of hook
like a fisher-boy seducing a mighty ocean.

You know how to survive a rapturous sin
like apparitions do to living bodies who
Prevent them from returning to their beloved.
But if bread is life for survivors in turned memoirs
then is smoke for believers
Who swim the present to childhood
to learn lessons forming
Skeletons of their new age

Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah performs poetry with The Village Thinkers, Ghana and serves as the poetry editor for Lunaris Review, Nigeria. Tsiwah, an international award winning poet and author of Afro-conscious heritage writes from his fatherland – Cape Coast, Ghana.