Archives for posts with tag: Africa

God’s-Eye View
by Carol Bliss

4:45 in the morning. The tent was dark.
I stumbled, putting my boots on, bumping my head on soft canvas.
The Tanzanian air smelled like rich, red earth.
Bending my head, I walked outside.
A jeep was waiting, its motor the only sound.
An African stepped out. I saw his watch shine in the darkness.
He called to me in a British accent. A slow rolling of the R’s
Carol, please get in.

Light beams in the darkness. We met, a gathering of eight.
Peaberry, arabica coffee was passed around, in an easy camaraderie, waiting
For the sound, like a shotgun blast
Then a whoosh of fire and gasoline, the burner, 200 degrees filling the hot air balloon
Green and gold, it started to rise, a sleeping Gulliver stretching muscles

Looking like an orb, a giant pear planted in a wicker basket, we were
Gliding like silk over the river, alive with hippos floating downstream, giraffes loping through grasslands
jackals running, strange birds, goshawks sitting on top of flat, black acacia trees
We, in the balloon, eyes wide, drawing in breath, the sound of clicking shutters attempting to capture the wonder of the kingdom below, animals simply moving,
Going about their natural morning, running, floating, swimming, feeding, in a glorious ritual

The pilot let out air, the balloon descended
We stepped out as different people
Who had seen something holy.
Days of awe.
From a God’s eye view.

PHOTO: Cheetah and hot air balloon (Serengeti, Tanzania, January 2018) by Hu Chen.

Carol Bliss Serengeti 2011

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am in a writer’s group that meets every Tuesday and Thursday. We were given the prompt “One Good Memory.” My mind rewound to the most exhilarating day of my life, my 60th birthday. I flew in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti in Tanzania. I felt the dark, the excitement, the loping animals, and the poem just came.

PHOTO: Carol Bliss, Serengeti, Tanzania (September 2011).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Bliss is an artist, author, inspirational speaker, and Emeritus professor of communication at Cal Poly University. She has taught communication at Claremont Graduate University, Chino Men’s Prison, and at Universities in Thailand and China. She teaches and leads workshops in spirituality, creativity, communication, and ancient wisdom traditions. The author of six published books, she lives in Naples, California. Her books include Love Heals (co-written with Martha Bass), Spiritual Life Lines; Naturally Fit; The Irresistible Allure of Juicy Red Apples (a new perspective on Adam and Eve); and If I Had My Life…The Prison Papers: Insights from Inmates.

a warden brings joy
by Olafisoye-Oragbade Oluwatosin David

dust was always a tenant, we just didn’t know
until we teased the rug to let loose its prisoner.

furniture, electronics, books, utensils,
all were lined up like orderly soldiers.
a memory was forming
the taste of of my mom’s favorite dish.

we would be greeted by new neighbors,
new dogs trying to voice our names,
new walkways, new scenes to feed on
but nothing made me my eyes water more than when I saw his smile.

he flung his new gift over his shoulder like a hunter
returning home with game
this warden would set up camp and imprison dust in his house,
so he carried a smile that could fit the whole world,
and danced out with his new rug.

PHOTO: Woven Rug by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “a warden brings joy” is a poem about one of my favorite memories. Growing up in Edo State, Nigeria, my family of seven didn’t have so much, but we had just enough to get by. This poem speaks of when we were moving from one apartment to another. The previous apartment was not tiled so we had to get a rug that could cover the living room, but the new apartment, where we were moving, was tiled so this rug was no longer needed. A young man came to help us put our things together and pack up. I remember both himself and me rolling the rug together (at this time I didn’t know we would not need it) and, afterwards, my dad told him to go home with the rug. He was so excited, I still remember that joy till now. I couldn’t help it then, I cried, and when I told my dad why I was crying, guess what? He cried, too. I try to characterize the rug as a warden on these bases: 1) It traps dust, or imprisons dust, 2) It seemed to be responsible for setting free two different displays of emotion, that is the unfiltered joy in its new owner, and the tears in the writer’s eyes, my eyes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Olafisoye-Oragbade Oluwatosin David is a 4th-year medical student at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara, Nigria. Known by the pseudonym “King Davey,” he is a poet and spoken-word artist who enjoys playing with words. David won the ILUMSA Malaria Day Poetry Contest in 2021 and was on the top 20 long list of the 2021 Nigeria Students’ Poetry Prize (NSPP). He was also awarded the Best Poetry Content at Poethon Season 4 and ranked 3rd at YWCA’s Spoken Words Artist of the Year 2021. His works are published or forthcoming on African Writer, CÓN-SCIO Magazine, Arts Lounge NYC, Shuzia, SprinNG, BPPC Anthology, and elsewhere. David is @thekingdavey on Instagram and @TosinOlafisoye on Twitter.

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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

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by Hana Njau-Okolo

You are
I am

Those patterns etched into your face
Are tears carved under my eyes
Draining through the mask.

A glacial screen
The landscape of my life
Frozen into the familiar.

Washing away
As men in their folly
Plunder the spoils of the earth.
Face-to-face you say
Do not weep for me
Weep for yourself
And for your children.
For the Sahara
And its spreading.

For your soul
Marooned on an
Island of dreams

PHOTO: Mount Kilimanjaro at sunset, view from savanna landscape in Amboseli, Kenya, Africa. Photo by Michal Bednarek, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired after my visit to the home of my late grandparents after two decades of living in the U.S.  I was saddened by the lack of snow on Kilimanjaro, and the lack of acknowledgement of global warming. I also pondered on what I had accomplished in my years of living away from home.

PHOTO: The author at the Nairobi National Museum next to a statue of Dr. Louis Leakey, a British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist whose work was important in demonstrating that humans evolved in Africa.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Hana Njau-Okolo is a Kenyan-Tanzanian born writer who lives with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia. The mother of three adult children, she is a writer of short stories who blogs at Her short story “The Shady Taxi Driver” was published in the 2012 African Roar anthology series out of South Africa.

The Return
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

In Ghana also once known as The Gold Coast
Exist twelve forts now world heritage sites
Built by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and an Ashanti King
Elmina Castle aka St. George of the mine castle was my point of return

Full of fear and curiosity, I visited Elmina Castle in Cape Coast
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the coastal town
Spying waves of the Atlantic Ocean smashing the black stones on the      beach
Was welcomed into a sad, empty, dirty whitewashed fort with brown roof      tiles

Now descendants return to see, smell, touch and pay homage to their      ancestors
Entering various doors in the castle
Doors where people and goods stolen, snatched, taken away were      exchanged
At the door of no return, people now slaves left for good

I entered the rooms at Elmina, rooms of a lived contradiction
Of a normalized life by the slave master
Rooms where life was enjoyed to the fullest
Rooms where misery was felt to the fullest

Above a church, kitchen, bedrooms and dining room
Rooms where deals were made
Rooms where rape took place
Rooms where the master lived

At the bottom dungeons and slave rooms
The female dungeon where I felt their spirits and smelled them
The solitary confinement where the guide shut me in – I screamed
And the door of no return where I saw the Atlantic Ocean and the boats

As I left the castle, I read the Elmina Castle plaque
A promise for similar injustice never occur
A memory of those who had died
An invitation to those who return

PHOTO: “Elmina Castle, 2016” by Anne Namatsi Lutomia.

licensed Nancy Haggarty

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 in a location known in the present day as Elmina, Ghana. The site was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara Desert. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became a stop on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Captives, both men and women, were imprisoned at the castle, and later branded, placed on a ship, and sent to a foreign land, where they were auctioned off, then sent to work for their owners. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain. The Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, gained its independence in 1957 from Britain, and assumed control of the castle. Elmina Castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  (Source: Wikipedia)

PHOTO: Skull and crossbones mark the door to the dungeon at Elmina Castle for male slaves slated to be transported on ships and sold at auction. Credit: Nancy Haggarty, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a trip that I took to Ghana in 2016. Although I am not a descendant of slaves, I visited the castle to learn and to pay homage to those who had undergone this dehumanizing experience. My visit stayed with me and gave me greater understanding regarding African Americans and others whose ancestors were enslaved.

PHOTOS: Elmina Castle, Ghana, on Atlantic Ocean, by Sergey Mayorov, used by permission. Sign at Elmina Castle by Anne Namatsi Lutomia (2016).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of Champaign Urbana (Illinois) poetry group. She enjoys writing poems about her lived experience and nature. She writes poems in Swahili on Twitter in malumbano style, where poets respond to each other through their poems. She has published poems with BUWA and recently published a poem in the Silver Birch Press Wearing a Mask Series.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River
I have spread my dreams under your feet
                                        —William Butler Yeats
by Susana H. Case

In the early light, a line of curio sellers
crosses Victoria Bridge
from Zambia, their trinkets
wrapped in sacks draped over bicycles.
They push up the hill,
past the hut
where tourists are tied in harnesses to free fall
through mist over the Zambezi.

The bungee jumpers scream in terror,
stopped just short of the rapids,
just short of the crocodiles.

The zealot imperialist, Cecil Rhodes,
envisioned the bridge as part of a train route,
Cairo to the Cape,
died without realizing his dream.
His remains buried in the Matopos Hills,
anti-colonialists threaten to dig him up,
send him finally back to Hertfordshire.

The peddlers dream of enough to eat
as they unwrap a carved wooden elephant,
lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino. From their pockets,
they pull out freshly pressed devalued
hundred-trillion Zimbabwean dollars,
try not to catch the eye of the police.
If a foreigner stops to look,
more hawkers run over, flash
more wooden animals, more souvenir money.

You mean nothing to us,
a curio seller says if they refuse
to buy another lion or elephant.

PHOTO: Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders) waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe (taken from Zambian side of falls) by Steven Heap, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after a visit to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls. Though the falls are beautiful, there is a disjuncture between the lives of the local people and the tourists, who come to see the falls or bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge, that is jarring and difficult to forget, as the poverty is so extreme. And then there are the colonial implications of the bridge, brainchild of the grand imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

PHOTO: The author with Victoria Bridge and mist from Victoria Falls in the background, from the Zimbabwe side, 2015.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train in 2020 from Broadstone Books. Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press) won an IPPY Award in 2019. She is also the author of five chapbooks, two of which won poetry prizes. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was rereleased in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Catamaran, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, Rattle, RHINO, and many other journals. She is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City. Visit her at

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The Question Is: To Mask Or To Unmask?
by Ndaba Sibanda

In the difficult times
of the COVID-19 pandemic
it is advisable for one not only to observe
self-distancing guidelines and good hygiene
but also to wear a face mask when one goes out

It is common to see surgeons wearing their masks,
it is unfortunate to hear that doctors have run out
of masks in the middle of a pandemic like the COVID-19,
such exposés shoot out a thin mask of laxity and bungling

It is unfortunate that one dodger got away with defaulting
because he was wearing a mask when suddenly he bumped
into his guarantor and creditor who couldn’t recognize his face,
even his speedy staggering gait failed to unmask him on the spot!

PHOTO: Kgalalelo Moyo, a poet from Zimbabwe’s second largest city — Bulawayo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nominated for A Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net, Ndaba Sibanda is the author of Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things, The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence, The Way Forward, The Ndaba Jamela, and Collections and Poetry Pharmacy .


by Clive Collins

I lost our car key somewhere on the sand at Governor’s Beach, or if not there, then coming or going along the forest track that led it.

Governor’s Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches along the Freetown Peninsula, a long white curve with a winding, shifting river that emptied out of the mangroves into the Atlantic Ocean. There was seldom anyone on the beach, and so it was a favourite, but we had been stopped and robbed before on our way to it, and so it had become our routine to leave everything locked in our Renault 12 and go down to the beach in our swimming clothes. The single key to the car stayed in the pocket of my shorts.

Except that afternoon, it did not.

It was our fifth year in Africa, and our last year there as a couple. We had quarreled that morning and during the afternoon at the beach, scarcely exchanged a word. Late in the day, thirsty, tired, hungry and each of us still nursing our own private grievances, we got back to the car and I found I no longer had the key. We looked everywhere there was to look: it was pointless.

Finally, my soon-to-be-ex-wife in her bikini and me in my shorts, we walked up to the paved road to try to thumb a lift back to our house. We felt exposed, and we were. The light was gathering. Night would soon fall. Afraid, for the first time in a long time, we held hands.

Someone or something blessed us. A car came. The people in it were our close neighbours.

Back at the house, I burgled my own home. We were quiet that night, but also sad. Perhaps we understood that more than a key was lost.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, somewhere in Sierra Leone, 1978.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this a challenging prompt because, it seems to me, the things we possess and then lose are never simply what they are, but all the myriad associations that we as possessors invest them with either over a long period of time, or at the moment they are lost or found, or even after that moment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins has spent the greater part of his life working as a teacher in Ireland, Sierra Leone, and Japan. He is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. More recently his work has appeared in online journals such as Penny, Cecile’s Writers, The Story Shack, and He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. A chapbook of his short stories is to be published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2017.


Into Africa
by Clive Collins

We were young and only two years wed, but had already moved three times and now, after a year in Edinburgh, were to go to Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the West Coast of Africa. Flurried weeks of visas, medicals, inoculations that conjured our upper arms into painful party balloons, notice given to landlord and employers, goodbyes begun, and then the movers came.

Burly men with quiet voices, they arrived one morning, cleared a space in our sitting room and told us to put everything we wanted packed in the middle of it. They would return in the afternoon. So much had already been discarded — the sentimental detritus of life — that our pile, when it was done, was not a large one: kitchenware, crockery, a kettle, two teapots, bed linen, books, record albums, our cheap hi-fi, and two table lamps. Set out on our landlord’s red carpet, it did not seem much. Packed into boxes after the movers were done, it seemed less.

We flew to Africa from London one warm late September afternoon, read Journey Without Maps and The Heart of the Matter on the plane, and landed at Lunghi Airport, where there was no one to meet us. We took a bus, rode a ferry across a wide brown river, and, finally, went by taxi up a high hill known locally as a mountain. That night, we clung together on a damp bed inside a tiny house the walls of which mould had coloured an extravagant shade of green. Outside lightning bolts burst in the surrounding forest and floodwater rose up to the windowsills. Weeks passed. We were given a better house. Our boxes came. We unpacked and in the lamp-lit evening felt at home, which, until we moved again six years later, we were.

IMAGE: At home in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1974, I accepted a lectureship at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This piece attempts to compress the sense of hectic dislodgement and gradual resettlement that I experienced at that time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clive Collins is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. More recently his work has appeared online and in print in magazines such as Penny, Local Nomad, The Story Shack, and

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Honeymoon at Voy (Tsavo East, Kenya)
by Lin Whitehouse

The day began before sunup with an early morning bush walk, legs covered to protect from ticks and being careful not to startle a wounded hippopotamus; in the afternoon heat a jeep safari tracking elephant, lion, giraffe, and more. After a hot shower, an evening meal of ADT (any damn thing) accompanied by wine. Later, alongside a lake where hippos splashed and cranes and storks fished for supper, a party of strangers sat on logs around a campfire, nightcaps in hands, recounting interesting stories while wildlife roamed in the darkness. Finally our camp-beds didn’t seem uncomfortable as we embraced sleep.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: ‘Maisha’ (means Life in Swahili) – my new husband and I (Kenya, 1992).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Having just celebrated 23 years of marriage I thought it was apt to write about my honeymoon! We actually got married outside Baden Powell’s house, ‘Paxtu’ in Nyeri, Central Kenya, having spent the night before at Treetops. My poem relates to a luxury tented safari we took in Tsavo East at Voy on land belonging to Kenyatta. I don’t do camping, luxury or not, and despite there being no plug socket for my hairdryer, it was the most wonderful holiday.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lin Whitehouse lives in an idyllic East Yorkshire Village in the United Kingdom and writes as often as her day job and family life give her time for. Scripts are her favourite writing genre and she has had several short plays performed in theatres around the North of England.