Naked Parables

Good evening blessed earth,

I stand naked though dressed in your radiance,

In your presence, I, lost in moments present,

I find your curves haunting,

My words are wanting they lack proper content to express this, to express you, goddess before my iris,

I used to commune in thought patterns, born psychic with an intellect beyond what genius thinks, addicted to meditative habits,

Sophia’ first born, I was blessed with esoteric and ancient knowledge,

I spoke with Solomon on Masonic precepts, he wrote his songs as I recited poems for my princess to a court full of queens from all traditions,

We burnt incense and sat with the transcended, they spoke of your pureness, you, the vessel of gods children,

I traced my thoughts back to my hearts intents, I found a void within with traces  of your scent trapped in that emptyness,

I searched my surroundings but Gaias environments left no record of your creation,

In truth, my souls presence felt connected to your essence,

Your spirit hidden past the ages, so ageless, a beautiful infinity with the creators graces, my sweet Isis,

A creator in all sense, Love personified in curves,

I have stood on this stage and memorised men’s many plays, my mental state socialised all doctrine,

 

Tired and broken I sat on Mount Zion and watched civilization as I dulled my human found emotions,

A craving for the unknown, I found pain in my wanting, searching, from caves to lunar stone paintings,

I watched Venus past Mars as the stars aligned, her falling light caught my Eye by surprise, at blind sight I found your hideout beneath the night skies,

I nearly cried out but my Joy was already too loud,

I learnt your paths fast like these arts patiently learnt while pacing most Lives in their last tracks,

Then, as the morning fog cleansed my Dusty eyes…

I saw you,

 

Felt like I’ve always known you, always loved you as I remained loyal and true, like royalty do – you saw my crown and smiled, that’s when I smiled too…

We found our eyes meeting,

Conversating on how long we’ve been waiting, how long should we wait still and why do you remain hidden?

Why is our union forbidden?

What is this we keep feeling? I mean, look at me lost Love: you’ll find my spirit as I in you find my meaning,

We left without leaving, floated past all that is thought living,

We embraced the cosmos teaching of our humble beginings,

Lost in ideals that defy reason, how did we find meaning in such a connection,?

Logic lacks in philosophy- We live faith constructs,

We Defy gravity as we undress sailing on a slow wind as it blows,

What beauty is this? Beyond the iris as you capture my every intimate thought patterns,..

God I want this,

As you appropriately respond to this, moan sounds that awake the sleeping heavens, these intimate trumpet sounds to awake the sleeping conscious,

‘Make an angel blush’ sentiments, and we haven’t even touched yet,

I stand lost in your iris trying to break eye contact, hypnotic, I see us beyond all that is, beyond all this and all that has been- I just want to hold this… moment,

A distant noise erupts the silence into chaos, I stand and meet you half of the hallway,

We walk in silence, you bite your lips to my shy advances,

Flirt with your breath patterns as your heartbeat sweetly beats a rhythm so tantric,

So abstract, the colours of your radiance so vibrant, it has to be magic,

I caught my first flight and we found us only in each other’s presence,

Alone amidst them, daughters and sons of a fallen creation, we engage in creative rituals,

I find my brushes touch on your canvas so colourful, so fine this art we create, priceless engagement in this lesson of hearts and this flesh’ functions, with these minds- Our Souls elevate into a spiritual resonance…

What beauty is this…?

Past mornings to these evenings,

Good night blessed earth.

Written by Samson Mandhla Moyo, a Student at the University of Livingstonia Malawi. Visit Samson’s blog for more

Time of Death

The words had been circling in her mind for so long they were almost unnoticeable. Like her own heartbeat. The words were like background music so unobtrusive and with no obvious source. Just omnipresent, oppressive and if she tried to make sense of them, suffocating. It felt like the same sequence of neurons had fired so many times in her head that the pattern had worn grooves in her skull. The words repeated unconsciously, constantly, unbidden even in her dreams and with every breath. The words were always there but they made no sense.

A part of her knew that she needed to try to understand them. It had been almost six months. She wasn’t sure, maybe it was six months, she hadn’t really been paying attention. She had told herself when it all started that she would keep track of each minute. Consciously living through each day and surviving and breathing through each hour as though that would somehow validate the words and make them make sense. Counting the days had seemed so logical since all of time had ended and begun on that day. But she hadn’t kept track. She had lost count at some point and simply allowed the days to drift. Letting the words lull her into a sense of numbed acquiescence.

She functioned and participated, she had even started to go to work a few weeks ago, but something vital had been switched off and she didn’t quite know what it was. The words had turned off something in her but they seemed to have turned on something in Mbongeni.

She wondered idly if her husband, had slept in the last 48 hours. He looked fine she thought. His face was perfectly clean shaven, civilized in stark contrast to his haunted, gaunt, blood shot eyes. He had lost some weight recently, she was surprised to realize, and his cheekbones had remembered his much diluted African heritage giving him a savagery quite disturbing in contrast to the civility of his surroundings. He was talking to her about the improvements he had been making to the car. Something to do with detaching sensor lines and removing speed limiters and perhaps adding an illegal gasoline engine to the electric vehicle. Or had he said that yesterday?

“There was a message earlier about the house’s environmental monitors not working. If you keep pulling the sensors, we might get fined or get a warrant for an inspection,” she told him. Only realizing at the end of her quiet sentence that she hadn’t added any expression to her face. She spread her lips, smiling without any emotion touching her eyes. Mbongeni noticed the effort but did not smile back. She let her lips drop back to a neutral line.

“I was trying to link the sensors in the house with the sensors in the mobile home,” He said. “I filed the permits yesterday, those sensors won’t be working until I can figure out an upgrade that will link the software between the two. I don’t want to have to always manually sync everything just to be compliant. And anyway, we don’t have to have all that information reported to the main net no matter what they say.”

He was wrong. They did have to report all environmental sensor data to the main net. It was the law and he knew it.

“I suppose not,” she said softly, choosing not to argue. He was picking a pointless fight. He didn’t seem to hear her. Something in her mind triggered and she remembered she had been drinking tea. This led to the realization that her fingers were apparently already wrapped around the cup. She lifted it to her lips. It was cold. She got up from the breakfast table and placed the cup in the microwave.

Mbongeni continued to talk. The words a buzzing dissonance with the other words that marched tirelessly through her mind. The microwave dinged having reheated the tea to the perfect temperature. She retrieved the cup and took a sip. Only then noticing that the little display on the front of the microwave was blank. The time and Wi-Fi uplink symbol that were normally there replaced by dashes. He must have disconnected that too, she thought idly.

She decided not to worry too much about it. Mbongeni was still talking. Something about going to the gym later. She sat back down at the table passively taking in the cozy breakfast nook set into the corner of the kitchen flanked on two sides by massive windows that looked out onto the savannah. With houses seemingly sprinkled haphazardly on the landscape, it looked like an idyllic African postcard.

“…. the thing is, I’m not sure if I should bother configuring the network in the mobile home at all. I would have to re-work all the synthetics and remove too many of the organic pieces you like. I mean you can’t sensorize a ceramic sink or a ceramic toilet bowl for that matter and it is all about the look and feel of the entire finished piece. I mean, I’m no architect and even though it means this might not pass some safety standards, I consider this more like living art than anything….”

She drank her tea. She ate her toast making sure to lean in to avoid any crumbs getting on her blouse. He had no such concerns, chewing and talking with his mouth open in a widening circle of crumbs. She watched him passively listening to the rise and fall of his voice as he spoke. He needed a haircut, she thought. She would schedule him one as soon as they were done with breakfast. His constant talking was only slowed by his constant eating. He had moved the toaster to the table and had plowed through nearly half the loaf of bread thickly spreading butter on each slice before consuming it in one bite. She wasn’t sure, but she suspected he had drunk at least five cups of coffee. He had un-synced the coffee pot sometime last month, she remembered, it wouldn’t log his caffeine intake.

“I’m going shopping today,” she said when he took a pause to swallow. “Do you need me to get you anything?”

“No, I think I can cannibalize stuff we have here, I’m recycling old school.” He said. He smiled. Almost a real smile that made his face handsome and his eyes crease, reminding her of the boy she had fallen in love with 10 years ago, and someone else… someone who had inherited those expressive brown eyes. “It’s really quite astonishing the kinds of things you find when you take apart some of the old obsolete tech.”

She tried to mirror his smile, consciously creasing her eyes to show him she was glad he found such fulfillment in his projects. The words in her mind got louder, making her wince a little at the end of her little performance. It was as though even pretending to feel an emotion was too much like actually feeling it and her body was shutting that part of her down in self-defense. She stopped trying to smile. The words circled like vultures in her mind, waiting to settle into a pattern she knew she would understand. She didn’t want to. Her heart started to beat faster and her palms began to sweat. She stood up and started to clear the table. Everything else drowned into the background as her heartbeat gave rhythm to the words.

“Tapiwa.” Mbongeni said her name softly, touching her arm to make sure she heard him. She stopped and looked at him, and for a moment, they shared an exquisite moment of blinding pain.

“There is a reason for everything,” he said, repeating the lie more to himself than her, his voice quiet and hoarse as though restraining himself from screaming. This time, the lie, the words he said when he thought he could get through to her snagged in her mind. She finally made a connection between what he had just said and the words that had been repeating in her head on a loop for so long. She felt herself begin to descend towards comprehension. Her breath came in small gasps, her lungs failing to fill themselves as something constricted her chest.

The words already knew their place. They had been weaving through each waking thought, each sleeping dream for so long… she just hadn’t understood them. Couldn’t allow herself to understand them. She stopped trying to breath and just stood there watching his face. ​​Somewhere a tea cup broke and she raised her hand to touch his hair. It was bristly and curly without a hint of the soft curls that had covered their son’s head. She touched his brow, hard lines, angular and gaunt where their son’s face had been round and soft.

Her body realized it would die without air and she inhaled, breaking lose something that sounded like a sob and he pulled her into his arms. The words descended like vultures on an unclaimed carcass. The words made sense now.

Time of death eight thirty-two am.

She looked at the clock and the long minute hand shifted into place. Their child, her baby, he was gone, just like that. The clock had shifted and death had taken him.

Pain. It hurt. She started to scream. Mbongeni was on top of her, holding her down. They were on the floor somehow, surrounded by pieces of shattered tea cup. Their shattered life.

They screamed!

Written by Bubile Victoria Lessley, a clinical laboratory scientist working in molecular microbiology. A Malawian born American, an inveterate writer, a mother, a wife and a terrible cellist.

AFCON 2017: The Dying Minutes

The temperature is humid and the atmosphere is tense. This is not an
ordinary night in Gabon’s capital Libreville. Tempers are high and the
tempo of the game is temporarily calm, but otherwise, burst of speed,
flurry of tackles and sinew mostly ensues.
Supporters are making as much noise as they can; drums made of antelope
skins are taking a well-deserved beating. Patriotic fans are lungs out
blowing their own trumpet, sounds of battle cry, which compliments a
tussling mood in the arena.
Radiant faces painted with colours of red, green, yellow and many
other shades are reacting to every effort being made on the pitch with
thunderous eruptions of cheers and sometimes jeers. Stade de L’Amitie
is on fire.
For all to see, the huge screen in the stadium is projecting images of
nervous of substitute players with their officials sitting on the edge
the benches. Coaches, of either side, cautiously pacing here and there
inside their demarcated lines shouting instructions.
The fight for the prestigious continental title is on. The Indomitable
Lions of Cameroon and The Pharaohs of Egypt are neck-on-neck, a goal a
piece with only 3 minutes of regulation time remaining.
Millions across the globe are riveted to their screens to witness with
their own eyes the crowning of the new Kings of African football.
Meanwhile, in the outskirts of Chinamwali, a boy is watching the game
in a fully packed dark video showroom, made of thinly sliced wooden
planks with a roof that hardly supports the satellite dish. “The
Emirates”, this shack of hall is fondly known.
He holds on to his urine, he doesn’t want to miss any piece of action.
He places one leg on top of the other, fidgeting steadily as he watch
youthful Cameroonian side piling waves of pressure on the
well-decorated Egyptians.
Coming into this final as 7 times champions The Pharaohs are on top of
the pyramid as the favorites to win this part 2 of 2008 final, but not
until recently!
Its 88th minute; the indomitable Lions are roaring. Central midfielder
Siani let loose a flying ball towards substitute Vincent Aboubakar who
is surrounded with three defenders, this is right on the edge of
the box. There, the moment of brilliance, that will forever shine in
the annals of African soccer has begun.
The stadium is silent, Aboubakar kills it with his shoulder, flip it
over the head Egypt’s Gabir, he twists his frame to hit a bouncing
volley into the left corner of net while the 44 year old goalie El
Hadary looks emotionless
Oooooooooooh it’s a gooooaaaal!! Its 2-1 to Cameroon! The crowd is euphoric. The entire bench runs into
the pitch, supporters can’t believe it, ladies are jumping into hands
of the unknown men. Aboubakar is running towards the dressing room,
his teammates are after him.

The Dying Minutes was written by Paulstolic, a Storyteller based in Malawi. You can find him in Zomba (Mataware) telling stories to his family and friends

Eyes of Age

Youth waxed us with ideals

But age has shown us the real

 

Love is a maiden’s song

Of an eagle beyond the clouds

 

Beauty is a boy’s dream

Of a dove beyond mountains

 

Generosity burns to stumps

Fingers trying to stretch out

 

Charity is the arrogance driving

Those who keep others indebted

 

Unity is a shadowy pool where

Minorities are silently drowned

 

Truth is what lions posit

And that which guns guard

 

Lies are the bulwark of power

Crowned with a veneer of gold

 

Equanimity is the diamond tip

Tapering arrows of suffering

 

It draws out poetry from anger

Coiling out of incinerated hopes

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano (Mzuzu, 1984) 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.

When Dying Becomes a Metaphor

Every morning, Ma Akudinamma checks her countdown

It is ten days to her death today

Not as if a doctor had numbered her days

She believes death is not unexpected for a woman her age

 

Six days ago, her late cousin walked into her dream

Ma Aku knew she would answer the call in sixteen days

It was her dead relatives checking up on her

 

But this morning, she feels the street below her balcony differently

It always offers its noise right through her window

A wake-up call for each morning

Today, it seems it will show her something off the routine

 

She stands right where the street wants her to, at her window

The kiosk comes first, directly opposite, and she knows the drill

A regular stream of sinewy figures, stale breath, and stained teeth

Each person receives the gin in meekness, then pours libation

A drop or two to a god who is always absent

 

They don’t care about going places, about seeing the world

What does it matter to these folks? Life is a waste for them

And they love to have it so. Yet they know much laughter

The people of this local gin kiosk

 

She could have missed the kids at the borehole

But then one raises his voice high enough to lap at her window

Three kids, two wondering about the gender of the third

And then one reaches down to where the proof should be

His fingers do not linger, just a brush and he turns to the other:

O nwoke!” The genitalia is like what they have

 

The clergyman’s little girl comes around, the one next door

And the other kids reserve a place for her, then she speaks

Tiny words she says her mother told her:

“I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star”

The third kid joins the others and they laugh at her:

“Stars don’t shine in the morning,” they tell her

 

They are only kids and understand neither metaphor nor scripture

They cannot believe, cannot reach out to the sky to feel the cloud for stars

 

It is the street right there with a tribute to her death

And she knows the play of the kids is about life and death

Because she is old and understands allegory

And the metaphor of the star, which is that need to feel before believing

 

Ebenezer Agu lives in Nigeria. He is in his early twenties and has a degree in English and Literary Studies, from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves listening to music and reading novels and poetry; Rilke is among his favorite poets. He is presently working on compiling an anthology of contemporary African poetry.

The Riddle of Modern African Masculinities

Prologue

African men are presented as a riddle at best and a problem at worst.  Whether in the crude stereotypes in the media, where African men are portrayed as angry rebels obsessed with machine guns and rape, or in the more refined scholarly debates, that see modern expressions of African Masculinities as either logical conclusions to a patriarchal culture or a deviation from what used to be a more equal culture.  In all of these presentations, evaluations and reevaluations, one thing remains clear; African Masculinity has become a riddle, similar to that of the chicken or the egg.   The only difference is that in recent years the egg, which is African Masculinity, has had a big fall  and has shattered into a mess of civil wars,  a feminized epidemic and gender based violence.   And all the gender theorist and African leaders seem not to be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Key to solving riddles ( African riddles particularly) is the retelling of the story that leads to the riddle and then asking the not so obvious question.  In our case, with the riddle of African masculinities, it would be wise to take this approach and hear two stories that are critical in understanding the riddle; the story of colonialism and the story of African independence.  Because there is no identical experiences with colonialism and African independence between nations, I will tell a particular story of a particular nation

1st Story: The “Discovered” land
Once upon a time, long ago in a time when racism was scientifically justified and colonialism was a “civilizing” mission, a young European explorer, by the name David Livingstone, ‘discovered’ a land beside a beautiful lake.   David fell in love with this land and upon returning to Europe he persuaded entrepreneurs, Church leaders and Administrators that the land he had ‘discovered’ had potential for Christianity and commerce.   Following this appeal, entrepreneurs, missionaries and administrators flocked to this ‘discovered’ land quickly and set up shop.  The entrepreneurs set up farms and plantations, the missionaries set up churches and schools and the administrators set up a government and laws.  All of this was carried out with the enthusiasm of a “civilizing” mission and in no time the ‘discovered’ land resembled a civilized society in its emphasis on a wage economy that could be taxed.   Key to this transformation was Sir Harry Johnston, the Dutch Reformed Church and of course the entrepreneurs that made a wage economy possible.

Sir Harry Johnston was a typical renaissance man, commanding several skills and talents.  Apart from being an Administrator, he was a painter, a soldier and an anthropologist (yes! that curious group of colonial government anthropologist that Kwame Anthony Appiah warns us to be wary of). When he was not governing the ‘discovered’ land, Sir Harry took time out to document the people and culture of the ‘discovered’ land.  In his documentation, Sir Harry was preoccupied with the classification and sub-classification of people; attributing braveness to this tribe of people and duplicity to that tribe of people.  Johnston, in keeping with physical anthropology of his time, displayed a particular fixation with the African man as a sexual animal and even went to length of providing measurements of African male genetalia in his publications.  This was not so different from the missionary position.  Missionaries were obsessed with reordering each and every aspect of the life of the people of the ‘discovered’ land; from how they order their society to how they have sex.

The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) particularly illustrates this well.  The DRC missionaries established their mission station in the central region of the ‘discovered’ land; a region known for its matrilineal culture.  The matrilineal culture of the people of the central region, prior to the coming of the DRC missionaries, gave relatively more power to women (lineages were traced through the mother, women controlled the shrines of their religious system and upon marriage it was the husband that relocated to the wife’s homeland).  However after the arrival of the DRC missionary there was a power shift; marriages had to be ‘christened’ with the man’s name (with the title Mr and Mrs before the his surname ), only men could presume religious leadership (according to their interpretation of 1 Timothy 2: 8 -15) and boys were prioritized over girls in the missionary schools.

Now riddle me this.  What is being ‘discovered’ in this story; is it the land next to a beautiful lake that has potential for Christianity and commerce, a new people that have to be classified and sub-classified for the anthropology enterprise or  rather the reshaping of masculinities under the forces of certain expressions of Christianity, capitalism and anthropology?

2nd Story: The Return

Once upon a time, not so long ago, when independence was the war cry of African people and the wind of nationalism was sweeping across the continent, an old African doctor, by the name of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, returned to his homeland.  Banda had been trained in the United States of America and was practicing medicine in England when his countrymen invited him to return home and serve as a symbol and leader of independence.  He accepted the invitation and became the first prime minister of this independent state.  Kamuzu Banda castigated the colonial administration and called for the ‘return’ to the people’s traditional culture.  In his speeches he emphasized the respect of the elderly and the celebration of traditional dances.   In his administration this translated into the consolidation of power around himself and the reducing of women’s political participation to mere dancers at political functions. 

Banda’s economy mainly depended onhim providing the then South African Apartheid government with cheap labor.  Young men were encouraged to leave their homeland and travel to South Africa to work in mines without returning home for long periods of time.   Meanwhile older men were given positions of power and influence, regardless of their lack of education and experience.  Women were encouraged to follow Banda around, dancing for him at his political rallies and representing a ‘return’ to traditional culture.   The arrangement between Kamuzu Banda and the South African government didn’t last long and soon the young migrant labors returned home only to gerontocracy.

Now riddle me this.  What is being ‘returned’ to is in this story; is it Banda’s homeland, the young migrant labors homeland, the traditional culture or rather the same type of system that saw only a few privileged men ruling and benefiting from a large number of men and women in the colonial era?

 

 

Epilogue

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass a high-minded and arrogant Humpty Dumpty is engaged in an argument with Alice.  When Alice questions Humpty Dumpty’s usage of a particular word, he is quick to point out that whenever he uses a word it means whatever he chooses it to mean and that he can load so much meaning into one word.  I think Humpty Dumpty shares this attitude and approach with the colonialist administrators who believed they had “discovered” new lands and the African fathers of the nations who preached a ‘return’ to the traditional culture.  Sir Harry Johnston (and other anthropologist like him) in his scholarly enthusiasm was not just classifying African men but rather he was giving them an identity in the new imperial order.   And Kamuzu Banda (and other Post-colonial dictators like him), in his romanticizing the past, was not calling for a return but rather reshaping notions of being a man.

So what of African Masculinities now? Are they like the grass after elephants fight, victims of forces way bigger than them?  I can’t say for sure, but I think the answer is similar to the Hausa riddle: Me ya sa mutum na kamar borkonu? (Why is a man like pepper?) Answer:  Idan ba ka gwada shi ba, ba za ka iya gaya yadda karfin sa yake ba (Until you have tested him, you can’t tell how strong he is).  I believe the strength of African men is in their willingness to move away from being victims of forces and agendas and becoming agents in reshaping African masculinities positively

The author, Wamisala Waku Mbazo, is a street philosopher, you can find him at Zumba local market arguing and debating with traders.

Ebola

Pieces of consciousness stirred me awake. I felt the impression of the soft blanket on my skin, the hotness of the room, the stuffiness of the room and the drip gently resting on my wrist. My eyes opened to see. Where was I? I slowly searched the room for familiar faces among the beds that crowded the room. I saw none. I shut my eyes again and fell asleep. I awoke to a woman changing my drip she was dressed in a white plastic suit covering her whole body. I wanted to ask her where I was and what I was doing there but I was too weak to speak. She looked down at me, behind her goggles I saw a painful expression that I couldn’t decipher. I watched as her whiteness disappeared into the darkness.
My mind plays images of me playing “fulayi”. Thandanani laughs and threatens that this ball will “kill me” for sure. She swings her hand backwards and sends the colourful ball made from multi-coloured plastic bags accelerating towards me. I lift my feet sending thousands particles of dust into the air. My legs freeze straight in the air as the ball passes. I reach the ground…breathless from the physical exertion and exhilaration. I smirk deridingly at Thanda almost saying “I survived”.
My eyes open again to find the nurse changing my drip. “Where am I?” I asked.
“In a clinic…your family brought you here yesterday. You have Ebola.”
Her words fell into my ears like pieces of hail falling on one’s head: Cold…and painful.
“Where are they?” I wanted to ask where my Mother is?! Where is Thandanani?! But my strength failed me.
“They aren’t allowed in here.”
I wanted to ask why not. But my voice failed me. There was something about the nurses cold eyes that made me shrink inside. Where was my family and why couldn’t they be here.
I dont know how long I slept for. Lucid images flashed in my mind of Amayi.
“You have to eat.” She said gently as though she was speaking to a baby.
“I dont feel like eating.” I said glancing at the maize porridge in the bowl. It was going cold now and looked even less appetizing than before.
“Magodise, you have to eat so you can give your body the strength to fight the malaria in you.”
With a defeated look, she placed it aside.
“I feel hot.” I moaned.”And cold.”
Thanda took a wet face towel that was hanging on the metal bed post and started pressing it against my forehead. The coldness of the towel against my inflamed skin soothed me.
I was so thirsty I looked around for Amayi and Thandanani. I looked around the room it was filled with frail looking women and crying children. No mothers to comfort their children. The room smelled. I heard woman next to me call the nurse. The lady asked her to change her sheets. They were covered in blood she complained. The nurse in a big voice told her they were no more sheets. She went on shouting how she had already changed her sheets in the morning. I turned the other side to escape the nurse’s loud scary voice. There was a little girl much younger than me maybe eight who lay so still in her sleep. The nurse finally came near where I was. I asked her for water. She gave it to me. The nurse was scary she did everything with an angry face. When I asked her for water she looked at me like I was bothering her. She went to the little girl’s bed and turned her then went outside. She came back with two men in ebola suits and they took the girl outside the room.
“Where are they taking her?”
“She is dead. She has been dead since morning. “The woman who had complained about the bed sheets said in an agitated voice.
“What will they do with her body? Will they return in to her family?”
“No they will bury it near here in a plastic bag.”
I didn’t know the girl but my heart pitied her. She had been alone in here without a mother and now she was going to be buried alone. Even in death she was separated from her family.
I could not sleep that night. What if I died? Would I too be taken and buried in a plastic bag? Would my family attend the funeral? Would I have a funeral? Why weren’t they visiting me? Another little girl was brought into the bed the other girl slept in.
Mai mabvuto seeing that I was awake started telling me about her family. She told me how her last born had Ebola.
“I didn’t want to bring her to the clinic because I knew they wouldn’t let me see her. So I used to make her drink holy water that I got from Nigeria. I tried not to touch her. But she was in so much pain she kept crying. I couldn’t watch my child suffer like that. I wanted to hold her soothe: Ease the pain somehow the way only a mother can. So I did. She died in my arms.”
I wept as she told me. Where was my mother? She had just dropped me off at this clinic with no explanation. Did they think I would survive? Even if I survived would they welcome me with open arms or would they cast me aside as people had been doing with the few that had survived this plague. I thought of the little girl that died next to me and how she was buried in a plastic bag. She was forever separated from her family. Ebola had not just robbed her of her life. It had robbed her of love. It had robbed us all of our dignity. We had become statistics in a lost war.
Today Mai mabvuto died the whole of yesterday she had been bleeding and complaining of a headache. I watch as they take her body out of the clinic ready to put it in a plastic bag. I cling on to life. I refuse to die and be separated from my family’s love forever. I refuse to be a statistic…

  The Authour Wongile Mbano is a student  at University of Malawi, Chancellor College. She is currently working on publishing her Play Ka’ulimi

DADDY’S NEWS AT NINE

The door creaked open, and daddy walked into the lounge in his usual mien, undaunted, his shower-fresh smell of Power soap slowly filled the lounge, his Ankara wrapper fastened in tight rolls under his big belly. Then he sank himself into the sofa, tilted his head to the wall clock to check the time, then finally rested his gaze on the side of my face with a shadow under his eyes that said ‘about time’, all in a fuss that sliced the air of comfort, my face suddenly felt fat on the sides. Of course I surely knew it was nine, time for NTA news. I sat still, resolutely unshaken. I pursed my lips and stared blank at the Television, aware of the stretches of time when Alicia Keys bobbed her head melodiously, playing a piano, her braid fluttered around, “no one, no one, no one” the gentle trailing voice slightly cracked with emotions on Mtv Base.
And although it was one minute past nine, I resisted Daddy’s noisy gaze, I had been there from the greying of the evening to the darkening of the night, submerged in excitement
“Ahn-ahn, ngwa tinye NTA right now osiso” he yelled with a contempt-tinged tone. I panicked, threw the remote to the centre table, sprang up
“Are you alright? Ah-ahn, I say put NTA now kita” he repeated aloud, his stomach heaved in the rhythm of the syllables, his face hollowed in anger “This boy has no respect”
“I will put it sir, I’ve put it” I said in a hushed voice, hastily bending down to switch to NTA, leaving my glasses behind, I took off in a brisk pace, almost running into my bedroom, troubled in my own skin, the door banged.
Inside my room, the letters NTA hung heavy in the air, unsorted. The thought of NTA was a TV screen coated in a translucent haze of dust, northern-like voices read careful censored news in bogus traditional clothes “The Governor of Yobe is empowering youths with sewing machines” the words filed out of their mouth with stylish difficulty, headlines were written in white and bold old-school font styles upon chocolaty brown backgrounds below the screen. A minister always commissioned a bridge or a building, a commissioner commissions a borehole water, cutting ribbons in an entrance cladded with balloons. The following day, the first lady wears a black silky veil and empowers women with mosquito nets that heaped in bulk, then makes a speech of sickening banality with a chubby microphone half the size of her head. The president always said this and that, but never said any bad things, “The chief commander of the armed forces of the federation has addressed..” this soared my stomach or drove me into giddiness. When it was a police man, it even made me hungry.
I climbed into bed, I can’t, I won’t watch NTA, then in a wave of resentment the word “nonsense” rolled around my tongue, then out of my mouth, my head shook to my thoughts, and a ball of fire seemed to woosh from my head and flickered. There in my room, I listened to the discordant drone of our neighbour’s generators that came through the windows that flung open. This subtle tragedy (power cuts) was something that NTA never talked about, they never talked about anything, they often sounded like ‘How sweet my Nigeria’. And yet when I switched to Channels news, accusations flung back and forth, civilians spoke to reporters with tears in their voices, bruised lips, placards, melting eyeballs, orotund protests, impassioned rants about unemployment, even government officials punched each other at the House of Assembly.
I remained in my room, listening to the cacophonous noise of the generators, and in that ugly noise, I wondered whether NTA was truly Nigerian. Then the sound of NTA news “pararam, raraam, kwararaa” continued in the lounge like sneezing trumpets, I heard it. Finally I walked to the door and closed it in the best possible way, then blocked the keyhole with pieces toilet rolls. I curled myself on bed, buried my head in a pillow and drifted off to sleep.

Daddy’s News at Nine is written by Anthony Nonso Dim, a student of Univeristy of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. He was born in Lagos Nigeria, working on his first novel.