Black Barbershops and Salons in San Diego

For African-American people, grooming is very important. And this is why they put premium on finding the right hair stylist, salon or barbershop that can groom their hair the way they like it.

In San Diego there are African-American owned businesses that provide professional hair grooming service. Rawknykz Barbershop is one of those black barbershops that is being patronized by the African-American community specifically those near Parkview. Check out their official website for their shop’s exact location.

There are several black barbershops for each of San Diego’s neighborhoods. (Photo Credits)

“At Rawknykz Barber Shop, we strive for excellence and the opportunity to give our customers the best experience possible. With top of the line Master Barbers, our haircuts, customer service, and shop environment can’t be duplicated. Servicing all Military, Local Law Enforcement and Fire Personnel; Pilots, Business Men, and Students of all schools…

Come by and enjoy a game, have some espresso or just vibe to some good music! Cause Rawknykz Barber Shop is your home away from home.”

Book an appointment here.

Black Barbershops in San Diego

The King’s Barbershop is also another thriving African-American Business in San Diego. It has been providing male grooming services since 2010. Among the services that they provide include: haircuts, skin fades, braids, dreadlocks, and tapers among other male hair grooming services.

“We are a family owned business located in the City Heights/North Park neighborhood of San Diego. Specializing in haircuts for all hair types. Other services we offer include skin fades, dreadlocks, hair extensions, and more. We have been open since 2010. Come in to see what all the hype is about! We work on appointments so please call ahead. Haircuts are $20& up.”

Check out their full list of services here.

Black Hair Salons in San Diego

San Diego also has its share of African-American Hair Salons that provide female hair grooming services in the community. Innovations 2000 along El Cajon Boulevard is one of these salons. Their services include Hair Styling, Perms, and hair weaves.

“We are a full-service hair salon in San Diego that provides complete hair care services for all textures including shampoo, blow dry, press/flat iron, curls of all types and bodywaves, wave nouveau, hawaiian silky, the jherri curl look, ponytails, french rolls and up-dos, bantu knots, and mohawks on natural and curly hair, natural twists, corn row styles, corn row ponytails, afro maintenance and cuts or maintenance of your natural hair, and more. All styles can be done on natural hair. We cater to the needs of all the members of your family.”

Check out their official website here.

San Diego African-American Businesses have indeed been serving the community satisfactorily.

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San Diego African-American Business Directories

The African-American community in San Diego is closed knit, and so it is understandable if they choose to patronize businesses of their fellow Black American. Fortunately in San Diego, most African-American businesses have been listed down in online directories accessible to everyone.

San Diego African-American Business Directories
African-American Businesses In San Diego. (Photo Credits)

Buy Black San Diego is one of those business directories. It is essentially a free online directory of African-American goods and services available all over San Diego. They have posted in their official website requirements for black businesses before it can be included in the directory.

“We are building the largest directory of Black owned businesses in San Diego. In our attempts to make this community thrive and grow, please remember: (1) Must include a picture of the owner’s face to be approved; (2) Business must be black owned meaning: businesses or organizations in which blacks or African-Americans own 51 percent or more of the equity, interest or stock of the business; (3) Pledge to spread the word about this site and the other great businesses listed herein.”

Check out their free online resource here.

Black Chamber of Commerce

The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce also has its own directory of black-owned businesses within the San Diego area. It covers the Food and Beverage Industry, Professional Services industry and more businesses owned by Black Americans within San Diego.

In their official website, they gave details on how an African-American business person in San Diego can become a member.

“Inquiries directed to the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce for products and services are referred only to members of the organization. This provides your company the opportunity to increase its exposure, gain information, and successfully develop within and outside the CSDBCC.”

Check out their official website here.

Online Directory Application

Where U Came From is meanwhile a Digital Application aiming to connect customers to black owned businesses all over the United States. They too have their section on Africa-American owned businesses in the whole San Diego area.

A description of the app has been published in their official homepage.

“We develop and market The WhereU app and the website, WhereYouCameFrom.Biz which publish crowd-sourced listings and referrals about black-owned businesses. Our business search functionality offers a real-time leaderboard of black-owned businesses across categories, ranked by peer-to-peer referral counts.  WhereU was launched during Black History Month on February 15, 2016 by Dr. Dionne Mahaffey, a business psychologist, and tech executive.”

Read more here.

There are indeed more and more choices for services and goods offered by African American Businesses in San Diego.

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African-American Restaurants in San Diego

Soul food is a known African-American Cuisine prevalent in the whole United States including San Diego. San Diego has a fair share of Soul Food Restaurants established by African American Businessmen in San Diego.

African-American Restaurants in San Diego
Soul food is enjoyed by the African-American community in San Diego. (Photo Credits)

Flavors of East Africa is located along El Cajon Boulevard. They looked back on how they started in their official website here.

“June who is originally from Kenya takes pride in serving only the most authentic and freshest dishes to his customers. Cooking had been a lifelong trait for June since he would help his mother in the kitchen while growing up. When June moved to San Diego his neighbors in his apartment were immediately attracted by the sights and smells of his cooking. June began cooking meals for his neighbors for extra cash. Realizing that a market for authentic East African food didn’t exist in San Diego June decided to open up a catering business serving up his highly sought authentic dishes. Years later Flavors of East Africa has expanded to serving at four farmer markets and opening up their first restaurant on El Cajon Boulevard. “

Check out their menu here.

Sports Bar

Spice and Soul Kitchen and Tap is also one restaurant specializing in soul food. It is located along Avati Drive. In their official website, they described their offerings, menu, and operating hours.

“Spice + Soul specializes in comfort food, craft beer and embracing the casual San Diego vibe. We offer an excellent, rotating craft beer selection that includes 20 Taps. Spice and Soul is a dog-friendly restaurant and a great place to take a date, watch the game, or meet up with old friends. Some of our most popular items include Pulled Pork (we smoke all our meats), Beer Infused Shrimp, Avocado Salad, Hot Mess Fries and BK’s BBQ.”

Take a look at their menu here.

Family Restaurant

Brother’s Family Restaurant is yet another restaurant specializing in soul and comfort food. It is located along Waring Road. In their official website, they described their special offerings.

“We would like to invite you to our family owned restaurant to enjoy a real home away from home experience. We offer a wide variety of good home cooking that our patrons have enjoyed since 1994. We are best known for our Grandma Jennies Pancakes, these mouthwatering buttermilk pancakes are made from scratch and have been enjoyed by our family for many generations.”

Take a look at their menu here.

African American Cuisine is growing steadily in popularity in the San Diego area.

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African American Business Organizations in San Diego

African-Americans have been doing business in San Diego since the time the black community grew in San Diego in the1890s. A good resource of History of African-American Businesses in San Diego was written and compiled by Mooney and Associates for the Centre City Development Corporation and published by the San Diego Government’s Official Website.

African American Business Organizations in San Diego
The San Diego Business Community includes African-American Enterprises too. (Photo Caption)

“As the African-American community began to grow, several Black owned or managed businesses sprung up to serve the African-American community, and in some cases the larger white population as a whole.  These included the Walter Meadows watch shop and Edward Anderson’s IXL (I Excel) Laundry.  Henry H. Brown opera ted a barber shop at 509 5th Avenue between 1895 and 1897 and over the next sixteen years he owned or worked at several barber shops on 5th Avenue and possibly on I (Island) Street.  Other examples include George Millen and Daniel Fry (St. Julian Blacksmith Shop) who operated blacksmith shops in downtown near Market Street.”

Download the whole file here.

Afro-American Business Groups in San Diego

Since the African-American community grew in San Diego, local businesses they operate flourished as well. Business organizations have been formed too.

The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce is one of the African-American Business Organizations in the area. They hold office along Euclid Avenue.

“OUR MISSION is to create generational wealth through business enterprise, education, employment, and investing. Our GOAL is to support the business, career, and financial success of our Chamber members which results in the economic empowerment of our Communities. The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce utilizes innovative programs, networking opportunities, and business partnerships to advance and strengthen Inclusive Economic Development throughout the City and County of San Diego.”

Check out their official website here.

Contractors’ Association

San Diego also has a local chapter of the Black Contractor’s Association. This specific group aims to help create opportunities for African-Americans involved in the country’s construction industry. In their official website, they mentioned about their efforts in San Diego.

“Together with the supporters of the BCA and its members, African-Americans and others can anticipate the future being much brighter and wed many more successful endeavors as master builders. Become a supporter of the Black Contractor’s Association and have your name or corporation engraved in stone at the point of entry for the apprenticeship students of this facility as a ‘Corner Stone Contributor’. BCA salutes San Diego’s major black builders and supporters for their contributions and hard work!”

Check out their homepage here.

African-American Businesses in San Diego are indeed flourishing.

Interesting Articles:

The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright

English

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

They helped each other carry the body wherever it wanted to go; the market, the shops, up and down trees and mountains, anywhere that called for movement. Even in the water, they worked well together to help the body float, swim or dive. They were democratic and egalitarian in their relationship. They could also borrow the uses of the product of other organs, say sound from mouth, hearing from the ear, smell from the nose, and even sight from the eyes.

Their rhythm and seamless coordination made the other parts green with envy. They resented having to lend their special genius to the cousins. Jealousy blinded them to the fact that legs and hands took them places. They started plotting against the two pairs.

Tongue borrowed a plan from Brain and put it to action immediately. It begun to wonder, loudly, about the relative powers of arms and legs. Who was stronger, it wondered. The two cousin limbs, who had never been bothered by what the other had and could do, now borrowed sound from mouth and begun to claim they were more important to the body than the other. This quickly changed into who was more elegant; arms bragged about the long slim fingers of its hands, at the same time making derisive comments about toes being short and thick. Not to be outdone, toes countered and talked derisively about thin fingers, starving cousins! This went on for days, at times affecting their ability to work together effectively. It finally boiled down to the question of power; they turned to other organs for arbitration.

It was Tongue who suggested a contest. A brilliant idea, all agreed. But what? Some suggested a wrestling match – leg and arm wrestling. Others came up with sword play, juggling, racing, or playing a game like chess or checkers but each was ruled out as hard to bring about or unfair to one or the other limb. It was Tongue once gain, after borrowing thought from Brain, who came with simple solution. Each set of organs would come up with a challenge, in turns. Arms and legs agreed.

The contest took place in a clearing in the forest, near a river. All organs were on maximum alert for danger or anything that might catch the body by surprise, now that its organs were engaged in internal struggle. Eyes scanned far and wide for the tiniest of dangers from whatever distance; ears primed themselves to hear the slightest sound from whatever distance; nose cleared its nostrils the better to detect scent of any danger that escaped the watchful eyes and the listening ears; and the tongue was ready to shout and scream, danger.

Wind spread news of the contest to the four corners of the forest, water and air. Four legged animals were among the first to gather, many of the big ones holding green branches to show they came in peace. It was a colorful crowd of Leopard, Cheetah, Lion, Rhino, Hyena, Elephant, Giraffe, Camel, long horned Cow and short-horned Buffalo, Antelope, Gazelle, Hare, Mole and Rat. Water-Dwellers, Hippo, Fish, Crocodile, spread their upper part on the banks, leaving the rest in the river. The two leggeds, Ostrich, Guinea-fowl, and Peacock flapped their wings in excitement; birds chirped from the trees; Cricket sang all the time. Spider, Worm, Centipede, Millipede crawled on the ground or trees. Chameleon walked stealthily, carefully, taking its time while Lizard ran about, never settling down on one spot. Monkey, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, jumped from branch to branch. Even the trees and the bush, swayed gently from side to side, bowed, and then stood still in turns.

Mouth opened the contest with a song:
We do this to be happy
We do this to be happy
We do this to be happy
Because we all
Come from one nature.

Arm and Legs swore to accept the outcome gracefully; no tantrums, threats of boycott, strikes or go-slow.

Arms issued the first challenge: they threw a piece of wood on the ground. The leg, left or right, or in combination, was to pick up the piece of wood from the ground and throw it. The two legs could consult each other, at any time in the contest, and deploy their toes, individually or collectively, in any order to effect their mission. They tried to turn it over; push it; they tried all sorts of combinations but they could not pick it up properly: and as for moving it, the best they could do was kick it a few inches away. Seeing this, Fingers borrowed sounds from the mouth and laughed, and laughed. Arms, the challenger, paraded themselves, as in beauty contest, showing off their slim looks, and then in different combinations picked the piece of wood. They threw it far into the forest, eliciting a collective sigh of admiration from the contestants and spectators. They displayed other skills: they picked tiny pieces of sand from a bowl of rice; they threaded needles; they made little small pulleys for moving heavier wood; made some spears and threw them quite far, moves and acts that the toes could only dream about. Legs could only sit there and marvel at the display of dexterity and flexibility of their slim cousins. Arms of the spectators clapped thunder in admiration and solidarity with fellow arms, which upset the legs a great deal. But they were not about to concede: even as they sat there looking alittle bit glum, their big toes drooling little circles on the sand, they were trying to figure out a winning challenge.

At last, it was the turn of legs and toes to issue a challenge. Theirs, they said, was simple. Hands should carry the whole body from one part of the circle to the other. What a stupid challenge, thought the arrogant fingers. It was a sight to see. Everything about the body was upside down. Hands touched the ground; eyes were close to the ground, their angles of vision severely restricted by their proximity to the ground; dust entered the nose, causing it to sneeze; legs and toes floated in the air: nyayo juu, the spectators shouted, and sang playfully.

Nyayo Nyayo juu
Hakuna matata
Fuata Nyayo
Hakuna matata
Turukeni angani

But their attention was fixed on the hands and arms. Organs that only a few minutes before were displaying an incredible array of skills, could hardly move a yard. A few steps, the hands cried out in pain, the arms staggered, wobbled, and let the body fall. They rested and then made another attempt. This time they tried to spread out the fingers the better to hold the ground but only the thumbs were able to stretch. They tried cartwheels but this move was disqualified because for its completion it involved the legs as well. It was the turn of the toes to laugh. They borrowed thick throatal tones from the mouth to contrast their laugh from the squeaky tones the fingers had used. Hearing the scorn, the arms were very angry and they made one desperate attempt to carry the body. They did not manage a step. Exhausted the hands and fingers gave up. The legs were happy to display their athletic prowess: they marked time, trotted, ran, made a few high jumps, long jumps, without once letting the body fall. All the feet of the spectators stamped the ground in approval and solidarity. Arms raised their hands to protest this unsportslimbship, conveniently forgetting that they had started the game.

But all of them, including the spectators, noted something strange about the arms: the thumbs which had stretched out when the hands were trying to carry the body, remained separated from the other fingers. The rival organs were about to resume their laughter when they noted something else; far from the separated thumb making the hands less efficient, it enhanced their crasping and grasping power. What’s this? Deformity transformed into the power of forming!

The debate among the organs to decide the winner went on for five days, the number of fingers and toes on each limb. But try as they could they were not able declare a clear winner; each set of limbs was best at what they did best; none could do without the other. There begun a session of philosophical speculation: what was the body anyway, they all asked, and they realized the body was them all together; they were into each other. Every organ had to function well for all to function well.

But to prevent such a contest in the future and to prevent their getting in each others way, it was decided by all the organs, that thenceforth the body would walk upright, feet firmly on the ground and arms up in the air. The body was happy with the decision but it would allow children to walk on all fours so as not to forget their origins. They divided tasks: the legs would carry the body but once they got to the destination, hands would do all the work that needed making or holding tools. While the legs and feet did the heavy duty of carrying, the hands reached out and used their skills to work the environment, and ensure that food reached the mouth. Mouth, or rather, its teeth, would chew it, and send it down the throat to the tummy. Tummy would squeeze all the goodness and then pour it into its system of canals through which the goodness would be distributed to all the nooks and crooks of the body. Then tummy would take the used material into its sewage system, from where the body would deposit it in the open fields or bury it under the soil to enrich it. Plants would grow bear fruit; hands would pluck pick some of it and put in the mouth. Oh, yes, the circle of life.

Even games and entertainments were divided accordingly: singing, laughing and talking were left to the mouth; running and soccer largely left to the legs; while baseball and basketball were reserved for the hands, except that the legs were to do the running. In athletics, the legs had all the field to themselves, largely. The clear division of labor made the human body a formidable bio machine, outwitting even the largest of animals in what it could achieve in quantity and quality.

However the organs of the body realized that the permanent arrangement they had arrived at could still bring conflict. The head being up there might make it feel that it was better than the feet that touched the ground or that it was the master and the organs below it, servants only. They stressed that in terms of power, the head and whatever was below it, were equal. To underline this, the organs made sure that pain and joy of any one of the organs was felt by all. They warned the mouth that when saying my this and that, it was talking as the whole body and not as the sole owner.

They sang:
In our body
There’s no servant
In our body
There’s no servant
We serve one another
Us for Us
We serve one another
Us for Us
We serve one another
The tongue our voice
Hold me and I hold you
We build healthy body
Hold me and I hold you
We build healthy body
Beauty is unity

Together we work
For a healthy body
Together we work
For a healthy body
Unity is our power

This became the All Body Anthem. The body sings is to this day and this is what tells the difference between humans and animals, or those that rejected the upright revolution.

Despite what they saw, the four-legged animals would have none of this revolution. The singing business was ridiculous. The mouth was made to eat and not to sing. They formed nature’s conservative party and stuck to their ways never changing their habits.

When humans learn from the net-work of organs, they do well; but when they see the body and the head as parties at war, one being atop of the other, they come close to their animal cousins who rejected the upright revolution.


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, was born in Kenya, in 1938 into a large peasant family. He was educated at Kamandura, Manguu and Kinyogori primary schools; Alliance High School, all in Kenya; Makerere University College (then a campus of London University), Kampala, Uganda; and the University of Leeds, Britain. He is the recipient of ten Honorary Doctorates from universities in Denmark; Germany; Britain; New Zealand, America and Africa. He is also Honorary Member of American Academy of Arts and Letters and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A many-sided intellectual, he is novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist. His books include Devil on the Cross; Matigari; Wizard of the Cross, (English translations from the Gikuyu originals)

 

Jalada Translation Issue 01: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Introduction

Original story in “Kikuyu” by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Translations:


・ “English” by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o ・ “Amharic” by Mahelet Lisanwork ・ “Dholuo” by Richard Oduor Oduku ・ “Kikamba” By Peter Ngila ・ “Lwisukha-Lwidakho” by Lutivini Majanja ・ “French” by Renée-Edwige DRO ・“Arabic” by Nazar Mubarak Al Emam ・ “Luganda” by Nakisanze Segawa ・ “Kiswahili” By Idza Luhumyo ・“Afrikaans” By Maneo Mohale ・ “Hausa” By Mazhun Idris ・ «


First Intermission: A recorded reading of the original story in Kikuyu by Eunice wa Mwaurah


・ “Ikinyarwanda” by Louise Umutoni & Suzana Mukobwajana ・ “Meru” by Njagi Brian ・ “Lingala” By Richard Ali A Mutu ・ “IsiZulu” by Sihle Ntuli ・ “Igbo” by Nzube Ifechukwu ・ “Ibibio” by Daniel Ben Udoh ・“Somali” by Khaloudy Mohamed Sa’eed & Abdillahi Raage “Sayyidka” ・ “isiNdebele” by Junior Moyo ・“XiTsonga” by Moses Mtileni ・ “Nandi” By Gideon Chumo ・ “Rukiga” By Clare D Kyasiimire ・


Second Intermission: A recorded reading of the English translation by Wanjiku Mwaurah


» ・ “Bamanankan” by Isumahila Sanba Tarawele ・ “Shona” by Tendai Huchu ・ “Lugbarati” By Diana Santiago ・ “Lubukusu” by Emily Wekulo ・ “Kimaragoli” by Anne Ayuma Odary ・ “Giriama” by Ngala Chome ・ “Sheng” by Mwangi Wa Mahugu (Mwas) ・ “Naija Languej” by Eriata Oribhabor ・ “Marakwet” by Paul Kipchumba ・ “Ewe” By Lydia Yayra Pentem Ayisah ・ «


Third Intermission: A recorded reading of the Sheng translation by Mwas Mahugu


Coming soon in PDF | EPUB | MOBI | KINDLE

Credits
Notes On Translators and Participating Editors

 

Ntụgharị Ịkwụ Ọtọ: Ma Ọ Bụ Ihe Mere Mmadụ Ji Akwụ Ọtọ Aga Ije

Igbo

Nzube Ifechukwu

N’oge tere aka gara aga mmadụ ji ụkwụ na aka aga ije, dị ka ụmụ anụ ndị ọzọ nwere ụkwụ anọ. Mmadụ ka edi, agụ ma ọ bụ rino agasi ike. Ụkwụ na aka ka dị onwe ha nso karịa akụkụ ahụ ndị ọzọ: ha nwere myiri njikọ ọkpụkpụ: ubu na ukwu; nku aka na ikpere ụkwụ; nkwonkwo ụkwụ na nkwonkwo aka; obo ọkpa na obo aka, ebe nke ọ bụla nwere mkpịsị ụkwụ na mkpịsị aka ise, na mvọ na mkpịsị ụkwụ na aka ọ bụla. Obo aka na obo ọkpa nwere myiri mkpịsị ụkwụ na mkpịsị aka ise malite n’isi ụkwụ na isi aka ruo na nnwa ụkwụ na nnwa aka. N’oge ahụ isi aka dị mkpịsị aka ndị ọzọ nso, otu isi ụkwụ si dị mkpịsị ụkwụ ndị ọzọ nso. Ụkwụ na aka na-akpọ onwe ha ụmụnne.

Ha na-enyere onwe ha aka na-ebu ahụ eje ebe ọ bụla ọ masịrị ya ije; ahịa, ụlọ ahịa, mgbago na mgbada ukwu osisi na ugwu, ebe ọ bụla kwesịrị ngagharị. Ma n’ime mmiri, ha na-arụkọ ọrụ ọnụ nke ọma inyere ahụ aka ka o see n’elu mmiri, gwuo mmiri ma ọ bụ maba n’ime mmiri. Ha gbakọrọ aka ọnụ, hara nha, na mmekọrịta ha. Ha nwekwara ike ịrịọrọ uru akụkụ ahụ ndị ọzọ, dị ka mkpọtụ n’aka ọnụ, anụmihe n’aka ntị, isi n’aka imi, tụmadị ịhụ ụzọ n’aka anya.

Mmekọrịta ha enweghị atụ mere akụkụ ahụ ndị ọzọ enwewe ntaji anya. O wutere ha ịrịọsị ụmụnne a uru ha dịgasị iche iche. Ntaji anya mechiri ha anya nke na ha ahụghị n’ụkwụ na aka bu ha eje ebe dị iche iche. Ha bidoro kpawa nkata megide ihe abụọ abụọ ndị a.

Ire rịọrọ ụbụrụ uche ma tinye ya n’ọrụ ngwa ngwa. O bidoro iche, na-ekwuputakwa echiche a, banyere ike aka na ụkwụ. O chere, onye ka ike. Ụmụnne abụọ, ndị ọ dịghịbụ echu ụra ihe ibe ha nwere ma ọ bụ nwere ike ime, bịazịrị rịọrọ ọnụ mkpọtụ wee bido sịwa na ha ka mkpa n’ahụ karịa ibe ha. Nke a eteghị aka tupu ọ bụrụzia onye ka mma ka a na-azọ; aka turu ọnụ banyere ogologo mkpịsị aka tara ahụ n’ụzọ mara mma nke obo aka, ebe ọ kọtọkwara mkpịsị ụkwụ maka ịdị mkpụmkpụ na ntinti. Apụụ kọgbuo ha, mkpịsị ụkwụ kwughasịrị ihe aka kwuru ma kwuo na nkọtọ maka mkpịsị aka tara ahụ, ụmụnne agụụ na-egbu! Nke a dị otu a ọtụtụ ụbọchị, mgbe ụfọdụ ọ na-eme na ha anaghị arụkọzị ọrụ ọnụ nke ọma otu ha kwesịrị. N’ikpeazụ ọ bụzị onye ka ike ka a na-ajụ; ha jekwuuru akụkụ ahụ ndị ọzọ ka ha kpee nke a.

Ọ bụ Ire tụrụ atụmatụ ka a maa aka. Onye ọ bụla kwekọrịtara na ọ bụ atụmatụ ọma. Mana gịnị? Ụfọdụ tụrụ atụmatụ ka a gbaa mgba – ụkwụ na aka gbaa mgba. Ndị ọzọ sịrị ka ha kụọ mma, tụọ oroma, gbaa ọsọ, ma ọ bụ gwuo egwuregwu dị ka cheesị ma ọ bụ chekaasị mana a katọrọ egwuregwu nke ọ bụla sị na o siri ike ime ma ọ bụ na o megidere otu n’ime aka ma ọ bụ ụkwụ. Ọ bụkwazị Ire, mgbe ọ rịọtara ụbụrụ uche, gboro nsogbu a n’ụzọ dị mfe. Otu n’ime aka na ụkwụ ga-ama ibe ha aka, n’otu n’otu. Aka na ụkwụ kwekọrịta.

A mara aka a n’ebe a sụchara asụcha n’ime ọhịa, dị otu mmiri nso. Akụkụ ahụ niile kere nkwụcha maka ihe egwu ọ bụla ma ọ bụ ihe ọ bụla nwere ike ime ahụ na-atụghị anya, ugbua akụkụ ahụ ya na-asọ mpi n’ime onwe ha. Anya lee ebe dị anya, o lee ebe dị nso maka ihe egwu dịkarịsịrị nta si akụkụ ọ bụla abịa; ntị jikeere onwe ha ịnụ mkpọtụ dịkarịsịrị nta si akụkụ ọ bụla abịa; imi hụchasịrị oghere ya nke ọma ịnụ isi ihe egwu ọ bụla nke anya ahụghị ma ọ bụ ntị anụghị; ire dịkwa njikere iti mkpu ike, ihe egwu.

Ifufe fesara ihe akụkọ ịma aka a n’akụkụ anọ ọhịa, mmiri na ikuku. Ụmụ anụ ndị nwere ụkwụ anọ so na ndị mbụ gbakọrọ, ọtụtụ n’ime ha ndị buru ibu ji anaka akwụkwọ ndụ iji gosi na ha bịara n’udo. Ọ bụ igwe mara mma nke Agụ, Ọdụm, Edi, Enyi, Ene, Ehi nwere ogologo mpi, Ehi nwere obere mpi, Mgbada na Oke. Anụ ndị bi na mmiri, Azụ, Agụ-iyi, gbasara elu ha n’ikpere mmiri, hapụ akụkụ ahụ ha ndị ọzọ na mmiri. Ndị nwere ụkwụ abụọ fere nku ha kpaka kpaka n’ọñụ; ụmụ nnụnụ nọ n’ukwu osisi agụ egwu; Nte nọkwa n’abụ oge niile. Udido, Idide, Esu na-akpụgharị n’ala ma ọ bụ n’ukwu osisi. Ogwumagala ji nwaayọ nwaayọ na-azọpụ ije ebe Ngwere na-agbagharị, ịnọ otu ebe ekweghị ya. Enwe, Adaka, na-amagharị n’anaka osisi. Tụmadị osisi na ọhịa fegharịrị nwaayọ nwaayọ n’akụkụ ọ bụla, hulata, bịa nọdụ otu ebe n’otu n’otu.

Ọnụ ji abụ wee mepee ịma aka a:

Anyị na-eme nke a ka obi wee dị anyị mma
Anyị na-eme nke a ka obi wee dị anyị mma
Anyị na-eme nke a ka obi wee dị anyị mma
Maka anyị niile
Si n’otu chi.

Aka na ụkwụ ñụrụ iyi na ha ga-anabata ihe ọ bụla ọ pụtara n’obi ọcha; o nweghị onye ga-ewe iwe, jụ ọrụ ma ọ bụ ghara ịrụsizi ọrụ ike otu o kwesịrị.

Aka bu uzo ma ụkwụ aka: ha tụpụrụ mpekere osisi n’ala. Ụkwụ, nke ekpe ma ọ bụ nke nri, ma ọ bụ ha abụọ n’otu, ga-ewelite mpekere osisi dị n’ala ma maa ya. Ụkwụ abụọ nwere ike ịgba izu, mgbe ọ bụla n’oge ịma aka a, nwekwaa ike iji mkpịsị ụkwụ, n’otu n’otu ma ọ bụ ha niile, n’ụzọ ọ bụla iji nweta ihe ha chọrọ. Ha gbalịrị ịtụgharị mpekere osisi; ịkwa ya; ha gbalịrị n’ụzọ dị iche iche ma ha enweghị ike iwelite ya nke ọma: gbasara ịkwagharị ya, naanị ihe ha nwere ike ime bụ ịgbapụ ya ntakịrị. Mgbe ha hụrụ nke a, mkpịsị aka rịọtara ọnụ mkpọtụ wee mụọ oke amụ. Aka, ndị mara aka, na-agagharị, ka ana-ama aka onye ka mma, na-egosi onwe ha tara ahụ n’ụzọ mara mma, bịazie welite mpekere osisi a n’ụzọ dị iche iche. Ha tutere ya aka n’ime ọhịa, nke mere ka ma ndị nkiri ma ndị ha mara aka zituo ume na mmasị. Ha zikwara ihe ndị ọzọ ha nwere ike ime: ha wepụrụ mpekere aja n’ọkwa osikapa; ha ganyere owu na ntụtụ; ha rụrụ ọbere ụdọ nta iji adọli osisi ndị buru ibu; ha pịrị ube ole ma ole tutee ya aka, ihe ndị mkpịsị ụkwụ nwere ike ịrọ naanị na nrọ. Ụkwụ nọ ala ebe ahụ bụrụ naanị anya n’ihe ụmụnne ya tara ahụ nwere ike ime. Aka ndị nkiri kụrụ egbe igwe na mmasị na nkwado aka ibe ha, nke kpasuru ụkwụ iwe nke ukwuu. Mana ha adịghị njikere ikwete mmeri: ka ha nọ ka ndị nọ n’ọbere mwute, isi ụkwụ ha na-ese ihe okirikiri n’aja, ha na-achọ ihe ọmụma aka ga-enye ha mmeri.

N’ikpeazụ, ọ bụ ụkwụ na mkpịsị ụkwụ ka o ruru iwepụta ihe ọmụma aka. Nke ha, ha kwuru, dị mfe. Aka buru ahụ niile site n’otu akụkụ ama buje n’akụkụ ọzọ. Mkpịsị aka chere na ngala, kedu ụdị ọmụma aka ndị enweghị uche bụ nke a. Ọ bụ ihe nkiri dị mma nlele. Ihe niile gbasara ahụ tụgharịrị atụgharị. Aka metụrụ ala; anya dị ala nso, ha enwekwaghị ike ịhụ ụzọ nke ọma maka ha dị ala nso; izuzu bara imi, mee ya ọ na-eti uzere; ụkwụ na mkpịsị ụkwụ ko n’elu: ndị nkiri tiri mkpu, nyayo juu, kwewe ukwe n’egwu.

Elu anyị na ụkwụ
O nweghịkwa ihe anyị na-eche
Elu anyị na ụkwụ
So ụkwụ
Ka anyị fee n’igwe

Mana anya ha dị n’ebe obo aka na aka nọ. Akụkụ ahụ na-eme ihe ire dị egwu naanị nkeji ole ma ole gara aga, enwekwaghị ike imegharị. Ka ha gara nwantakịrị, obo aka bere akwa ụfụ, aka niile mara jijiji, nọdụ otu ebe, tupu ha ahapụ ahụ ka ọ daa. Ha zuru ike ma nwalee ọzọ. Ugbua ha gbara mbọ ịgbasasị mkpịsị aka nke ọma iji jide ala ma naanị isi aka nwere ike ịgbasa. Ha chọrọ ịga ije agụ mana akagburu ije a n’ihi na ha enweghị ike ịga ya naanị ha ma e wezuga ụkwụ. Ọ bụ mkpịsị ụkwụ ka o ruru ịmụ amụ ugbua. Ha rịọtara ọnụ onu na-asụ asụ iji wee nwee ihe dị iche n’amụ ha na onu ọkwa mkpịsị aka ji mụ. Mgbe ha nụrụ ịkwa emo nke a, aka were oke iwe bịa gbakwuo mbọ otu ugboro ibu ahụ. Ha enweghị ike ịzọpụ otu aka. Mgbe ike gwụrụ ha obo aka na mkpịsị aka kwetere na ọ gaghị ekwe ha me. Obi dị ụkwụ ụtọ igosipụta ihe ha nwere ike ime: ha kwadoro, gbaa mwe mwe ọsọ, gbasie ọsọ ike, wụọ ebe dị elu, wụọ ebe dị anya, na-ekweghị ka ahụ daa ọ bụladị otu mgbe. Ụkwụ ndị nkiri niile zọsiri ike n’ala na nkwado. Aka weliri obo aka ha elu iji kpesa n’ihe a apụkwaala n’egwu, ma chefuo na ọ bụ ha malitere ya bụ egwu.

Ma ha niile, tụmadị ndị nkiri, chọpụtara ihe mgbanwe banyere aka: isi aka ndị nke gbasara mgbe obo aka na-agbalị ibu ahụ, anọghịzịkwa mkpịsị aka ndị ọzọ nso. Akụkụ ahụ ndị ha na aka na-adọ ndọrọndọrọ a chọrọ ịmalite ọchị ha mgbe ha chọpụtakwara ihe ọzọ; kama mgbasa isi aka ndị a gbasara ime ka obo aka ghara ịrụzị ọrụ ya nke ọma, o mere ha enwee ike ijisikwu ihe ike. Gịnị bụ nke a? Ọrụsị gbanwere bụrụzịa ike mmepụta!

Ñgọ akụkụ ahụ niile siri iji kwekọrịta onye meriri ruru ụbọchị ise, ọnụọgụgụ mkpịsị aka na mkpịsị ụkwụ dị n’aka ma ọ bụ n’ụkwụ ọ bụla. Agbanyeghị ole ha si gbaka mbọ ha enweghị ike ikwu hoo-haa onye meriri; aka na ụkwụ bụcha ọka ibe n’ihe ha makarịsịrị eme; o nweghị nke pụrụ ime ma e wezuga ibe ha. Ha bidoro itule uche: ha niile jụrụ, gịnị bụ ahụ, ha abịa chọpụta n’ahụ bụ ha niile dum; ha nọ n’ime onwe ha. Akụkụ ahụ ọ bụla kwesịrị ịna-arụ ọrụ nke ọma tupu akụkụ ahụ niile arụwa ọrụ nke ọma.

Mana ka e wee gbochie nsogbu dị otu a n’ọdịniihu na ka e wee gbochie aka na ụkwụ ise okwu ọzọ, akụkụ ahụ niile kpebiri na bido oge ahụ n’ahụ ga-akwụzị ọtọ aga ije, ụkwụ akwụsie ike n’ala, aka adị n’elu n’ikuku. Obi dị ahụ ụtọ na mkpebi a mana ọ ga-ahapụ ụmụaka ka ha jiri aka na ụkwụ gaa ije ka ha wee ghara ichezọ mbido ha. Ha kere ọrụ eke: ụkwụ ga-ebu ahụ mana ngwa ngwa ha ruru ebe a na-eje, aka ga-arụ ọrụ chọrọ mmepụta ma ọ bụ ijide ngwa ọrụ. Ebe ụkwụ na obo ọkpa na-arụ ọrụ dị ike nke obubu, aka setịpụrụ jiri aka ọrụ ha na-arụ okirikiri ahụ, na-ahụ na nri ruru ọnụ. Ọnụ, mba, ọ bụ eze, ga-ata ya, lodaa ya n’afọ site n’akpịrị. Afọ ga-apịchapụta ihe ọma ya niile bịa wụnye ya n’ime ọwara dịgasị iche iche ebe ihe ọma a ga-esi gbasasị n’akụkụ ahụ niile. Afọ ga-abịazị weje ihe ndị a e tinyegoo n’ọrụ n’akụkụ ahụ ndị na-ahụ maka ikpochapụ ihe ndị a, ebe ahụ ga-esi nyụpụ ya n’ala gba ọtọ ma ọ bụ lie ya n’ime aja. Ukwu osisi ga-eto mịa mkpụrụ; aka ga-aghọrọ ụfọdụ ma tụnye ya ọnụ. Ee, okiriki nke ndụ.

E kere ma egwuregwu ma ihe mkparị amụ eke otu o kwesịrị: a hapụụrụ ọnụ ịgụ egwu, ịmụ amụ na ikwu okwu; a hapụụrụ ụkwụ ịgba ọsọ na egwuregwu bọọlụ n’ebe ọ dị ukwuu; ebe e debeere aka egwuregwu ịkụ bọọlụ na ịtụ bọọlụ, e wezuga n’ụkwụ ga-agba ọsọ e kwesịrị ịgba. N’egwuregwu ịgba ọsọ na ịwụ elu, a chaara ụkwụ ọgbọ, n’ebe ọ dị ukwuu. Okike ọrụ nke a doro anya mere ahụ mmadụ ọ bụrụ ngwa ọrụ na-eku ume bụ a kwaa akwụrụ, karịa ọ bụlagodi anụ bukarịsịrị n’ihe o nwere ike imepụta ma n’ọnụọgụgụ ma n’ịbụ gem.

Mana akụkụ ahụ niile chọpụtara n’ụdị ọnọdụ a ha kwekọrịtara ka nwere ike ibute ọgbaghara. Isi ịnọ n’elu ebe ahụ nwere ike ime ya o chewe na ọ ka ụkwụ na-emetụ ala mma ma ọ bụ na ọ bụ nna ukwu ebe akụkụ ahụ ndị nọ ya n’okpuru bụ naanị ụmụ odibo. Ha mere ka o wee anya na n’ebe ike dị, isi na ihe ọ bụla nọ ya n’okpuru ha nha anya. Iji gosi ka nke a si dịka mkpa, akụkụ ahụ hụrụ n’ụfụ na ọñụ nke otu n’ime ha metụtara ha dum. Ha dọrọ ọnụ aka na ntị na mgbe ọ na-ekwu nke mụ a na nke mụ ọzọ, na ọ na-ekwu nke a dị ka ahụ niile, ọ bụghị dị ka ọ bụ naanị ya nwe.

Ha gụrụ egwu:

N’ahụ anyị
Enweghịkwa odibo ọ bụla
N’ahụ anyị
Enweghịkwa odibo ọ bụla
Anyị na-efe onwe anyị
Anyị maka Anyị
Anyị na-efe onwe anyị
Anyị maka Anyị
Anyị na-efe onwe anyị
Ire onu anyị
I jide m ejide m gị
Anyị arụọ ahụ gbasiri ike
I jide m ejide m gị
Anyị arụọ ahụ gbasiri ike
Mma bụ ịdị n’otu

Anyị ga-agbakọ aka rụọ ọrụ
Maka ahụ gbasiri ike
Anyị ga-agbakọ aka rụọ ọrụ
Maka ahụ gbasiri ike
Ịdị n’otu bụ ike anyị

Nke a abụrụ Abụ nke Ahụ Niile. Ahụ ka na-ekwe ya ruo taa, ọ bụ nke a na-ekwu ihe dị iche n’etiti mmadụ na anụmanụ, ma ọ bụ ndị jụrụ ntụgharị ịkwụ ọtọ.

Agbanyeghị ihe ha hụrụ, ụmụ anụ nwere ụkwụ anọ agaghị enwe ntụgharị a. Nke ịgụ egwu kpara ha ọchị. Ọnụ bụ iri nri ka e mebere ya, ọ bụghị ịgụ egwu. Ha wubere otu ndị ọdịnaala achọghị mgbanwe ma kwụdosie ike n’ụzọ ha jụ mmegharị.

Mgbe ụmụ mmadụ na-amụta ihe site na ngalaba akụkụ ahụ ha niile, ha na-eme nke ọma; ma mgbe ha hụrụ ahụ na isi ka otu abụọ nọ n’agha, otu n’elu nke ọzọ, ha na-adị ka ụmụnne ha ụmụ anụmanụ ndị nke jụrụ ntụgharị ịkwụ ọtọ.

~
Edited by Dr. Nkem Ekene Osuigwe
Read the English translation – The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright by Ngugi wa Thiong’o


Nzube Ifechukwu was born on May 25, 1992 in Onitsha, Nigeria. He studies electrical engineering at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has been published in the Sunday Sun (Nigeria) and on Sentinel Nigeria, amongst others.

 

“The Chase” by Sitawa Namwalie

THE CHASEHim
I saw her,
Sitting on a bar stool right across the floor.
Naked legs crossed.
Slim fingers grip a Cosmopolitan,
Sexy, easy, beautiful, a catch,
“Just my type!’’
How long is this going to take?
I relax to scheme a little.Her
I spied him from the corner of my eye,
At the far end of the bar.
What a sight!
A fine man,
Skin as smooth as milk,
Dark lashes ring his eyes,
Strong shoulders, broad,
His wallet deep,
A single malt whisky smoking before him.
A fine man to distinguish my blood line,
I relax to dream a little.

Him 
But, first things first,
I take the fake gold band from my pocket,
Slip it onto my ring finger.
Now I’m married,
Ms. Cosmopolitan will come to my rescue,
Rush to set me free!
“Just to tie me down again?”
The logic escapes me.

Her
A smile suffuses me, head to heart,
I relax to scheme a little.

Him
A smile engulfs me, head to toe,
I relax to dream a little

Her
He moves towards me,
A long sinuous stranger
His arms sway, rhythm and blues,
A man in control of my destiny.
He stops,
Stands behind my bar stool,
I breathe in, I breathe out,
A taste of skin, warm musk, on my tongue,
I watch without seeing.

Him
Her back is arched,
She looks down into her drink,
Turns sideways, to the left,
Eyes closed,
The profile of a queen, in reprieve.
She takes a long swallow of her drink,
Bright red lips grip the edge of the glass,
Her ostrich neck gulps,
The barman’s mirror reflects her eyes back at me,
I’m watched without seeing.

Her
His eyes capture me for a brief eternity,
He holds me in languid embrace.
Hands by his side,
His moist mouth opens to speak,

Him
She’s ready with my rebuff.
To sweeten the chase,
I give her silence.

Her
“No, what do you take me for?”
My protest dies unspoken,
Tension exhales,
He walks away in silence,
Leaves me shaking my head,
I feel the anger from being ignored.

Him
I don’t have to speak, but I do,
“Excuse me, Kamau, another one!’’
The barman winks,
He knows, it is time,
In slow ceremony, in measured flourish,
he pours a single malt,

A brother stands with another,
“On the rocks?” he asks,

Her
“Hmmm,” he moans,
He turns to leave, he stops,
His voice, dark liquid, speaks,
“A refill for the lovely lady.”
He walks away,
“Mmmm,” the bar man echoes.

Him
I know by now she’s breathless,
Ready for me to reel in,
A fish gasping air,
I let her flap by herself some more,

Her
An involuntary breath escapes my lips.
Scattered thoughts!
“Ok that was smooth,”
I have to admit,
*“Mmmm,”* liquid smooth!

Him
I watch her wrestle,
She fights hard to hold her zeal in check.
The chase is over.
My insides smile.

Her
I look down,
I hide my eagerness,
Get busy with hidden details,
Take my car keys out of my bag,
Check my phone,
No missed calls.
Slow and easy,
The element of surprise is advantage.

Him
She gulps her drink,
Slings a large bulky bag onto her shoulder,
Swings a long lean leg off the bar stool,
I watch her approach me,
Arms stride,
There is purpose in her sway,
This is war,
The element of surprise is advantage.

Her
He smiles a wide welcome,
Sits relaxed,
A man ready to accept his due.
I turn left, towards the door,
To leave.

Him
What the,
Where is she going?
I stand up!
Caught out!

Her
Unease tilts him off centre,
I can see him, he is visible,
For one brief eternity, he hesitates.

Him
She smiles, white teeth,
Pink tongue peeps out of her open mouth,
Her bold eyes sparkle.

Her
I watch him close-up,
He holds his drink in a bloodless fist,
All pretence has run away,
Mouth open, eyes gape,
Fish flapping.

Him
No mercy!
She keeps walking,
Cold sweat breaks in pin pricks on my hot brow,
For heaven sake
She looks even hotter from behind!

NYEMELEARINGuyo muthii
nilimkiche
ametuliz kwa stool ya bayesa tu na usuko.
tulegs tumeanikwa ametucross,
tufingers tupienga tunabamba ki Cosmo,
msexe, hana hype, msupa, wa kukwachu.
“type nguyaz kabsa!’’
hi rysto itatake ithaa gani jo?
nacheza chini kuchora kiasi.uo mshii
nilimsorora na side
huko fuarthestes ya bayesa.
aiyeiya!
mse mpoa kuruka.
skin smooth ka milko.
tueye lashes tudark tumering mboni zake.
mabega zimestunya, bigi.
walenje imenasho.
makali, smoke ndo zake.
mse mpoa wa kudistinguish blood line nguyaz.
nacheza chini kudream kiasi,

uyo muthii
but, vitu za fao zikam fao,
nachuck ring ya ugoro fake kwa poke.
naivaa kwa ring finger.
sasa nimemarika.
u madam macosmo atakwom kuniokolea.
speedisha kuniset free.
ndo aniteke tena?
Sishikanishi kidhibitisho kinaniepuka.

uo mshii
naskia kusmile, toka head mpaka kwa heart,
nacheza chini kuchora kiasi.

uyo muthii
naskia kusmile, toka head mpaka toe.
nacheza chini kudream kiasi.

uo mshii
ananikamia.
stranger long amebend kiasi
arms zake zinasway, R n B.
mse ana destiny nguyaz in control.
anastop.
anastand manyu ya stool nguyaz ya bayesa,
navuta pumz.
sample ya skin, iko warm, naifeel kwa tongue,
nasorora bila kucheki.

uyo muthii
back yake imebend.
anakiche down tei yake,
anaturn na side, left,
mboni ameclose,
ana profile ya queen, kupoteza maithaa,
anakandamiza tei yake,
glass inagripiwa na lips zinashine za red,
neck yake ya kiostrich inagulp,
mirror yam see wa bayesa inamsho akinikiche.
nasororwa bila kuchekiwa.

uo mshii
eyez zake zinanikuachu ka forever,
kinjaro ananihug viheavy.
hands ziko side tu,
lips zake wet zinaopen kurongesa.

uyo muthii
ako ready kunisho zii,
kuadsia utamu kwa mhando.
namchezea ya mbuzi.

uo mshii
zii, kwani umenibeba vijea?
maringo zangu zinadeady
nabreath out kutoa tension.
anasepa bila kurongesa.
ananisare nikimshangaa tu.
nakula moto juu ya kulengwa.

uyo muthii
si must nibonge, lakini nita.
“Niaje Kama, tembeza!”
mse wa baresa anawink.
anamesea, ni maithaa.
kiceremony, kinjar,
anaseti tei jamo

bro anaside na mchizi wake.
on the rocks? anaask.

uo mshii
Hmmm, anamoan,
anaturn kujitoa, anastop,
voice yake dark akibonga.
adsia lady mlovle.
anajitoa.
“mmmmm,” mse wa bayesa anasay.

uyo muthii
namesea by hii ithaa anavuta pumz.
ako ready nimwingize box yangu yote.
kafish kanajijumpisha,
namsare ajihangaishe solo kiasi,

uo mshii
breath sijachorea inahepa lips za mine.
mafikira zimeparakasha.
“poapoa hapo poa’’
nahav kuadmit.
mmmm,smooth tena sana!

uyo muthii
namkiche akihangaika.
anafight hard kujihold back.
msako imeland.
kindanindani nasmile mbaya,

uo mshii
nacheki down,
nasunda vile naidai.
jipa shugli na madetailz zimesundwa.
chuck keyz nguyaz za ndai kwa bagiko nguyaz,
kiche nangos nguyaz.
hakuna ma missed callz.
mos mos na ize.
nikimsurprise ndakuwa mbele,

uyo muthii
anakandamiza tei yake.
anaseti kibagiko kibigi kwa shoulder yake.
anaswing leg long toka kwa stool ya bayesa.
namkiche akinikwomia.
hands zake zikimove.
kuna vile na sway yake
hii ni ngori.
nikimsurprise ndakuwa mbele.

uo mshii
ananichapi kismile kibigi cha kuniwelcome,
amechill hana hype.
mse ready kuaccept hustle yake ijipe.
na turn left, side ya door.
kujitoa.

uyo muthii
wawawawa.
anaishia?
nastand up!
patkana!

uo mshii
nimemget off guard.
namkiche, anasororeka,
kwa ka forever, akahold back,

uyo muthii
anasmile, magego za white,
tongue pink inachomoks mdomo,
mboni zake zinasparkle.

uo mshii
namkiche akijifunga.
anabamba tei yake na double,
kujido yote imesepa,
mdomo open, mboni bigi,
fish inaflapflap.

uyo muthii
hata hafeel any!
anaishia.
sweat cold inabreak in pin pricks kwa uso nguyaz.
For sake ya heaven bana!
Ni mhot kuruka, kwanza kutoka manyu!

MKIMBIZO ama SIMBIKO ama PENZI PEPOmwanaume
nilimwona
kaketi kwenye kiti uvukapo sakafu
uchi wa mguu mmoja juu ya mwingine
viganja konde vimeshikilia chupa ya monde
avutia, ametulia, mrembo, wa kutekwa
“aina yangu haswa!’’
haya yatachukua mda gani?
natulia nipange mikakati kidogo.mwanamwali
nilimdadisi kikandokando
huko ukingoni mwa bar
lahaula!
mwanaume kamili gado
ngozi laini mithili maziwa
macho yalivyolegezwa
bega kubwa, miraba minne
kibeti kina hela kibao
monde, moshi mbele yake
mtu mzima wa kuendeleza kizazi changu,
natulia nipotelee kwenye haya mawazo

mwanaume
lakini, cha kipawa umbele kwanza
nachomoa pete ya dhahadu doda mfukoni
naivisha chadani
sasa nimeoa
kipusa kizazi kipya ataniokoa
hala hala kunipa uhuru
ili kunifunga tena?
sipati picha

mwanamwali
kuhisi kicheko kunanizonga, kichwani hadi moyoni
natulia nipange mikakati kidogo

mwanaume
kicheko kinanizonga, kichwani hadi kigumba mguuni
natulia nipotelee kwenye haya mawazo

mwanamwali
anakuja niliko
mtu mrefu aliyepinda kiasi nisiyemjua
mikono yake inasonga, midundo na nyimbo
mwanaume anayeamua uwepo wangu
anasita
anasimama nyuma ya kiti changu cha bar
napumua ndani, napumua nje,
kionjo cha ngozi, joto, nahisi ulimini mwangu,
naona bila kutazama

mwanaume
amepindisha mgongo wake
anainamisha kichwa chake kutazama kinywaji chake
anageuka, kushoto
macho anayafumba
miondoko ya malkia, kupoteza mda
anameza na kumaliza kinywaji chake,
mdomo mwekundu unaomeremeta unapatana na glasi
shingo lake mfano wa mbuni lameza
kioo chaonyesha macho yake yakinitazama
naonwa bila kutazamwa.

mwanamwali
macho yake yananiteka milele kwa masekunde
ananikumbatia kwa uzito
mikono yake kando,
mdomo wake mnyevunyevu unapanuka kunena

mwanaume
yuko tayari kunikana,
kuongezea ladha kwa mvutano
nampa kimya

mwanamwali
hapana, kwani umenichukulia kivipi?
kukana kwangu kunapotelea
napumua kutulia
anaondoka bila kusema lolote
kaniwacha nikitingiza kichwa
nahisi hasira sababu yakupewa mgongo.

Mwanaume
si lazima nizungumze, lakini inanilazimu
“Samahani, Kamau, kinywaji kingine!”
muuzaji anafinya jicho moja
anajua, ni wakati
kana kwamba ni sherehe, polepole na kwa ustadi,
anamwaga kinywaji kimoja

ndugu kwa ndugu sio
“iliyo na barafu?’’ anauliza,

mwanamwali
Hmmmm, anatoa kijisauti
anageuka kuondoka, anasimama
sauti yake nzito akizungumza
mjazilie mwanamwali mrembo
anaondoka
“mmmm,” muuzaji anasema

mwanaume
najua sasa analemewa kupumua
yuko tayari kunipokea
samaki anayehitaji hewa
nampa mda kiasi ajipepete mwenyewe

mwanamwali
bila kujua navuta pumzi
mafikira yametawanyika
“sawasawa huo wepesi’’
nawajibika kukubali
mmmm, wepesi ulioje

mwanaume
namwangalia akipapatika kindanindani
anang’ang’ana sana kushikilia hisia zake
simbuko imesimbuka
undani wangu unacheka

mwanamwali
naangalia chini
naficha hamu yangu
shughulika na mambo yaliyofichika
toa funguo zangu za gari toka mfukoni mwangu
naangalia rununu yangu
hamna aliyenipigia
pole pole na kwa utulivu
kumshangaza kutaniweka mbele

mwanaume
anameza kinywaji chake
anaubeba mkoba mkubwa begani mwake
anautoa mguu mrefu mwepesi toka kitini
namwangalia akija niliko
mikono kando
kuna kitu na jinsi anavyojikwatua
hii ni vita
kumshangaza kutaniweka mbele

mwanamwali
ana kicheko cha kunikaribisha
anakaa ametulia
mtu tayari kupokea zawadi yake
nageuka kushoto, kuelekea mlangoni
kuondoka

mwanaume
kumm…..
yuaenda wapi?
nasimama!
nimepatikana!

mwanamwali
amejipata mahala hakutarajia
namwona, yuaonekana
kwa mda uliokuwa kama milele, akasitasita

mwanaume
anacheka, meno meupe pe pe pe
ulimi wachungulia mdomoni mwake
macho yake yanameremeta

mwanamwali
namwangalia akijipanga
anashikilia kinywaji chake kwa viganja vyeupe
kujifanya hakupo tena
mdomo umepanuka, macho yamekodoa
samaki yuarukaruka

mwanaume
hakuna huruma!
anaendelea kutembea
jasho lepesi lanidondoka usoni
Mashallah!
Yuapendeza hata zaidi ukimtazama kutoka nyuma!


Sitawa Namwalie is a Kenyan poet, playwright, writer and performer. In 2008 she staged her first dramatised poetry show “Cut off My Tongue,” which was later published in 2009. “Cut off my Tongue” has toured several countries including, Kenya, the UK, Uganda and Rwanda. In 2010 “Cut off my Tongue” was selected by the first East African Sundance Lab. In 2011 her second show; “Homecoming” was performed in Nairobi. In 2014 she won Kenya’s Sanaa Theatre Awards for Best Spoken Word and Poetry for “Silence is a Woman”. Sitawa is based in Nairobi and works as an international consultant.

L-ness alias LIONESS aka Lydia Owano Akwabi is one of East Africa’s top female Emcees. She has performed alongside other artistes at Hip Hop Halisi, Jukwaani, WAPI, Translating Hip Hop, Afreekah Album launch, Alfajiri Album launch and the African Hip Hop Caravan shows. She released the albums Simangwe (2011), Gal Power (2012) and Punch (2013). L-ness facilitates workshops on hip hop culture, roots and traditions. She completed a documentary on the growth and development of hip hop in Nairobi alongside TUMI, a South African MC from Johannesburg.

Original Poem “The Chase” written by Sitawa Namawalie
Translation in Kiswahili and Sheng by Lydia Owano Akwabi

 

“Obi-mgbawa” and “Olileanya” by Nzube Ifechukwu

Obi-mgbawaYa bu na-eji m obo okpa m gwepia mkpuruobi gi?
Ha! Akpowara m obi gi wuputa mkpuruobi gi?
O’ na-obughi gi wupuru ya bu ola esighi ike n’uzo m,
n’ebe ahu obo okpa m kwesiri izosa?
Koro mkpuruobi gi gwepiara egwepia, ezigbo; jisie ya ike.
Oso,
Tupu onye ije ozo azokpunyekwuo ya
N’ime ime aja
Ebe o gaghi ekwezi nkoputa.
HeartbreakSo I made your heart squelch under my sole?
Ha! Did I split your chest to spill your heart?
Was it not you who flung such a frail pearl on my road,
at the very spot my suspended sole was to step?
Scoop up the pulp, dear; clasp it tightly.
Quickly,
before the next traveller tramples it
deep deep into the dune
beyond scooping.

OlileanyaOdini’hu
bu
ala obosara di ka Chi si’ kee ya
a tunyere gi na ya.
I nwere ike
naani
isuchasi ya kuo oka gi
ma
chekwube
n’onye iro agaghi ehughari
iha mkpuru iriro n’abali.
AnxietyThe future
is
a vast expanse of virgin land
you’re plunged into.
You can
only
clear and cultivate your corn
and
hope
some enemy doesn’t prowl about
to scatter tare ears at night.

mejs.audio-player

Nzube Ifechukwu was born on May 25, 1992 in Onitsha, Nigeria. He studies electrical engineering at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has been published in the Sunday Sun (Nigeria) and on Sentinel Nigeria, amongst others.

Language : Igbo
Written, & Translated by Nzube Ifechukwu

 

“Of African literature and the language and the politics of the stories” by Ikhide R. Ikheloa

“Authorial howls of artful prose as created by James Joyce, Faulkner, Nabokov, Cormac McCarthy, Shirley Hazzard, are becoming increasingly rare — sacrificed on the altar of minimalism.” – Chigozie Obioma

Many moons ago (moons!) in the throes of nostalgia and longing for the Africa I had left behind for the hell of Babylon, I wrote a piece of creative nonfiction that was chock-full of the kinds of things to expect from an African writer. There were moons, corruption and whatnot. I submitted it to a Western journal and it was accepted for publication. This is what one of the editors said in an email that I was copied on:

“I have a weakness for this kind of enthusiastic writing by people, usually African, Asian, or Caribbean, whose English is very different from the main Anglo styles.”

Another time, I wrote a long rambling piece in which I referred to Barack Hussein Obama as “the African writer and President of the United States.” The editor objected and edited the title to read: “African-descended writer and President of the United States.” I was trying to make a political point with my language. The editor modified it with his biases. I could have insisted on the original language, but I did not. Here was a prestigious Western journal offering lowly me a space to show off whatever skills I had, who was I to object? I made a few noises and moved on. If I had submitted it to a Nigerian journal, more than likely it would have been published as I wrote it – for different reasons. The term “editor” is just that – a term that describes people who do not live in Nigeria. They live in the West where they take their beady little eyes to African literature and change the words until they make sense to the Western reader and make the African reader cringe with suppressed rage. We are talking about how things get lost in the translation. Much of contemporary African literature as read in books has tended to struggle with this issue. How do you preserve authenticity of prose without losing your (paying) Western audience? It is a growing problem as my reading of EC Osondu’s This House is Not For Sale and Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen shows.

This is really not about Osondu and Obioma, they have demonstrated amply that they are awesome writers and by all appearances have had successful outings with both books. I enjoyed reading both books; however, I have great concerns about the extent to which they and many of us go to accommodate Western readers. Things get lost in the translation. There are stories. In the 21st century, there are books and there is the Internet. And housed in the Internet is social media. It is a great time to be alive, thanks to new and emerging media, the writer and the reader are united by an embarrassment of riches when it comes to storytelling. The canvas is virtually infinite and there is a new poverty of too many choices from all the offerings. It is a good thing, especially from the perspective of Africans who previously had been forced to look at their lives literally through books alone. Reading the works of today by African writers, one is struck by the power of narrative and how much it is influenced by the use or misuse of the English language to convey what was originally thought of in an African language, pidgin English or even standard English as spoken on the streets of Africa. When it comes to African literature, language is the elephant in the room, by which I mean in an unconventional sense what is gained – and lost.

I am thinking beyond Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s experiments and challenges with writing in indigenous languages, anxieties captured in his book of essays, Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature. And of course there is the spirited rebuttal by Achebe in his own essay, Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature. Egara Kabaji has a good essay on Ngugi’s approach here. Kabaji says:

I propose a new paradigm shift on the issue of language. We need to ask ourselves what the needs of the African people are rather than get fixated with colonial experience. We have to write about African experiences. We have to write in celebration of our diversity so that we can appreciate ourselves and others with which we share Africa. I am advocating for what I call ‘Critical Reconstructionism.’
This should be a new way of writing that takes cognizance of the reality of our African situation. It has to take into consideration the history of the African child and the conditions of living. Africa is a continent in a crisis. We cannot accept to remain in this crisis forever. We have to act now and the literature we write has to be the literature of reconstruction. We have to fill African peoples with hope and skills to steer society to a new level. We have to help Africans reconstruct their lives and that of their society. Our literature should advocate for dialogue and critical consciousness.

I agree with Kabaji. I applaud Ngugi’s herculean efforts on that front but I align myself with the practical attitude of the late great sage, Chinua Achebe who observes that:

Theatricalities aside, the difference between Ngũgĩ and myself on the issue of indigenous or European languages for African writers is that while Ngũgĩ now believes it is either/or, I have always thought it was both.
Achebe, Chinua (2009-10-05). The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays (p. 97). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Interestingly enough, in my mind, in their works, Achebe and Ngugi proved that one could take the English Language and appropriate it for oneself and write with it as if one was writing in one’s indigenous language. Read Achebe’s books, especially Things Fall Apart, Arrrow of God, No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People; the beauty of Achebe’s novels is in how he took the English Language and fooled the reader into thinking that the characters are speaking Igbo. Reading Things Fall Apart especially, the reader would be forgiven for thinking that Achebe was writing in Igbo. The man was a genius. Achebe’s approach was brilliant on many levels; economically, trying to sell a novel in the language of my ancestors would be a huge challenge. Not many people would buy it because many of my people speak the language but can neither read nor write it. Besides, there is not much of a market for works of fiction written in my language. That is the least of our challenges. Achebe and his generation of writers brilliantly sidestepped that challenge by being creative with the use of the English language. They appropriated the English language and made it uniquely their own. That is how it should be.

Generations of African writers after Achebe have struggled to match his brilliance. There are economic reasons for this; the indigenous publishing house and editors that supported Achebe and Ngugi have virtually disappeared, leaving a huge vacuum that has been filled with mixed results by Western publishers and their editors. In the absence of a robust publishing industry at home and thanks to largely incurious and anti-intellectual rulers, African writers have been forced to flood the West with their manuscripts. The West deserves credit for almost single-handedly sustaining African literature with funding and an eager paying readership. However, it has come at a cost on at least one important level; many African writers eager to be published and salivating at prestigious literary platforms have largely allowed the West to distort the literary language in their books. It is almost understandable, these writers are not negotiating from a position of strength, so they watch helplessly as words and terms that make sense in African settings are jury-rigged for Western tastes by Western editors whose awesome editorial skills are hugely compromised by their cultural cluelessness. As an aside, I really believe now that Western editors need to collaborate with the few African editors out there as they prepare African literature for the print shop. The Western reader enjoys the new language of discourse but it is painful to read as an African. So much in contemporary fiction in the books published in the West has been distorted for the simple reason that there is a buying audience that needs to understand these things. It is an economic decision but the implications for Africa and the trajectory of her stories are enormous and mostly tragic.

In these works of fiction, we see the unintended consequence of Western patronage of African writing – a crippling loss of language. And a muffling of powerful voices drowned in the alien applause of an adoring Western audience. It is not all bad, there is some hope; the advent of a robust literary culture on the Internet and on social media has amplified this issue; the democratization of story-telling in the digital space has allowed an emerging generation of writers to just be themselves – to simply write in their own “African English” language. Sadly, to the extent that African literature is judged almost exclusively by books published in the West, it is appropriate to address the distortion in language – and trajectory of the narrative, because the gatekeepers of African literature continue to ignore the fact that the vast majority of African writing today is on the Internet.

Osondu’s book is a work of fiction that educates and entertains the reader with interesting experiments in story-telling laced with historical accounts of a bygone era. I enjoyed reading the book; the stories are garnished with witty observations from the eyes of a child living in a house (called “Family House”) filled with interesting characters, characters that could only have been conjured up by a mind on steroids. I recommend it to the reader dying for good fiction. The blog Africa is a Country has a good review of it here.

There are many things to like in the book – from the editing, to the meticulous research, to the disciplined, short sentences that showcase Osondu as a writer in charge of his craft. Osondu deploys an unusual but ultimately effective approach to writing this book that draws primarily on his strengths as a writer of short stories; there are all these fascinating characters. Osondu maintains a disciplined focus on the characters that live in this fascinating house called “Family House”, a not-so-mute witness to life, dishing out opinions through its many characters that live in her. As an experiment in writing out of the box of orthodoxy, Osondu pulled that off nicely. But then This House is not For Sale is written with a broad Western audience in mind; Nigerian words are italicized and carefully explained in the same or preceding sentence. African writers should perhaps learn to be more insular, who italicizes akara and explains it as “bean cake” in the 21st century? If the reader is too lazy to use Google, I say, tough luck.

To be fair, after all these years of railing at African writers, I now realize that African writers who choose to publish in the West are not negotiating from a position of strength; the editor is Western, the publishing company is Western and the paying audience is Western. It makes marketing sense. However, it doesn’t make it any less maddening. Imagine if Tolstoy in War and Peace had taken the time to italicize and explain every word foreign to the African reader. That book would have been way more than 50,000 pages. In the writers’ defense, Nigeria has precious few indigenous publishing houses, what is a writer to do? You want to be published? Take the crap from the Western paymasters.

Osondu’s book could have used an indigenous editor or collaboration with one; in a few chapters, the over-editing by the Western editor muffled the boom and passion of Osondu’s powerful voice. The attempt to sell the book to the West was relentless, and readers, young readers especially now used to the raw indigenous attitude of writing on the Internet and social media would look askance at parts of the writing. It bears repeating: For Achebe, it was a simple trick; appropriate the English Language as if it were your own and tell your story. We need bold writing like that. Achebe’s editors amplified his voice, at least in his early works. Osondu needed a powerful editor who gets the power of his narrative and the need for the English Language to bend to the will of the story. Aatish Taseer, writing in the New York Times (March 22, 2015) seems to speak to the frustrations of writing to, for, and through the West:

Growing up in Delhi in the 1980s, I spoke Hindi and Urdu, but had to self-consciously relearn them as an adult. Many of my background didn’t bother.
This meant that it was not really possible for writers like myself to pursue a serious career in an Indian language. We were forced instead to make a roundabout journey back to India. We could write about our country, but we always had to keep an eye out for what worked in the West. It is a shameful experience; it produces feelings of irrelevance and inauthenticity. V. S. Naipaul called it “the riddle of the two civilizations.” He felt it stood in the way of “identity and strength and intellectual growth.”

Keeping the reader entertained with a book in the age of the addiction called social media is an amazing feat in itself and Osondu passed that test with me. However, the reader is also facing personal challenges; social media is the new addiction that comes in short posts and grunts in tweets. Reading long form is now the new distraction. The intensity of feeling, the rush that comes with the instant feedback and contact with the reader and writer and the reader becoming a writer also (reader and writer exchanging roles).

If Osondu’s book suffers from the misappropriation of the English language, Obioma’s The Fishermen has a viral version of the affliction. Let me just get this out there, The Fishermen is a must read for everyone, for many reasons, not all of them good, but that would be the burden of scholars for decades to come – unpacking all the book portends. Habila has a good review of Obioma’s The Fishermen here. Read the book; it is engaging for the right reasons and for the wrong reasons, and once you put it down, you begin to ask yourself several hard questions, your thoughts flit from what Obioma must have seen as a child and what Nigeria must be like to live in (horrible, according to the book), to patriarchy (hellish) and you muse about the status of contemporary African literature as seen in books (tethered to the apron strings of the West, firmly in the hands of Western gatekeepers and editors many of whom are well-meaning but clueless as in culturally incompetent. As I read the book and struggled through the dialogue as a Nigerian, I kept asking myself, “Who talks like this in Nigeria?”

Like most novels by Africans published in the West, this book is squarely aimed at the West for the benefit of her reading audience. It is not a novel for Nigerians; it is a story about Nigeria sold to the West. The dialogue has been modified and outfitted to make sure Westerners understand what is going on; distinctively Nigerian terms are helpfully italicized and explained. Here, dodo is “fried plantains” you are told. It is a frustrating book if you are a Nigerian and you know that you are reading the work of a brilliant mind who has had to compromise heavily in order to sell his work where the paying audience is. I do not blame him. There was a time I used to blame African writers for what I saw as a compromise or a selling out but what are their choices? There is no paying audience back home. It doesn’t make it right, it is what it is.

The Fishermen is bipolar on many levels. When it is brilliant it is brilliant. When it is bad it is just bad. This book houses some of the best prose – and some of the worst prose and dialogue that I have ever set my eyes on. All through, the language problem haunts Obioma. Hear him:

English, although the official language of Nigeria, was a formal language with which strangers and non-relatives addressed you. It had the potency of digging craters between you and your friends or relatives if one of you switched to using it. So, our parents hardly spoke English, except in moments like this, when the words were intended to pull the ground from beneath our feet. Our parents were adept at this, and so Mother succeeded. For, the words “drowned,” “everything,” “exist,” “dangerous” came out heavy, measured, charged and indicting, and lingered and tormented us long into the night. – Obioma, Chigozie (2015-04-14). The Fishermen: A Novel (p. 24). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

And this:

Our parents often found the need to explain such expressions containing concealed meanings because we sometimes took them literally, but it was the way they learned to speak; the way our language— Igbo— was structured. For although the vocabulary for literal construction for cautionary expressions such as “be careful” was available, they said “Jiri eze gi ghuo onu gi onu— Count your teeth with your tongue.” To which, once, while scolding Obembe for a wrong act, Father had burst out laughing when he saw Obembe moving his tongue over the ridge of his mouth, his cheeks furrowed, saliva drooling down his jaws as he attempted to take a census of his dentition. (pp. 39-40).

Just as in Osondu’s book, Obioma is sensitive to the palate and tastes of Western readers. Indigenous Nigerian terms are meticulously italicized as if to showcase their otherness – and promptly explained in parenthesis. Dodo is (fried plantains)! And this African reader almost stopped reading the book upon coming face to face with this howler that describes beans:

I recall one Sunday afternoon when Iya Iyabo came in while we were eating black-eyed peas marinated in palm-oil sauce. (p. 106)

The lowly dish of beans has now become “black-eyed peas marinated in palm-oil sauce.” As if this was not bad enough, on top of this, the pidgin English in the book was modified and bastardized presumably to ensure comprehension by foreigners:

“Her pikin, Onyiladun, dey sick. As her husband come inside, she tell am make im give medicine money, but im start to beat-beat am and im pikin.” “Chi-neke!” Mother gasped, and covered her mouth with her hands. “Bee ni— it is so,” Iya Iyabo said. “Aderonke vex say im dey beat the sick pikin, and fear say because of im alcohol, say im go kill am, so she hit im husband with a chair.” (p. 107)

I am still laughing. We don’t talk like this. No. Several years ago, my essay, The Balance of Our Stories, addressed the distortion of African stories through these dysfunctions. In that essay, I singled out Chris Abani as a culprit in using Conradian optics to analyze Nigeria. This is unfortunate: Pidgin English is in my view a robust language all by itself; it is powerful vehicle of discourse, properly spoken and written it exudes dignity and humor. The unintended consequence of its bastardization is to make the character look less than human, a situation Achebe decried in his seminal essay on Conrad. Hear Achebe roar:

[P]erhaps the most significant difference is the one implied in the author’s bestowal of human expression to the one and the withholding of it from the other. It is clearly not part of Conrad’s purpose to confer language on the “rudimentary souls” of Africa. In place of speech they made “a violent babble of uncouth sounds.” They “exchanged short grunting phrases” even among themselves. But most of the time they were too busy with their frenzy. There are two occasions in the book, however, when Conrad departs somewhat from his practice and confers speech, even English speech, on the savages. The first occurs when cannibalism gets the better of them:
“Catch ‘im,” he snapped with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth — “catch ‘im. Give ‘im to us.” “To you, eh?” I asked; “what would you do with them? “Eat ‘im!” he said curtly. . . .
The other occasion was the famous announcement:”Mistah Kurtz — he dead.”
At first sight these instances might be mistaken for unexpected acts of generosity from Conrad. In reality they constitute some of his best assaults. In the case of the cannibals the incomprehensible grunts that had thus far served them for speech suddenly proved inadequate for Conrad’s purpose of letting the European glimpse the unspeakable craving in their hearts. (Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’” Massachusetts Review. 18. 1977)

Jola Naibi’s Terra Cotta Beauty (see my review here) takes a different, more courageous, perhaps practical approach but still suffers the same indignities as I mention:

Naibi deploys impeccable Pidgin English which she promptly italicizes and explains with standard English. I really hate that she does this.
“Wetin dey do you now? (“What is wrong with you?”), his companion spat at him. “You just dey do like person wen don lose im mama, you no hear de tin wey Ol’Boy talk—im say mission accomplished! So why you dey slack now?” (“What’s wrong with you?” “You are acting like someone who has lost his mother. You heard what Ol’Boi said—-mission accomplished! Why are you slacking?”) (p 93)
Again, I don’t like that Naibi italicizes the Pidgin English, and then helpfully translates it, presumably, to Western readers. It is what it is but I prefer this approach to the bastardization of pidgin preferred by Nigerian writers who write primarily for the West’s consumption. A lot is lost in the unnecessary translation. It is perhaps true that the paying audience is in the West and the writer is under a lot of pressure to get as wide an audience as possible, but there are unintended consequences. The writers of the West gained traction in other climes by being relentlessly insular even before the advent of Google. That insularity bred a nagging curiosity in readers. It is counter-intuitive but I suggest strongly that African writers need to find the muscle to be insular, to force Western readers to be curious enough to want to learn about African communities by getting off their duff and doing the research themselves. But then, we are not negotiating from a position of strength. They have the money and the publishing houses. This is why I love Facebook and Twitter; you can’t italicize egusi over there. At least not yet.

It is not all gloom and doom. We must acknowledge however the brilliant work of an emerging army of writers and thinkers acting as leaders, who have been doing awesome work in the digital space. I am thinking of young unsung writers who have been forcing conversations about African literature and/or creating innovative platforms digitally. It bears repeating; there is a robust body of literature out there on the Internet. There we do not feel the need to italicize ugali or egusi, and provide long apologetic footnotes, Google is your friend. One of the unintended effects of forcing our stories through Western eyes has been to italicize us into the other. On the Internet, African writers don’t have to. And that is one reason the Internet is the book of choice for millions of African readers. If we could only find a way of making it profitable for great minds like Osondu and Obioma, we would all be happy. By the way, it would be revealing to see what is in the literature/English curriculum in classrooms in Africa from secondary to university. What and how are we teaching our young? If we were to do a survey, what authors would appear in the curriculum? What is the nature of the graduate research, is it still steeped in the Achebe/Ngugi/Soyinka mindset? What are the examples of innovation we can brag about? Let’s model what we demand of the West.

Yes, there is hope. The deployment of language is very much on the minds of young writers of contemporary African fiction. Pemi Aguda, the winner of the 2015 Writivism Prize in Uganda when asked about the use of language had this to say:

It is how we speak in Lagos, isn’t it? It’s English but not English – scrambled, if you will, with a sprinkling of Pidgin. Everyone I know relapses to this Nigerian English in every other sentence. It’s how we say “I’m coming” when we are going – to mean “I’ll be right back.” It’s in the way we say “they say…” when we are gossiping. I wanted the narrative to be as informal and flow-y as possible in a “come-and-see-what-happened-to-me-yesterday” way when you’re talking to a friend. But also in an introspective way, so that the narrator is working through how she feels about things as she tells you.

I agree 100 percent. Aguda gets it, but she should not look to be a star writer adored in the West anytime soon.

The issue of language and its politics in literature is clearly on Obioma’s mind and he delivers a feisty defense of experimentation in this interview and in his essay, The audacity of prose. It is a brilliant essay, it does appear though that Obioma is being defensive about the poetic license he deploys in The Fishermen. It was an audacious initiative but was he successful? By all standards, he has written a good book, but from the perspective of this African reader, the audacity does not advance African literature one whit. Rather it seems to create space in a spectacular and muscular fashion for a genre that is devoted entirely to satisfying Western literary tastes. In some instances, it is at the (unintended) expense of Africans. Well, in Obioma’s defense, he did not refer to the Nigerian game of football as soccer in the book. He did not italicize it either. Taboo is taboo. We are making progress.


Ikhide R. Ikheloa (@ikhide) is a blogger, social and literary critic who writes non-stop on various online media. His work has been published in several books, journals and online magazines. He offers his unsolicited opinions on literature and world affairs in various columns in the Next Newspapers and The Daily Times of Nigeria. You will find him blogging about politics and literature at http://xokigbo.wordpress.com.

 

“Masira Mar Sero Jajuok” by Richard Oduor Oduku

Piny ombachni wuod otong’ nam. Meda chang’aa matin apimni mbakani. Min Apiyo, med patila ka! Ngima chuok, wuod ma, we acham lweti kawuono.

Chieng’ moro wawuok wadhi e thum. Ne podi watindo to rembwa liet. Piny oselil to wakaso siandawa ni ngolo nyaka wamiel. Wawuok e dala. Koth chwe ka Saitan to waketore ni wuoth ka osechakore onge duogo chien. Wadhi to koth gowa. Wadhi to koth gowa. Wadhi to koth gowa. Omera koth nogowa ka niang’. Ogowa alanda. Wachopo thum ka dendwa ng’ich ka um guok.

Wayudo ka mine oumore gi leso, nindo e par mopedh e agola. Jodongo toluoro magenga oyo mach to bulo gwen. Oseke ok wuog e dhok. Nitie disco ka. Omega One. Spike muocho polo piach. Nyiri ndeso ndes Kisumo.

En dala maduong’. Wapenjo dayo ni ng’ama yamo olalo. Onyisowa ni wuoyi siro, Ochieng Soja, wuoyi achiel kende, wuoyi ma ong’eyo ii min, telo oganda piny, Ochieng wuod NyaSakwa, ema onindo. Ywak ne lich dalano Omera, chalo mana ywak mane waywago Jaramogi.

Aneno nyako moro ka miel e taya. Otoyo kona ni aluonge. Ok awuok, an Odhis wuoyi ma silwal, wuoyi ma dhoge wembe. Thum opong’ ka odundu e aora. Dunia Mbaya lich, Princess Jully nego dendwa ka. Nungo winyre to yawuoyi kuoto chang’aa ka pi. Ich nyasore kende oumo dala iwe ni ong’weng’o.

Adhi e taya kama miel otime cathedral mondo aluong nyakono. Orwako skirt machiek gi tumbo cut. Aluonge to ok otamre, kata moro matin mar wuondruok cha. Obiro abira. Ing’e ni mano ne podi ok aneno wang’e maber. Omera we anyisi wachni kawuono. Nyako mararacha ohero kisera. Okunda e mudho gi miel to kata ng’ama lounge podi ok atere. Nera ne puonjowa chon ni kama itiye ema ichieme. Jagam mayi nyako kata obed osiepni ma ngita gi del. Rach to orach ayie, ok atamra, lakini kaka owinyo nungo Omera kata in ok inyal weye.

Apenje ni wadhi kose ok wadhi to wang’e mil ka paka e mudho. Rabuon ema obang’o ka aidha. Rabuon ibang’o otieno yawa? An Odhis kawuono adiwo, ayudo nyako mopong’ to kia mbaka. Pinyni agonda Omera, kata bim kia ni piere kwar. An aol kode. Anyiso Otoyo ni nyakono wiye ng’ich ka chumb otanda. Otoyo ok yie koda. Owachona ni aketora ni an wuoyi ma silwal, wuoyi ma dhoge wembe to sero nyako otama. Awachone ni kata nyako mararacha ok yie ayieya.

Ndalogo ne waketore ni wan e wan. Ne onge ng’ama nyalo tugo kodwa. Nyingwa ne en tulo to tulo ne en nyingwa. Opanga ‘Nike’ ne ok wuog e kabuti. Chieng’no ne waromogo wuod ma. Rabondo wacho ni oliele to kata gima ilielo onge. Chieng’no ne wang’eyo ni liedo en ang’o.

Wayudo Jaduong’ matar ka aguch abagi kawero ‘Obiero Jalego’ e agola. Mano nyatiti machon mar Ogwang’ Lelo. Isewinjo nyatitino? Ogwang’ Lelo wero kaka Obiero Jalego ne obiro nyorobi. Obiero jathum owuok Ukwala biro nyorobi, otiko to siling apari gariyo kende. Ndalogo kata nyamburko ne onge. Jopango ne iidho gari mowuok Uganda. Mano e kaka piny oselokore. Ndalogo ne podi ok onyuoli. Jarachar ne podi pielo e wiwa. Kidwa ng’eyo luo kitgi gi timbegi to winj nyatiti wuod ma. Winj Oguta Lie Bobo komako onanda to dendo wer.

Jaduong’ oketo chupa chang’aa e atonga moro matin e bathe. Atonga jaduong’ ok bed nono. Odino wii chupa fanta gi ogusu. Otoyo lung’ore to ywayo chupa. Wayuomo chang’aa. Kara wakia ni wang’wenyo pier pino. Jaduong’ maneno ka ng’ama olalni kara e wuon dala.

Omera meda kong’o atiekni mbakani. Ka podi ok walung’o kata kong’ono, waneno ka yawuoyi luorowa. Anyiso Otoyo ni weche tek ka. Ging’eny makata sword ok inyal golo.

Bul ok go gi lwedo achiel. Wan ji ariyo to jogi piny ngima, Otoyo nyisa.

Aduoke ni, obwolo kotwi ok dog e lowo.

Omera ne wawuok dalano aputh njiri! Yawuoyi goyo nduru e tokwa gi tonge maboyo ka Lwanda Magere. Yo rach to tho ok rit. Waringo ka mwanda miriembo gi jodwar. Piny olil to kuthe tucho tiendewa ka kuth tworo Kibos.

Ayuago mana mama, lit ma adhi ketee NyaGem Koremo. NyaGem miyo matek orito dalane gi lwedo ariyo. Kawuono ero wuodi Odhis inego e thim ka aidha nikech chupa chang’aa. Omera ne waringo. Waringo. Waringo. Jalang’o iduoko chien. Ne waringo. Jogo ne oketowa gi ng’wech ma podi ok aneno ngimana tetete. To ne ging’eny. Omera ne ging’eny. Giriembowa to giyuak ka guogi e tokwa. Giriembowa to giyuak ka guogi e tokwa. Chieng’no ema ang’eye ni onge kama tielo ok kal. Tho koliero e wiyi, kata mach ikalee gi siandani nono.

Anyiso Otoyo ni sani ok wanyal kalo e daraja Nzoia. Jogo nyalo loronwa. Anyise ni nitie yo machuok marumo e aora. Wago kona walal e odundu, ka jogo osedok to wamany yie wakalgo aora.

Hawi maber wayudo yiedhi mang’eny e wath. Wagonyo achiel to wadonje. En yie maber, kore ondik ni TANG’ GI JAGAM. Ngai pek otieno Omera, wakwang’ mos mos. Jok mane riembowa koro ok winjre, chunywa chako duogo.

Kawuono wanyono wii thuol thura, anyiso Otoyo.

Ka wachopo e dier aora to bungu luorowa. Magi masira mage kendo wuod NyaGem? Bungu wuok kanye e wi aora yawa jothurwa! Kaka yie medo dhi e kaka bungu umowa gi mudho. Luoro nega. Awinjo ka denda tho kalandhidhi. Ma masira mane. Otoyo osiepa to nindo otero e yie ka.

Uuuuuwi!

Owinja ka agoyo uuuwi eka ochiew e wi ayula ka apuoyo e thim.

Jajuok negowa Otoyo to nindo oteri?

Odhis itero yieni kanye? Ikela e dier odundu?

Hawi maber bungu lal.

En ang’o matimre ka Odhis, Otoyo penjo.

Ka podi ok aduoke mbi mar Jajuok oumowa. Mbi ogoya matek ma wapodho e yie. Ngai mara onimo. Siandawa liet ka pas. Wadiewo e longe ka nyithindo mochamo maembe dodo manum. Kawuono jalni negowa e pi ka. Yie oum gi bungu kata polo ok ine. Yiewa ridore to ok wang’ee kama ochiko kodwa. Wanindo gi iiyewa e yie. Piny kende mudho ma ti.
Yie chung’. Kalokora tayudo ni yie ochopo e dho wath. Bungu bende olal. Wawuok e yie to tiendewa pek ka kidi. Anyiso Otoyo ni waring walal ka Jajuok podi ok oduogo. Ka wachako yoro thidhnia to mbi moro gowa matek. Ka wang’iyo malo, Omera! Kawuono we apimni wachni maber.

Omera dhakono ne duong’. Dhakono ne duong’. Ochung’ mbelewa. Tiende rom gi kor maembe. Wiye kende chalo yago, to dinge okuot ka ding ongwang kuoro ma kich okayo e mapera. Siandane to othichore. Kang’iye tochalona mana nyako mane otamo wang’a e thum. Tobedo maduong’ nade? An Odhis wuod NyaGem, wuoyi ma silwal, wuoyi ma dhoge wembe, yawa, kawuono kisera otera mana e Jajuok?

Omako lwetewa. Wachalo nyithindo matindo e nyime. Opielowa e chuodho. Omera mon nitie pinyni ma jomahundu. Dhakono ne ong’adowa boka rao seriously. Heheheee kata NyaGem minwa ne ok ochwada kamano katin.

Tula yuak piny ru to wanindo gi iiwa e chwodho aora Nzoia. Dendwa lit nyaka chogo. Boka ong’adowa nyowuoyo nikech manyo Patco e thum. Wiya ok nowil gi masirano.

*

Min Apiyo medna wuod NyaGem patila.

Idwanega wuod otong’ nam? Chang’aa ok en vitamins.


Story in Dholuo
English translation “Tribulations of Seducing a Night Runner” by Richard Oduor Oduku


Richard Oduor Oduku (@RichieMaccs) en janonro kendo jagoro maduong’. Osomo Biomedical Science and Technology e mbalariany mar Egerton. Sani otiyo Nairobi. En achiel kuom jogo mane ochako Jalada Africa gi Hisia Zangu. Osegoro ni Kwani? Jalada Africa, Saraba Magazine, Storymoja, gi mamoko. Seche moko ogolo pache e weche manyien e oboke mar Star Kenya.

 

“eNGAGEMENT” by Richard Oduor Oduku

Tika sat on a rickety folding chair by the window and looked down Woodvale Grove. Couples walked hand-in-hand, talking, giggling. Once in a while, their thin foils of public modesty were pierced and sharp carefree laughter rent the air. Hugs. Kisses. He strained his ears to pick words from their converses but the soft wind turned words into murmurs and swept them away. Still, he watched, wishing, longing. A pop directed his eyes to the MacBook Air. He smiled at the tenderness of the chat message, tapped onto the keyboard and sent a data packet of winking happy smileys across the Egyptian revolution and cinders of crumbling European economies to a chattel on the plaid plains of Sundsvall.

Annalina tiptoed from the bathroom, leaving a wake of scented droplets on the marble floor. She pushed a strand of hair from her eyes and scrolled to read the message, then typed and sent a parcel of love across the Sahara desert, trailing the eternal snarl of R. Nile, avoiding encounters with Janjaweed, navigating envious stares from South Sudanese beauties, sketching the bleak and burnt out shores of Lake Turkana, on to a chilly Nairobi evening. The parcel announced its arrival with a pop. A swig of Coca Cola cleared Tika’s potato’ed mouth. He typed:

“Nothing much really. Nairobi is breezy. How is Sundsvall?”

“Expectant. The party mood is infectious. I have to go now sweetheart. XOXO!”

Tika eased off his pants and grabbed his pyjama. He needed to sleep early to wake up early enough to communicate with clients in America in the morning. As an E-Ticketing Agent with Safari Tourist Travels, his job was to assist clients get the most flexible and affordable return air tickets to Nairobi and the greater East Africa region. But before going to bed, he had a Mission to complete. The Grand Theft Auto was on PAUSE. He clicked START.

A car screeched to a halt.

Shoot that mothafucker, Soddy
I said blow his sodden brains off!
Take him out!

The sound of metal against metal and gunshots ripped his bedroom. Police sirens tailed the ensuing silence in a cortege of curses. Tika sweated behind the wheel at 200 miles on the freeway. The squeal of tires as he wrestled the wheel could be heard in the adjacent apartment. The police sirens got louder and louder. Above him, a nasty chopper fixed his car on the firing radius and released a volley of bullets. He stepped on the brakes, disengaged and ran into an alley to evade the incoming fire. But a precision guided missile from the chopper found his car anyway, as did Kalashnikov fire from cops on his trail.

BOOM!
MISSION FAILED
WASTED!

Silence. Tika exited the game and shut down his console, angry at the growing pile of Mission Fails. He clicked on the new message, read, and typed:

“Have fun! XOXO”

Annalina was an American of Swedish descent. Three decades before, her father had deserted Sundsvall for the greens of opportunity in America. But Annalina was not in Sundsvall to trace her lineage. She was 20, hot and bubbly, and the heavy metal autumn had called. The Nordfest! It would be heaven!

Tika and Annalina first met on Facebook, on a White House ‘Picture of the Day’ comment thread. He liked her name – with its sole vowel easy on the tongue; he shuffled through her pictures and liked her body as well. He hit the Friend Request button. They began talking. She was bisexual with a fetish for veiled but rebellious English-speaking Muslim women and charcoal black men whom she considered the last of a dying breed of real men. Tika was modest with the nether details. He told her he loved women more than he loved himself or his neighbours. He told her he entertained no form of discrimination, especially when it came to sex. “Like bodies repel, unlike bodies attract.”He depended on the laws of electrostatics to understand sexuality.

Tika woke up to a blinding light. His watch read 10:24 AM. Unfashionably late. He yawned, jumped out of bed and made a mental note to attend a Twitter demonstration against the thieving elites later in the day. He grabbed his iPhone and SMS’d ‘LOVE’ to 2424. Three minutes later the radio presenter introduced him to a mellow voiced girl, somewhere in Nakuru, who said she was ‘as soft as a calf’s nose’ – whatever that meant. Millions of listeners moved their ears to the radios, in matatus, kiosks, and stalls to listen to Tika’s wooing. He lit her interests phrase by phrase, chuckle by chuckle, with a knowing wit that brightened her morning.

“Grant me the pleasure of meeting you today, in the evening,” she said.

“It would be an insult if I refused,” Tika replied.

“I can’t wait to see you,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see you,” he said.

In the studio, the radio presenters exchanged a knowing glance. Tika said Yes because there was no incentive to say No. Dating in Nairobi was that simple. Walking out of the Java Coffee House that evening, Tika was pissed that ‘as soft as a calf’s nose’ had turned out to be the biggest hoax in the history of dating. ‘As wrinkled as a black rhino’s nose’ was much closer to the truth. Such dates satisfied the hunger for human contact lacking between him and Annalina, and between him and Adisia. Toxic was waiting just across the street. He waved.

A group of young Americans passed a murmur away, weighed down by huge bags – a breed from a culture of excess. A beggar extended an arm in the direction of the whites. They ignored him. They too had learnt the art of indifference.

“That’s an insanely huge bag for such a matchstick-type woman!” Toxic said, laughing.

Toxic lived on the windward side of the city. They walked towards Pangani cursing the sundown drizzle, past the old barber with an odd sense of humour and his octogenarian clients, past a bevy of slender young men with yellow jeans, low-soled sneakers and hugging V-necked tees. They walked past the virginal mannequins in trendy see-throughs.

“Captivatingly sexy inanimate objects,” Toxic said and laughed again.

Annalina! Did he love her? Tika recalled how his heart had once danced in the village. Back in the day when it was just him and Adisia. Fast, primitive love. All that was lost now. In its kennel lay an effigy of what it once felt to be strung to another.

Did he love her? True, the virtual sex, as bots creaked and crawled billions of miles to relay throbs of excitement, was heavenly. He thought of Adisia – a strand of beauty wholeheartedly nurtured. The trees had waved jubilantly, happy that they were happy. The carousing troupe of weaverbirds had sealed their beaks on hearing their giggles. Tika recalled when they sat by the granary sifting weevils between their fingers, how happy they looked. Even his old dog, Saddam, seemed happy for them. It had waved its tail with glee and licked Adisia’s knees. Adisia had been the first and the last, thought Tika. She was the only one with whom he had drunk from the gourd of love. A gourd that had since broken and decomposed in the soft earth called growing up. What remained from that era of earnestness were disjointed fragments. He had lost himself and found himself, lost.

“It’s been two years sweetheart. And my skin hasn’t touched another, since.”

He’d woken up to Annalina’s message.

“I’ve also been a faithful man here, Annalina. I have been chaste.”

It is a man’s nature to lie when truth may not be wholesomely appreciated.

“I’ve kept myself for you Tika, ever since I knew where my heart sat. Marry me. Pleeease! I know it sounds strange for me to propose but fuckit Tika! Marry me.”

She had continued,“I’m drunk! I know. Why lie plus Scotch is the game here haha … Even if I don’t make you babies, I know how to cook. I can live in Africa with all the wild animals and bushes. I love lions, you remember the Tsavo pictures you sent me and the fichu? Effin beasts + I can dedicate my life to helping the dying children. Please, will you?”

A snake of anger crossed Tika’s eyes and escaped upwards in small ripples across his brows. Then she added:“I could make you babies but … my shape, I don’t want to loooose it. I’ve always wanted to be tiiiight forever.”

Tika wondered if Adisia would think the same. Words almost escaped his fingers poised over the keyboard.

The creaky staircase to Toxic’s habitat demanded a delicate balancing act. It was damp and slippery. A misstep and one could fall and roll to the hard slab below, twisted, deformed and possibly dead. Toxic inserted a key into the dark hole of a half-kilogram padlock he had inherited from his mother. They walked in. Toxic crushed the dry leaves, rolled, and lit another round.

“Hey T, do you think you want grass?” Toxic inquired.

His nose blew huge rolls of smoke that hissed and circled on their way to the impenetrable ceiling. The smoke rolled back sluggishly and formed nimbus clouds in front of theTV.

“A spliff a day keeps the doctor away,” Tika jibed.

“A friend with weed is a friend in deed,” Toxic added and passed the roll to fulfil this idiomatic oath.

Tika’s puff created nimbus clouds of his own. They hung directly in front of his eyes. He swatted them with his bare hands. They went to the curtains.

“T, what do you think of that girl?”

“Which one?”

“That brown pumpkin that was with Biggie at Club Caesarean.”

“Can’t really remember. What about her?”

“I think I want her. I think she’s really nice.”

Tika raised an eyebrow, threw the stump of weed-stick to the floor and habitually crushed it with the heel of his shoe.

“Sure, no biggie! I could get myself the red one who sits at the counter.”

Zoned, they exited the apartment. The dark sidewalks spotted street lamps colonized by moths. Tika was tired to his bones. He literally limped to the bus station. Toxic walked beside him lost in his world. Two street boys sparred a few meters ahead of them. The shorter one, with aged skill, chopped his opponents’ nose with an upper-cut. The crowd beerily cheered on. Even Toxic agreed that the jab was spectacular. But the fight stopped abruptly and the kids hobbled to opposite directions. In slow, swollen steps, the crowd dissipated. The streets became naked again, empty and noiseless.

Tika walked on and did not notice Toxic slinking to his quenching hole. But he understood. Toxic was the tightest campus mate he ever had. He was still unsure how he should drag him from the mess he’d gotten himself into. That was a thought for another day, now he had his own life to think about.

“Can we be together again?” Adisia had asked when they last talked. He recalled how companioned silence had connected their distant memories. They both retreated to the past. It was as if the line had gone dead, but he could hear her soft breathing on the other end of the line waiting for him. He said nothing.

“Anyway, I received my admission letter. I’m going to study Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Nairobi. Intake is September. I know I should be happy about this but I wish the thing between us was stronger. I’ve never been with anyone else,” she went on, “but I had no way of getting to you. I only got your number from your sister recently. Are you employed now?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Make that future worth living, Tika. There are dreams waiting for us to decide whether we’ll ever come back to each other.”

Can we be together? Tika knew this was one of those nights when all he needed was silence. He lay on the bed and counted illusory twinkles on the ceiling. He wanted to make a mindless phone call to ‘as soft as a calf’s nose’ just to jerk her ego but thought better of it – that would be like rubbing pee-soaked pumice stone on a wound. A haunting odour of loneliness clung to him.Well in an hour he’d call Annalina and drink from her spring of love, her joy in life and belief in the impossible. She was a fairy, a genie from a faraway land, a dream he could always grasp in snatches and relive. He drowned in the wait. One hour. But his eyes closed and his focus became blurry. Darkness engulfed him, warm and cuddly against his frame. The silent voices of introspection that had occupied the room before were replaced by snores. Without sleep, all men would rot on their feet.


The stage was all set. Copper wires climbed the sparsely decorated wall, duct-taped at intervals and seeming like hugging tendrils unable to control their thirst for the sun. Up they went and escaped via tiny holes into the darkness past the ceiling, emerging beneath a satellite dish facing the city. Where the copper wires had originated, another set navigated the intersection between the wall and floor then rose and clung onto the rear of a laptop.

The room was silent and cushioned from the tattle of a high speed photocopier in the adjacent office. There were three other people in the rectangular windowless room. A boardroom demeanour on their faces. It was true Tika’s mama could not understand what was going on. She was unsure of what was to unfold before her eyes. Tika’s father had stopped trying to understand. As for the Pastor, he was happy to be a witness, an intercessor – a god among men.

Three feet from where Tika’s mama stood was a blank LCD screen powered down from the ceiling. The screen seemed apprehensive, waiting for the signal to speak to the trapezoidal table where Tika fidgeted with TV, Projector, and PolyCom remotes. All four people were well within the camera’s vision. The lighting was sombrely tuned. The furnishing was that of a cockpit without consoles. All were sweating.

This was the best Single-Point Video Conferencing room that one could set up with the right amount of money and brains. Fabric panelling on the wall and acoustic perforated tiles deadened the pitch of the Pastor’s voice. Tika’s eyes circled the room, looking for missing connections before signalling the giant projection screen to life. He was proud of what he had done. Two VGA Projector Inputs hung at the far end of the table. He fixed them and switched on the light control and the projection screen switches. White light directed four peering eyes to the LCD screen projected on the wall.

Marry me. He had said Yes to Annalina because there was no incentive to say No. He loved her. She loved him. That was all. He wanted a wedding, but not a traditional wedding. Hidden in the midst of tens of icons on the desktop was a shortcut to eNGAGEMENT, a virtualization software. Tika started the program and Logged In. He was directed to eNGAGEMENT.COM – the virtual space that created virtual wedding videos and streamed them. For Tika, eNGAGEMENT was like any other video game, only the characters were him and Annalina and the game was their wedding.

Annalina waited on the other end, having Logged In to familiarize herself with the moves she had practiced for seven days now. There were jubilant waves at the bottom of the screen. The second were online friends invited to witness the union between man and woman. Their voices democratically shut off. Viewing a virtual recreation of herself, Annalina applied virtual makeup complete with a free flowing set of black silky hair that dropped gingerly to her bare shoulders. She wore an Oscar de la Renta masterpiece – a strapless satin gown full of tulle netting. SheControl-exed the ivory gown with cap sleeves she had settled on earlier, saved these changes, exited the Settings Mode and watched the real world and virtual interface merge. Tika appeared on the screen, regal on a sequined boubou.

Drum beats, whistles, shouts, and tribal chants of celebration played in the background drowning the sonorous croon of Catholic hymns. Tika picked St. Peter’s Cathedral for ceremony and Buckingham Palace for reception and watched the two distant locales position themselves on the virtual map. A white carpet of sanctity looped out of the cross-sculptured mahogany doors of St. Peter’s, Nairobi. He entered the church, walking stealthily to the altar. There were no bride-maids. Friends who RVSP’d online marvelled at the spectacle.

“You look yummy. No shit!” said Tika.

“Umm, flattered. Thought you’d bleed dry coz I dropped the ivory with cap sleeves,” Annalina’s voice hissed through the headset.

“Here’s sweet Mami and benevolent Papi,” said Tika.

Annalina’s parents also came into view. A flurry of hands manufactured a wave, brows lifting as the dripping reality of virtual experience seeped deep into their subconscious beings. Without warning, this pleasant tête-à-tête was replaced with an alternating show of bar talk and horrific screams.

“Suspicious virus activity!”

Tika’s eyebrows widened. Some sod had hacked into his virtual wedding and was now posing nude on the screen. Evil laughter and gibberish blabber rose and peaked in the laissez-faire chatroom.

“You crazy asshole! You are ruining my wedding!” Tika thought to say. But all he said was, “Damn, I think we have a problem with the system. Let me work on it. A minute.”

He switched off the giant screen to shield his parents and the man of God from being treated to a Molotov cocktail of a pregnant man with a bushy ass doing a barmy torso twist. Tika rapidly typed a set of commands on the blue screen of the laptop but logged in to the virtual reality setup using his iPhone to track progress. He repulsed that hacker and re-entered the virtual wedding space.

Annalina had not known that the setup had been attacked. The screens had gone black but came back after a minute. She blew him a kiss. Tika opened his lips and caught it. Mami and Papi said nothing. Not a word had escaped their lips since being unwittingly convinced to take residence in the rectangular windowless room. Not even when Annalina’s Pastor began reading from A.C. Grayling’s Humanist Bible, The Good Book.

“Let us throw our eyes to Genesis, Verse 3-12,” he started.

“In humankind the work of renewal lies in the work of affection, the bond of one to another made by desire. Among the objects that nature everywhere offers desire, there is little more worthy of pursuit, little that makes people happier …If there is anyone who could take offence at the praise given to the most noble and universal of passions, let us evoke nature before him, and make it speak. For nature would say: ‘Why do you blush to hear the praise of pleasure, when you do not blush to indulge its temptations under cover of night?”

At the bottom of the screen, jubilant waves emerged from the crowd of online friends, their voices now democratically turned on. Tika’s face registered a chai jaba smile – the classic Kenyan half-arc smile of contentment. On Mama’s face were ink-drops of curiosity. Papa maintained a smirk and the Pastor a lopsided grin.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,” the Pastor began, “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Father, you have made the bond of marriage a holy mystery, a symbol of Christ’s love for his Church. Promise them that when they walk through the fires of love, they won’t be burnt,” he pleaded with God.

They took their vows.

“You’ll be my cake, my tea, my bread and hopefully, my wine.”

“I will be your wine. I will be the satisfaction of the last swirl at the bottom of your glass.”

“Tell Mami that you will be my wife and Papi that you’ll grace my bed every night.”

“Yes, I will be,” she said and heard Pam Ayres lines rushing to her lips. “I’ll marry you my dear so that I can push you out of bed when the baby starts to cry. And when we hear a knocking and it’s creepy and late, I’ll hand you the torch and you’ll investigate.”

“Babies?” Tika whispered. They smiled with a shared surprise. “Then I’ll be your husband.”

Two figures stood by the altar of promises. They were falling fruits trapped mid-air in a trance. A moment became an hour and then years. Detached in spirit from the stares around them, they could hardly tell how much time had ballooned. A sense of falling washed over them with pauses like bites on violin strings, like the hesitant splash of water on oil paint: together but not mixing. Their minds roved to places they have never been. The Congo forest with its unforgiving undergrowth tested their resolve. Mt. Kenya’s foot was pinching cold and the never-ending ripples of Lake Victoria stretched their possibilities far and wide.

Legend had it that after laying the foundation of the earth and life on the first seven days, God spent the entire second week shaping the crystal sands of Mombasa’s white sandy beaches. His intention was to build himself a sanctuary. It is under these coconut palms that God dictated the creation myth to Moses.

Annalina was to jet in for the honeymoon.

Then it all went black. The room went black. The screens went black. But Tika was still lost in the wonder of the moment. He imagined the fretted coastline, the delicate tracery of waving casuarinas. He imagined the powdery soft beaches, crystal azure waters, hobie-cats and laser sails.

“Any power backup?” the Pastor’s voice ripped through the silence.

Tika heard the voice from afar. He came back to reality, exhausted. He came back to blackness. Darkness burnt his eyes. His heart sunk. It was only possible to print out a Virtual Wedding Certificate when the wedding session was complete. So there was no certificate to be validated by e-Government Marriage Office.

“Do we have any power backup?” the Pastor asked again.

“No,” he replied. “A new installation is scheduled next month. We relocated the backup for this unit to the Data Recovery Unit.”

He opened the door to a dark night. Streaks of lightening bisected huge rain drops as the streets sagged under the weight of raging waters. The world passed Tika staring fatally at joyful malice. Adisia. He stood alone in the rain, his tears joining the heavy downpour running unto the tunnels beneath the city.


Richard Oduor Oduku (@RichieMaccs) is a poet and writer. He studied Biomedical Science and Technology at Egerton University. He works, as a Research Consultant, and lives in Nairobi. His work has been published in Jalada Africa, Saraba Magazine, Storymoja, San Antonio Review, among others. He also writes for #MaskaniConversations in the Star Newspaper. He is also working on a novel and a collection of poems and is a member of Jalada Africa (a pan-African writer’s collective) and Hisia Zangu (a writer’s and art society).

 

“Discovering Time Travel” By Suleiman Agbonkhianmen Buhari

A brightly lit, white walled room.

Two men are sitting, facing each other across a legless table.

One man is dressed in a white coverall, the other is wearing a black uniform.

One man has a story to tell, the other is eager to listen.

The blue chairs they are sitting on also have no legs.

Everything in the room defies gravity.

The story the man in white is about to tell defies logic.


“Please state your name and official designation for the record.”

“Dr. Kehinde Obaseki. GND57903. Research Scientist, Gondwanan Institute of Light.”

“Former Research Scientist, you mean.”

“Yes, of course … former.”

“Okay Doc’, tell me the truth. Where is the inertium? We both know you took it. We …”

“I have never denied that.”

“Okay then, where is it?”

“It’s lost in time.”

“Lost in time? …. You think this is funny?”

“I’m not trying to be funny. It’s the truth.”

“Okay then, give me a blow by blow account. Tell me how did nine ounces of the most precious metal known to man get lost in time?”

“First and foremost, inertium is not a metal. It’s a xenide series acatenon.”

“Not everyone has a Ph.D.”

“Apparently not.”

“Okay, correction taken, it’s not a metal but where is it?”

“Four years ago, I received an encoded message from my uncle, Dr. Michael Obaseki.”

“The Astrogeologist?”

“Yes. He was about to complete his tour of duty on the Leviathan. They had spent the last six months strip mining the Jovian moon, Europa, of its Earth-like minerals and like we both know, they never made it back home.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“It was a long time ago.”

“You said the message was encoded.”

“What? … emm … yes, I decoded it using a key we had agreed upon before he left.”

“Why the secrecy?”

“My uncle had many enemies.”

“Really, a scientist?”

“Of course, people trying to steal his ideas, people trying to discredit his ideas, people who thought his ideas were dangerous … believe me, scientists of my uncle’s calibre have many enemies.”

“I see.”

“Anyway, the message contained a summary of his thesis on the feasibility of time travel.”

“I thought your uncle specialised in interplanetary mining?”

“Yes, he did. But that was just his job, a means to an end. His main passion had always been time travel.”

“Which is impossible.”

“Was impossible.”

“Doc, even the best Quantum-Chronologists in the world all agree that time travel is impossible.”

“They are wrong!”

“Okay, calm down, did you show this thesis to anyone else?”

“Of course.”

“And … ”

“They laughed at it. The narrow-minded fools said it had too many holes … but they were wrong!”

“Okay then, tell me about this thesis. Now remember, speak English. Not everyone …”

“Has a PhD, I know.”

“Just saying.”

“Alright it’s like this, we all know Albert Einstein was wrong about many things. Time and science have dispelled most of his theories and made him a bit of a laughing stock. But crucially, old Albert was right about one thing, E=mc2. If an object can travel faster than the speed of light, it will no longer exists as particulate matter, it will cross the relativity bridge, shed all its mass and exist purely as energy. Energy as pure as light. Thus, energy that can travel unhindered through time.”

“Okay, but what does this have to do with your uncle’s thesis?”

“Everything. You see, ever since a German rocket broke the sound barrier in 1943, many attempts had been made to break the light barrier but they had all been unsuccessful. Even after almost 300 years of space travel the light barrier remained unbroken. The reason for this was simple, an object in motion cannot travel faster than light. The amount of energy needed to propel an object faster than the speed of light is virtually unattainable.”

“So you agree that time travel is impossible?”

“Was impossible. We have actually been observing time travel for over 200 years. As far back as 2013, many subatomic particles in the Large Hadron Collider were observed ‘jumping through time’, disappearing and reappearing as they travelled faster than the speed of light then slowed down. The only problem was scientists at the time didn’t really know what they were looking at, so they dismissed the jumps in time they observed as anomalies, misreadings caused by their computer’s inability to keep pace with the hyper-accelerated particles. But they were wrong, those jumps in time were the first instances of time travel ever recorded.”

“But surely there is a difference between particles disappearing and reappearing in a collider and actually travelling through time.”

“Actually, there isn’t. If a particle no matter how small can cross the relativity bridge, it’s only a matter of time before that process is replicated on a larger scale.”

“And you have replicated it?”

“Yes.”

“Then why do all the Quantum-Chronologists at the Arusha Institute still say time travel is impossible?”

“It’s like dinosaurs and spheres.”

“What?”

“People around the world have been digging up dinosaur bones since the time of the ancient Egyptians but blinded by dogmatism and superstition, they were always thought to be the bones of dragons or some other mythical creature. It wasn’t until the 1950s that most scientists and the general public accepted the fact that giant reptiles walked the earth millions of years before we even existed. Likewise, every day we look to the sky and see spheres, the sun is a sphere, the moon is a sphere, the planets closest to us are all spheres yet it took us almost 5000 years of geography and astronomy to finally accept that the earth is a sphere.”

“Hmm …”

“So, you see, evidence of something’s existence can stare us in the face for a very long time before we accept it.”

“Okay, but you still haven’t told me about your uncle’s thesis.”

“It’s simple, it’s like testing Vimanas.”

“Vimanas?”

“You see, when Vimanas and other flying cars are being tested in wind tunnels, gusts of wind travelling faster than the speed of sound are poured over them until they give off a sonic boom, indicating that the Vimanas, though stationary, had broken the sound barrier. The crux of my uncle’s thesis is- if a stationary Vimana placed in a wind tunnel and bombarded with gusts of wind can break the sound barrier, then maybe a stationary object placed in a photorium and bombarded with tachyon lasers can break the light barrier.”

“Tach …”

“Tachyon lasers are lasers that travel faster than the speed of light. The only problem was tachyons travel so fast and give off so much energy that they completely denature everything in their path. Steel, lead, gold, everything …”

“Except inertium.”

“Exactly. Inertium is the least reactive and least radioactive element in the world- these qualities make it the only substance that can withstand large doses of tachyons without being denatured. That’s why my uncle sent me his thesis, he knew I worked at the Institute of Light, one of the few places on earth with both a photorium and a laser powerful enough to produce tachyons. So, all I had to do was get some inertium and prove his thesis right.”

“But of course, inertium isn’t that easy to come by. I mean it’s worth over 10 billion units an ounce, it’s not exactly the type of thing people leave lying around.”

“Yes, and obtaining it almost proved impossible until I …em … received some help.”

“From who?”

“Dr. Emalaba.”

“The Space Federation’s Assistant Director?”

“Yes.”

“But he said he didn’t help you, he said you just went crazy that night and forced him to open the vault at laserpoint.”

“I understand why he is denying his involvement now that everything has … em … gone south but I can assure you he was not at laserpoint when he opened the vault.”

“So he opened the vault and just handed you nine ounces of inertium?”

“Yes.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he believed in my uncle’s thesis. Last year, when I gave a presentation at the Space Federation, he was one of the few people who didn’t burst out laughing or subject my uncle’s thesis to ridicule. So, after the presentation, he approached me and said he had been my uncle’s classmate at Arusha and maybe we should get together sometime and talk.”

“The way he remembers it, it was you who approached him. He said you were badgering him about tachyons or something.”

“It was a cocktail party. People were moving around. We probably bumped into each other. What difference does it make who approached who?”

“Doc, believe me, it makes all the difference at this stage. It’s your word against his so I have to point out all discrepancies.”

“Okay, fine, I approached him. I saw him at the party after the presentation and introduced myself.”

“Good. I just want to make sure cos’ you know it’s all on record.”

“I understand.”

“Good. So, did you meet up after the party?”

“Yes. I called him a few days later and we met up and talked about everything except my uncle’s thesis. We talked about life, family, football, cyber-chess, tsunamis, you know, everything except the elephant in the room. It was only when the Leviathan came up that we finally began talking about my uncle. At first, we swapped stories about his life. I told him how when I was growing up it took me a long time to realise that my mother’s brother, ‘Uncle Mike,’ who was always goofing around in our house and the world famous astrogeologist I was always hearing about were the same person. Then he told me what ‘Micholo’ was like back in their student days at Arusha, far from being the model student I had always imagined, it turns out my uncle was a bit of a lout and troublemaker in his early years.”

“Even great scientists were once schoolboys.”

“Yeah, schoolboys doing the most juvenile, irresponsible things. Anyway, it wasn’t until … I think … our third meeting. That we began talking about my uncle’s work. Then we began meeting regularly, you know, talking and building trust until we came up with a plan to experimentally prove his thesis right.”

“What was the plan?”

“It was simple. We agreed to wait until the Unity Day holidays when everyone would have gone home and I would have the laser and the photorium to myself then he would open the Space Federation’s vault and hand me a few ounces of inertium to use for the experiment.”

“Just like that?”

“Yeah … basically … you know he had the codes and everything.”

“Really? The Assistant Director of the Gondwanan Space Federation just agreed to open one of the most secure vaults in the world and hand you 90 billion units worth of government property. Really? You really expect me to believe that?”

“Believe it or not, that’s what happened.”

“Well he remembers it differently. He said after befriending him for five months, you finally lured him to the Space Federation on a holiday and threatened to vaporize him if he didn’t open the vault.”

“Why don’t you check the cameras?”

“Doc, we both know you disabled the cameras before calling him.”

“I never touched the cameras.”

“You didn’t need to. The last recording available shows you walking into the building, then you must have used some kind of jamming device because all the cameras stopped working.”

“Have you thought maybe it’s Dr. Emalaba who disabled the cameras?”

“It’s a possibility but there are more fingers pointing at you than him … Alright, after he gave you the inertium, willingly or unwillingly, then what?”

“We took a Vimana to the Institute of Light and carried out the experiment.”

“We? Did Dr. Emalaba go with you?”

“No.”

“But you said we. What do you mean ‘we’?”

“My uncle and I.”

“Your uncle who died in the Leviathan was with you at the photorium?”

“He was there is spirit.”

“Spirit? That’s a word you rarely hear people use these days.”

“He did most of the work, I can’t take all the credit.”

“Okay, so you’re just being modest not crazy? Cos’ I know you’re not crazy, you passed your psych evaluation and everything.”

“Of course I did!”

“Okay, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t building an insanity defence.”

“Of course not!”

“Okay, go on.”

“I … I arrived at the Institute and placed the inertium in the photorium … inertium is a beautiful thing. Black as space. In fact, if you look at it long enough you can almost see space in it. The rarest of elements. Completely unreactive and unradioactive, it was perfect for the experiment.”

“And expensive.”

“Yes, of course. Its value stems from its rarity.”

“So, where is it?”

“I left it in the photorium then I went back to the control room where I turned the laser on and began bombarding the inertium with tachyons. The laser beams were travelling so fast that they were invisible to the naked eye. At first, the only indication that tachyons were travelling through the photorium were the sounds and sparks they made as they ricocheted off the walls.”

“The tachyons were damaging the photorium?”

“No, not yet, the photorium was built to withstand hyper-photovoltaic bombardment.”

“But not for long?”

“Yes, it took a little longer than I had anticipated.”

“How long?”

“About fifteen minutes.”

“And it says here in the manual that the photorium was designed to withstand five.”

“Ideally, but as soon as I began the experiment I couldn’t stop. It’s not everyday one has nine ounces of inertium in his possession.”

“Even when the photorium was glowing red hot and the Institute’s alarms went off, warning you to evacuate immediately because the energy released by the tachyons was threatening to bring down not just the photorium but the entire Institute with you in it?”

“It was a risk we were willing to take.”

“Sounds suicidal to me.”

“It was worth the risk because just as I was about to lose my nerve and turn off the laser, there was a brief but dazzling flash of light ….”

“Then all the cameras in the Institute mysteriously went off again. Doc, it’s either cameras just stop recording around you or you used a jamming device to stop the Institute’s cameras from recording your activities that night.”

“I never used a jamming device.”

“Then why did the cameras stop recording? Or do you want to blame this one on Dr. Emalaba again?”

“No. It was the EMP.”

“What?”

“The EMP, the electromagnetic pulse that accompanied the flash of light knocked out all the equipment in the lab. The lasers, the light, the cameras, everything. Only the UPS-backed alarms kept blaring in the darkness that reigned between the flash and the restoration of emergency power. Then when the power was restored, I looked into the photorium …”

“And?”

“It was damaged but empty, confirming my uncle’s thesis.”

“How does … I mean where was?”

“The inertium? Gone.”

“Gone?”

“Yes, you see, the flash of light was an optic boom, an indication that the inertium, though stationary, had broken the light barrier, crossed the relativity bridge, shed all its mass and travelled unhindered through time.”

“Really? You really expect me to believe that? I mean I may not have a PhD but …”

“It’s the truth.”

“Okay, then where is it?”

“What?”

“The inertium. Did it travel to the future or the past?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Okay, let me get this straight, you somehow found a way to transport nine ounces of inertium through time but you don’t know where you transported it to?”

“That’s why we need to carry out more experiments!”

“More! … Ohh, so you need even more inertium? Look Doc, we know you used the flash of light as a distraction to take out the inertium from the photorium. If you just … ”

“Are you joking!? Even the Mercury Rover, the most heat resistant robot in the world couldn’t have entered the photorium so soon after it was bombarded with tachyons. Did you even consider that?”

“Then maybe the inertium was never in the photorium. Maybe the space-black brick we saw you placing in the tunnel was leadium or some other inertium-like alloy.”

“It wasn’t leadium. It wasn’t xenium. It wasn’t acatenium. It was inertium! How many times do I have to say it!?”

“Say it as many times as you like, it doesn’t make it true, neither is your story about an EMP accompanying the flash of light, that’s rather convenient since we both know that most jamming devices disrupt signals by emitting EMPs.”

“You are right many jamming devices emit EMPs but I can assure you on that night, that EMP was produced by an optic boom.”

“Alright, what happened next? After the power came back on and you saw the empty photorium, then what?”

“That was when your fellow GIPU agents stormed the building, took me into custody and accused me of theft, assault, battery and all those other charges.”

“You know it was Dr. Emalaba who turned you in? He said you whacked him unconscious after he opened the vault so when he came to, he immediately called the GIPU agents who apprehended you.”

“Like I said before, I don’t blame him for denying his involvement now that …”

“You really don’t like Dr. Emalaba, do you?”

“What?”

“Dr. Emalaba, you really don’t like him.”

“What are you talking about? He was my uncle’s friend, he …”

“Yes, I know, you said so before but what you failed to mention was they were no longer friends at the time of your uncle’s death.”

“Yes, they had some disagreements before he left but that was a long time ago, that …”

“Some disagreements? Well that’s putting it mildly, according to most reports, they had the fallout of the century, name calling, discrediting each other’s ideas, patent disputes, accusations of plagiarism, blackmail and libel, I mean you said it yourself, scientists of your uncle’s calibre have many enemies. You only failed to mention that Dr. Emalaba was one of them.”

“This has nothing to do with him.”

“But it does. In fact, I think it has everything to do with him cos’ when your uncle first mentioned his work on time travel, it was Dr. Emalaba who went about discrediting his ideas and making a mockery of his work and his acts of libel were so successful that they made your uncle a laughing stock at the Federation.”

“That was a long time ago. This has nothing to do with him.”

“Ohh, but it does cos’ rumour has it that as soon as Dr. Emalaba became Assistant Director, he got your uncle fired from the Space Federation, that’s why he had to take the job on the Leviathan. You idolised your uncle and I’m sure when you heard the Leviathan had collided with an asteroid, you were angry?”

“Yes, I was but …”

“You blamed Dr. Emalaba for his death?”

“No!”

“You wanted revenge!”

“NO!!! I’ve told you he has nothing to do with it! I can’t believe it, I’ve just made the most significant scientific breakthrough since the isolation of graphene and instead being celebrated, I’m here answering stupid questions!”

“Celebrated? Ohh, so you deserve a medal?”

“Yes!”

“For what, for the greatest act of vandalism in human history or for the greatest lie ever told?”

“Vandalism? What are you talking about?”

“Ohh, you don’t know? You destroyed the Institute. You burnt out the laser and damaged the photorium beyond repair. Three trillion units worth of government property had to be written off as a direct consequence of your stunt.”

“I … emm … I …”

“Let me guess, you didn’t know. Well don’t worry another Institute is being built near Agadez.”

“So the experiment can be replicated?”

“Really? You really think the Institute’s council is going to risk three trillion units worth of equipment again because you believe in time travel? Really?”

“I …”

“You destroyed three trillion units worth of government property just to get back at one man. I mean, that’s the only rational explanation, isn’t it? All this talk of spirits, time travel and tachyons, it’s all just a cover for vengeance. Petty vengeance. Stealing the inertium and destroying the photorium was your warped way of punishing Dr. Emalaba for your uncle’s death, wasn’t it? You …”

“It had nothing to do with him. I would have carried out the experiment no matter who was the Assistant Director.”

“But I’m sure you are happy he is no longer the AD?’’

“He …’’

“Ohh, you don’t know? Well, he has been replaced, accused of everything from incompetence to aiding and abetting your crimes. You should have seen him, he was completely devastated, broken, talking to himself, the man is on suicide watch … Doc’, do you understand me? It’s over. You’ve won. You’ve proven your point. You had your revenge. Now for the last time, where is the damned inertium?!”

“I’ve told you …”

“And please don’t say it’s lost in time. I’ve had enough of that, we both know time travel is impossible.”

“I …”

“Look Doc’, if you give back the inertium I promise, I’ll pull every string I can, we’ll even let you enter an insanity plea and you’ll serve only twelve years in Sector 2. I promise. But if you continue like this, if you keep withholding the inertium, I really don’t think you can survive Sector 5.”

“Then we have nothing else to say.”

“We?”

“Yes, my uncle and I have nothing else to say. We know we will be vindicated in time.”

“Your uncle? Doc’, don’t tell me you a member of one of these strange afterlife cults. Doc’ … Doc’ … Okay you leave me with no choice but to recommend that you be transferred to Sector 5.”


The man in black rose from his chair and walked toward the door, ending the session.

The door slid open.

The man in black left the room while the man in white buried his face in his palms.


Five years later.

Long after the man in white had been transferred to Sector 5.

A space-black brick materialised in an abandoned building, in the open-air ruins that used to be the Institute of Light.

A small child playing hide-and-seek ran into the ruins, picked it up and examined it for a while before throwing it away.

To him, it was just another odd looking stone.


Suleiman Agbonkhianmen Buhari is a full time writer who lives in Nigeria and divides his time between Lagos and Benin. He attended the 2013 farafina writers workshop and has been shortlisted for many prose and poetry awards, including the 2012 creative alliance short story prize. He is currently working on his first novel.

 

African-American Restaurants in San Diego

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Jalada 02: Afrofuture(s)

“Facing Forward, Looking Back” – Naddya Adhiambo Oluoch-Olunya

Part 1

» ・ “Last Wave” by Ivor W. Hartmann ・ “The Science of Nail Polish” by Lydia Kasese ・ “Boonoonoonoos little bit Boonoonoonoos” by Binyavanga Wainaina ・ “Jestocost, Djinn” by Maria A. Bukachi ・ “Refracted Futures”by Alexis Teyie ・ “eNGAGEMENT” by Richard Oduor Oduku ・ “The Red Bucket, Tango and Nahui Xochitl” By Valorie Thomas ・ “Found: an Error in the System” by Serubiri Moses ・ “Discovering Time Travel” By Suleiman Agbonkhianmen Buhari ・ “A Brief History of Nonduality Studies” by Sofia Samatar ・ “A Dark Ghazal, Suite of Blue, and Maybe Things” by Richard Ali ・ “Imaginum” by Moses Kilolo ・ “Daughters of Resurrection” by Melissa Kiguwa ・ “For Digital Girls Who Drink Tonic Water at the Bar When Purple Rain Isn’t Enough” By Ytasha L. Womack ・ «


“Intermission: Panel Conversation on Afro-futurism between Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar at the University of Texas.”


Part 2

» ・ “Salvation Avenue” by Jude Dibia ・ “Black Woman, Everybody’s Healer” by Hawa Y. Mire ・ “Of Angered Gods/ Merci, Bismarck” by Babatunde Fagbayibo ・ “Oblivia” by TJ Benson ・ “Elementeita and the End of Kenyan Time” by Stephen Derwent Partington ・ “Where Pumpkin Leaves Dwell” by Lillian Akampurira Aujo ・ “Sublimation” by Bethuel Muthee ・ “Myasthenia Gravis: Liberations” by Awuor Onyango ・ “The Dragon Can’t Dance” by Sheree Renée Thomas ・ “Secret Insurrection” By Stephani Maari Booker ・ “Color me Grey”by Swabir Silayi ・ “As Element Might Like It / Mermaid” by Okwudili Nebeolisa ・ “Glimpse” by Rebecca Onyango ・ “Afromutation” by Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga ・ “Onen and his Daughter” by Dilman Dila ・“Party Out” by Mwangi Ichung’wa ・ «


Afterword

“Things to Come” (Transcript) by Aaron Bady


Bonus

» ・ “Mawimbi Ya Mwisho” by Ivor W. Hartmann (translated by Okwiri Oduor) ・ “Sleep Naked” by Kampire Bahana ・ “Rebel Music and the African Country” By Richard Ali ・ “I Died With the Earth – A Similitude of the Days of the Destroyer” by Richard Oduor Oduku ・ “Wound” by John Keene ・ “Continuum” by Zak Waweru ・“The Libyan Mummy” by Dalle Abraham ・ “The Veiled Secret” by Umar Abubakar Sidi ・ “Letters to the President” by Nii Ayikwei Parkes ・ “The Iguana Boy with Three Testicles” by Victor Ehikhamenor ・ «


A Railway Map

 

A Railway Map

Credits

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Sext Me poems and stories

Part the First

» ・ “Coming down” by Akati Khasiani  ・ “Sex Ed for village boys” by Alexander Ikawah  ・ “Bobbitt wars” by Nkatha Obungu  ・ “The sportsman” by M. Neelika Jayawardane  ・ “Prey” by Zak Waweru  ・ “Bound” by Anne Moraa  ・ “Mourning lover” by Dele Meiji  ・“Rose water” by Kate Hampton  ・ “The first time” by Aisha Ali  ・ “Diaphoresis” by Victoria  ・ «

“Interlewd: “The sensuous black woman meets the sensuous black man”


Part the Second

» ・ “Fused glass” by Kate Hampton  ・ “Sex on a Train Wagon” by Richard Oduor  ・ "Sext me" by Aleya  ・ “The oink in doinker” by Tuelo Gabonewe  ・ “Transaction” by Wanjeri Gakuru  ・ “The voice under all silences” by Moses Kilolo  ・ "Inbox (1)" by Dorothy Kigen  ・ “Honeymoon Suite / Dreaming” by Nkatha Obungu  ・ “Kudinyana” by Linda Musita  ・ «


Bonus section (NEW, updated from October – Dec 2014)

» ・ “Madagascan Vanilla” by Mehul Gohil .

Credits

Please do not reprint, repost or reproduce this material without permission.