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after the injera, the wat, the niter kibby – a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Kebero
Kebero


his hands flutter over and on the kebero
a world constructed in the moments of sound
a world razed in the moments of silence
a rhythm of birth and rebirth
of heartbeat and life-blood

he’d gone to Africa, this young man
to chase down his roots
to buy exotic drums
to make rhythms with his brothers
to sing with his sisters
to learn, to grow, to come home and teach

he was full of grace, brimming with jazz
just rocking his universe, rolling with spirit
alight with green and gold,
the breath of wild savannas and
wilder cheetahs, monkey pranks
and elephantine tuskedness

what, i had to ask, was the take-away
after the safaris and the drumming
after the injera, the wat, the niter kibby
and berbere spices, the many fine meals
downed with ambo wuhteh

I met a sister as i was driving a forlorn road. She was walking alongside, carrying a bundle of wood and I stopped, offered her a lift. No, she said, NO! If I ride today, I’ll want to ride tomorrow. It’s a recipe for unhappiness. She’s right, you know, he said, from wanting comes despair …

and so i drum, just drum, he said
his hands fluttering over and on the kebero
a world constructed in the moments of sound
a world razed in the moments of silence
a rhythm of birth and rebirth and peace of heart

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes; photograph by Karl Heinrich and generously released into the public domain; Kebero, a conical hand drum, for the traditional music of Ethiopia and Eritrea  


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Tell us in poem about the most important take-aways you experienced from a vacation or other travel. Leave your poem/s or a link to it in the comments section below. All poems shared on theme will be published next Tuesday. The deadline for response is Monday evening, 8:30 p.m. PDT. All are welcome – encouraged – to join in: novice, emerging or pro. It’s about getting to connecting with other poets, showcasing your talent and having your say. If it’s your first time sharing a poem for Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photograph to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. These are posted with the work of first participants by way of introduction.


ABOUT

 

THINGS FALL APART

Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)

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CHINUA ACHEBE was a Nigerian poet and novelist. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) is his major work and is said to be the most widely read book in modern African literature. He is considered the founding father of African literature in English.

Listen to a short interview with Achebe‘s daughter in pop-out player on BBC’s Witness. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart “was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners – imposing their own traditions – led to tensions within the Igbo society. The book revolutionised African culture, and began a whole new genre of world literature. Witness radio program hears from Achebe’s youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe.”

Refugee Mother and Child Poem

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

– Chinua Achebe, Collected Poems

“Charity . . . is the opium of the privileged.”  Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

RELATED:

Africa’s Voice, Nigeria’s Conscience, New York Times
The Sacrificial Egg, The Atlantic