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A Chat with Mahogany
by Bonface Isaboke Nyamweya

This buzz and hum
of voices
And the growl
of traffic
Blend into a solid mutter of sound
That taps my mind only partly
My mind is lost
In the pustule of rage
Ripening deep down in me
From yesterday’s chat I had with my friend:
The mahogany to the right of my land
Fenced with rock plants, flowers, cacti, and ornamental trees
I had gone there for circumspection
“You established me here forty years ago.”
He bubbled flapping the leaves
“But I’m alone. My children, you’ve sure murdered for cents…”
“How do you know that?”
“I have been watching you for long
The power-saw sliced them for charcoal
And some succumbed to your axe for firewood
And today you’ve come, to see how much I’ve fattened for splitting
You have demolished our generation
And by so doing, you’ve demolished your generation.”
A gentle breeze whistled and died
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“We the trees are your ecological neighbours.
When you efface us that way, who can purify the air you inhale?”
“We shall create artificial trees.”
“What will be the cost of doing that?”
“Don’t mind.”
“But we the trees feed you too. Will the artificial trees bear fruits?
Will they give you herbs?
Will they host the birds?”
I had no word to say
Tears tore themselves down my cheeks
I apologized to my friend Mahogany
I have started a mission
Of a seedbed of trees
With a spade and hoe at hand
Join me we plant the trees
For my efforts of care, yet more your efforts of care
Shall keep our vegetation thriving
And soothe our wounded nature.

PHOTO: Mahogany Tree by Rafał Próchniak.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was writing this poem, I remembered how we planted trees in Jinja at the Philosophical Centre of Jinja while pursuing my BA in Philosophy, Environmental Ethics unit. Seeing trees as our ecological neighbours is something vital in order to respect vegetation as part of our ecosystem, hence not as simply objects for our gratification. This is crucial in the healing process of our mother earth. This is the gist of my poem “A Chat with Mahogany.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in 1997, Bonface Isaboke Nyamweya is a Kenyan poet, novelist, and young Pan Africanist. His short story “Whose Title Died” was published by the Pan African Writers Association in their anthology, Voices that Sing Behind the Veil (2021). Peeling the Cobwebs (2020) is his first novel and it treats the theme of tribalism in an imaginary African country called Ricafa. Her Question Pills (2020) treats feminism and African womanism. He is currently winding up his Masters in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Find him on Facebook and on Amazon