The Sierra Leone Web

  Ade Daramy is a UK Civil Servant, and a journalist. He is editor-in-chief of Mano Vision magazine and has had poems published in that and other magazine. He has also had readings of his poems on radio and television.  


Of Africa and Africans

Friends, Comrades, Africans, put away your fears
Give me a few moments to wipe away your tears
Come a little closer and give me your hand
Join me on a journey across the motherland

The time is ripe for us to show
The Africa that you and I know
We'll take this chance to share our views
That there's more to Africa than you see on the news

No, not that Africa of famine, disease, coup d'etats and wars
That's not my only Africa and I'm sure it's not yours
We know there are ills for which we have no cure
But we know that is not what we came here for

Let me dispel some of the myths and rumours
Let me rip them from your mind like a bad brain tumour
One man asked me, if I spoke African; all I could do was grin
I said, “Where EXACTLY do you want me to begin?”

I was sorely tempted to reel of a long list
But I tried my hardest to resist
I said, “We have more languages across these lands,
Than you can scoop up grains of sand in your hand”

I don't speak Amharic and I'm just getting to grips with Arabic
I don't speak, Twi, Gan or Akan and I'm not a Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa man
And, no, I don't speak Wolof or Swahili
Neither do I speak Mandinka nor Somali

Africa is as much about the Sahara
As it is about the Masai Mara
We've got the Gold, the Ivory and the Barbary Coasts
And, the Mosquito Coast is the one I like the most

You can ascend to the snows of Kilimanjaro
And you can also discover the birthplace of the Pharaohs

If you really know Africa
You'll know that the Left Coast (that's the West Coast)
Is as different from the right, as chalk is from cheese
Or as day is from night
But we're striving to be part of one whole
Like parts of the body each has its own role

So: Nigeria is not Algeria and Omar Bongo is not the President of the Congo
Uganda is not the same as Rwanda and Ethiopia is definitely NOT Eritrea
Neither is Mauritius the same as Mauritania
And Libya is nothing at all like Liberia

Now that I've told you a little about the land
Let me take time to tell you what it means to be an African

In all parts of the continent East, West, North and South
We speak as much with our hands as we do with our mouths
And, I know some sisters who can say more with their hips
Than you or I can ever say with our lips

Have you seen Africans travellin' back home?
Sometimes we each need a plane of our own
We take so many shoes, clothes and 'provisions' for our kin
It looks as if we've just had a lottery win

Sometimes I'm shocked by the things that we take
Has Africa really run out of Kellogg's cornflakes?
I recall one day my plane was grounded
When I found out why, I was astounded

Outside, the weather was just turning freezin'
And the captain finally announced the reason
“Ladies and gentlemen, it seems
We're weighed down by too many cans of Heinz baked beans”

My own idea of airport success
Is to get away without paying excess
Yes, when it comes to luggage, we know how to pack
Oh, and when we come here on holiday, we sometimes forget to go back

We come in all shapes, colours and sizes
In this continent that's full of surprises
Just as we have different regions and time zones
So we have many and varied hair and skin tones

In sport of course, football is king, I reckon
Whatever's the next best is a distant second
And all of us have the same crazy dream
To see the World Cup lifted by an African team

When it comes to music no one loves it like us
You'll hear it in homes, cars on the street and on the bus
It seems like it's almost everywhere; sometimes it seems it's even in the air
From Sweet Mother and Mutchana; remember 'Vul' Indlela by Brenda
What about 'Pata Pata' and 'Malaika'
And one day we'll all be singing 'Nkosi Sikelli Afrika'

Permit me to ask you just one thing, please,
If I were born in China, would you call me Chinese?

Well, It's nearly time for me to go
And I hope you know a little of the Africa that I know
If you've never been there, I hope you've made up your mind
Come and be surprised and delighted by what you'll find

And if you really want to know
I always have a piece of Africa with me wherever I go
Just to remind me of the things I really miss
I wear this silver band upon my wrist

Yes, I know I'm standing right here
But Allah knows, I'd rather be there
I hope that by now you've been able to see You can take me out of Africa but you can't take the African out of me