Archives for posts with tag: Africa

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.

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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.

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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 susanahcase.com.

sibanda poem
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 .

Collins

Key
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 terrain.org. 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.

COLLINS

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.

Author Photo

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 terrain.org.

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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.

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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.

GAUTIER
Sahara
by Lourdes A. Gautier

Like something out of Lawrence of Arabia we traveled across sand      dunes, Jeeps jostled
No roads, just mountains of sand.
The driver slipped in a CD of appropriate music so we were in a desert      movie of our own making.
If I had dreamed this up, it couldn’t be more perfect.
Lost in the Sahara I found the genesis of my existence.

Like something out of the English Patient we settled in tents where we      would sleep for the night.
But first there would be drinking, eating and dancing in the communal      tent.
As we stepped outside to see the fire pit and looked up at a sky lit
with millions of stars so close, we reached up to touch them
and thought that thousands have licked the icy coolness of star dust      from their fingers.

Like something out of my imagination of what North Africa would be
Drums beating in the still desert night
Flames stretched up to the inky star-studded sky.
Men in turbans and djellabas forgot that we are not Muslim women and      men,
as we all danced to the primal beat of the drums.

Like something in a Monet painting dawn brought colors
A million shades of pink, blue, orange and yellow hovering over the pale      sand
While I sat on a dune waiting for the sun to appear
Two men wrapped in the cloths of Berber semi-nomads
Kept me safe while the quiet drama of the sunrise unfolded before me.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with Hisham, a Berber guide, in Morocco (ca. 2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Of all the places I’ve visited, the most transformative trip was to Morocco. Camping in the Sahara in a tent was a gift to my soul. It was at once a magical experience as nothing beats staring at the stars in the desert and also humbling to be welcomed by people who had so little in the way of material wealth but were so rich in the intangibles that really matter. What an honor to visit such a beautiful country and meet some of the warmest people I’ve ever met while traveling!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier is a poet and writer of short fiction and non-fiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and raised in New York City she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. Taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University. Most recently published a short story, “1952,” in the May issue of Acentos Review. Her poem “Alien” appeared in the Silver Birch Press All About My Name series in July 2015. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories.

Mark
For me it was the trees
by Michael Mark

The ones stripped to their sap
by rhinos needing to scratch an itch,
dismembered by elephants
marking their existence,
left leafless by the insane baboons.

Broken and more beautiful,
they stood in defiance of death,
undeniably dead.

Even more than the too-close nightly roars
that shook our tent and made me leak pee,
then worry until light
that whatever predators were out there
would pick up the scent
and track it to us,

beyond the three giraffes
in a solemn row,
watching the jackals, hyenas and
cloud of vultures eating
the remains of their fallen elder,

it was the trees
that impressed me most
on our summer vacation.

Monuments to nothing I can name.
Were they even trees anymore?

From the crowded plane home,
I saw the skeleton sculptures
waving their tangled arms, frail,
skinless fingers clawing at the vastness
and me, not to forget.

In my bed, haunted.

I should have gotten out of the jeep.
I should have walked over to one of them
and sat down like Buddha.

© Michael Mark

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is a photo of my wife, Lois, and myself and one of the trees I wrote about on our photo-only safari in South Africa. Lois has a blog and has written about her travels, this trip included, at midlifeattheoasis.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was begun on the flight back home from our trip to Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long-distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

GEOSI PHOTO
Geosi
by Geosi Gyasi

Oftentimes, all there is to do is to ask your father or mother
about how you got your name. In Ghana, Geoffrey is regarded
as a Christian name; begged from the hands of the white man
after colonization. I have toiled and toiled explaining the name
to friends who ask me for the meaning. Father wouldn’t tell me
because according to grandmother, he wanted my name to rhyme.
In Secondary School, friends often called me Jeffrey because they
found it difficult to pronounce Geoffrey. In a telephone conversation,
I once told Daddy that I was going to change my name. He got furious
and promised to disown me if I ever did. When I entered university, I      gave
my name as Geosi; a combination of the first three letters in my first      name,
Geoffrey and the last two letters in my surname, Gyasi.

PHOTOGRAPH: At the library, Accra, Ghana [West Africa], reading a story to a select group of Junior High students during story time (November 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For most of my schoolmates, pronouncing my name “Geoffrey” was difficult, as they preferred to call me “Jeffrey.” Because of this, I decided to change my name to a  simpler and less common one. This is how I came to be known as Geosi.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Geosi Gyasi is a book blogger, librarian, reader, writer, and interviewer. His work has appeared or forthcoming in Visual Verse, Verse-Virtual, Misty Review, Brittle Paper, The New Black Magazine, Nigerians Talk, African Writer, Kalahari Review, Linden Avenue, and elsewhere. He blogs at geosireads.wordpress.com.

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Shade of Blue
by Olufunke Kolapo

Underneath this same
shade of blue,
I made houses
of sand and sticks,
boxes and weeds;
stuffed doll
strapped on my back
with mother’s head-tie.

I played house with
friends and siblings
pots of cans
soup of mushrooms
and water leaves
I watched ants
appear and disappear
into tiny holes.

I skinned my knees

and bruised my toes

I played hide and seek
in the open yard,
rain or sunshine
jumping ropes
and climbing trees.

I smiled and cheered
without reservation.
I sobbed and wailed
when sad or hurt
no shame or pretense.
I miss my younger self.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poems, my writings are like an extension of me. They are mostly my feelings about the people and things around me. Inspired by my inspiration from people, nature and things. I love writing. I love words; they are my drive, my anchor, and my safe place.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Olufunke Kolapo lives in South Western part of Nigeria. She is a student of English at the University of Ibadan, and a teacher turned writer. Her poems have been published in several online publications including Bright Life Cafe, The Writer’s Cafe, and UK Poetry Library. She blogs at http://kolafunmi.wordpress.com.

Peter_Carsten
SAHARA
By Diane Castiglioni

In the desert
this condition laid bare
stripped of pretense
deprived of case
the veils sundered
awareness brought to the edge of
insanity
for its clarity
near purity of need
absolute dependence
on this order
this composition
this near impossible
traverse
hairline width for deviation
an atom’s breath for dissention
“lighted fools the way to dusty death”
this craving
this delicate precision
here
in this place of

infinite need for shadow
demands
the presence of
slakes the thirst of

the courage required
necessitates the presence of strength
in extreme balance
like life itself to be wrought so
multitudes of sequence, proportion, levels,
relative, absolute perfection

            yet

            another place another time

            crimson sunsets
            and warm climes
            the taste of sand
            and burnt sirocco
            roaming caravans
            your sunsoft skin
            and miles and miles to go………………………

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written while living in Morocco, traveling with camels and a group of locals through the dunes. It speaks to the intensity of an unrelenting sun during the day and sleeping on the sands at night, carrying everything we needed to survive, most importantly the savvy knowing of the people who lived and breathed that land.

PHOTOGRAPH: “A Camel Caravan Crosses a Landscape” by Peter Carsten. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diane Castiglioni is a contributing author to the French work Dictionnaire Universel du Pain (Bouquin Laffont, 2011) and an editor of the International Cooperation for the Development of Space (ATWG, 2012). She has poems published in France, Lebanon, and New Mexico.