The Sierra Leone Web

  Amara Momoh, AKA Doc Rado, was born in Mano Kortuhun, Kenema District, Sierra Leone. He is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone and the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. He currently resides in San Diego, California, where he writes poetry and conducts poetry readings and workshops.  



From ancient wells next to gold mines
Deep in the heart of Mother Africa
To the four corners of this full page
Flows blood that is viscous and complete
Enough to change the way one looks at life

Blood that was contaminated in the birth canal
By viruses and bacteria in the waste of strangers
Is the blood we now mix with herbs and spices
To form portions containing peace and love
That we share with the Adams and Eves of today

Blood that was used to soil Mother Africa's garments
Is like fortified water we used to baptize ourselves
Purifying the demons that dwell in us
To create the effigy of our enigmatic god
That is pure and good

Blood that was shed with knives and bullets
And then colored everything from black to white
But red is the blood we need to use
To write our own story that defines our lives
It is the blood of the African spirit


I Cannot

I cannot find
Simplicity in the dust
Nor in the ashes I walk through
On a hazy day like this
When the clouds above
Refuse to rise.

Still I walk, groping
Through the remains.
Pieces of histories
Scattered like useless cinders.
the world I live in
Enclosing on,
Swallowing me
Or so I think


In Your Absence

In my head busy maggots feed
On gray matter
Like vampires on blood
Coagulated and mixed with oxygen

Or night street walkers on idle men
With desires as enormous as nothing

The moon is travelling as you
In between leaves whose trees
Hold the sky far above
And I lie in a heap of memories

You are gone and I am awake
Watching stars
Wrapped up in emptiness

But the stars are moving
Pivoted around you, your absence
The maggots could care less about


We Dance

Tonight ancestral songs have come
Through concrete barriers and iron gates
Unafraid of tree and ropes
And shackles and death
In us fire glows
Its blaze reflecting us under the African sky

Tonight ancestral songs have come
Through concrete barriers and iron gates
Unafraid of tree and ropes
And shackles and death
In us fire glows
Its blaze reflecting us under the African sky

We dance like palm trees
At midnight waving hands and heads
In calm surrender like stallions on hilltops
To bird songs
We dance to these songs
Hungry for their meanings and warnings
Thirsty for their sweet taste in our dry mouths

Tonight we dance
To freedom songs and liberation songs
Like soldiers to victory songs
That echo the tranquility of promised lands
Nourishing our minds
With wisdom and strength
Knowledge and power

To these old beats that take us back home
We dance through the memories of time
The sounds of distant drumbeats
Speaking to us in melodies
Proverbs and rhymes
We the African lions, giraffes and tigers
In the company of strangers


The Road to My Story

The road to my story is a back
Black back that's cared by chains
Whips and sticks

Forced to lay juxtaposed with one another
Rusty metal shackles ate into robust black flesh
We fed on their waste

On our way to the unknown
Where we will be raped
Robed, tortured and murdered

Compelled to sing songs
Songs for our gods and our martyrs
We sang songs of tears and of blood

Obliged to dance to the rhythms
The drumbeat of our ancestors
We danced with the spirit of our dead

Those they threw overboard everyday
Coerced today to act as though
Nothing ever happened in the dark

Or even in bright daylight on the deck
To forget our history
We must not forget our past

The wounds on our minds are real
Like our skin color
Painful as the lives our fore parents lived
Permanent as the universe

The road to my story is a back
Black back scared by chains
Whips and sticks


At the Bottom of the River

In the shape of hearts gem stones were pure
But the hearts of a people with lost hope
Were hard and cold, concealed
In the darkness of our skin

Time, the web of woven threads
Of memories we lived in
Left us no room for peace

Love, the connecting fibers
Became thinner and weaker
Gradually, and then finally broke

Before dawn could come
The night as black as me
Evil stole our thoughts

Today we wear masks with signs
Of AIDS, tribal wars and genocide
A loud cry of a people hidden in laughs
Of lions and elephants

This is the shape of Africa
Even to the innocent child
That has been left without pride

At the bottom of the River
Where gems lie, no longer clean
And evil still lives with anger


The Symbol and Me

My shadow remains etched
On the pavement of Targreen
For the right time I have waited tirelessly
Walked endless ways to embassy doors
Swallowed bitter pills of rejection
Marveled at what was unseen
Those places and peoples across from me
Over my own blue sea
With folded hands I have wondered
The way of a saint about false messiahs

It has been as if
The symbol of a god Bai Bureh left me
I had disregarded in shame
Allowed it to decay in a pool of blood
More than a decade now
My wretched soul has yearned for change
Change that could bring bright colors
To the watchful eyes of the world
I have been patient and careful of others
My footprints still on the tarmac

Today to be whole again
I must return to the etches
I am the skeleton from the foreign
The ghost of a nomadic wanderer
Crossing paths other than my own
Returning to Targreen like those before me
In honor of the symbol of my belonging
The land of mystic vegetation by the blue sea
The lion mountain in the valley of death
Shaded gracefully by one enigmatic cotton tree


Civil War

For a decade and more
We yelled for rescue
Our boat
Into the bottom of the dark sea
Sierra Leone falling
To the bottom of the list
The civilized nations
Those who made the holes
In our boat
With the wealth in our minerals
Killed the innocent
Mimed the young
Raped the poor
Women and children
In the name of politics
Insatiable greed
For a decade and more
We lived in blood
In fire
We lived in mistrust
Perpetual fear
We cried tears of blood
Sweated pain
We breathed in the smell
Burning bodies
The rest of the world
Wounded children
Buried their dead
Who, too young to died
Slaughtered, were
Fed to vultures


My Dear Mama

My dear mama Sierra Leone
My heart longs for solace
As I am here in this lonely place
Dreaming that you are in peace

I desire your motherly cues
To polish and savor my views
On the many forms and ideas
That continuously fuel my fears

Feeling love, I think of you
For you have born in me love
Feeling afraid, I think of you
For you have showed me fear

Many a night, the sky not blue
And my heart and soul in pieces
You have put thoughts in the right places
And I like a baby, have slept in peace


Ceremonial Gathering

In dark smoke and heavy ashes 
We collect our tears 
That can no longer evaporate 
Into a wretched jar of sad memories 
Left behind by warmongers 
we must make it gravid 
Halt the blowing of cold sadistic wind 
That has left us dead or blind 

We gather together 
We the fey thinkers 
With cutlass-sharp minds 
And amoeboid faces 
That must not conform any longer 
To myths and fictitious tales 

With our night wings 
The witchcrafts 
Who dance in-between beats 
With feet as quick as lightening 

Our mothers of wisdom 
With hands that have shaped time 
Into light and color into people 

Our ancestral mentors 
With clean and pure hearts 
The ones who made the roads 
Under blue sky we walk every day 

Even the moon is absent 
And the battlefield is empty 
No enemies to fight 
But drummers with beats 
And rhythms we must dance to 
Here at home


News of My Father's Death

The words came to me in waves
I listened carefully, almost alone
Three homeless men discussed their troubles
Over cheap liquor
Over the ocean in the morning mist
The sun rose
Like the ghost of a dead relative

Barefoot, I received the waves
Collected the words with my heart
Saw the ghost of my father rise
Like steam over boiling water
That condensed somewhere above
Into rain of tears that fell
Into the ocean of my own


Message from Home

Here I have waited for your return
When locust became my sky
The night my day
When the sun escaped human harm
In the savanna fields
And I could no longer sleep
In the comfort of the lion mountain
When the rivers folded their beds
And I saw no rain
Only your memory dancing in the grass
And I waited for your return
Here where I held your hand
And we walked in dreams
For feathers to fall from above
And stars once fell for you to germinate
Here where I held you on a mat
Fed you on these sagging breasts
And you left me holding onto your shadow
A talisman tied around my waist
In the jungle the Nyabinghi prophet spoke
Of dawn to come and your return home
As a true Hamite born to Negroes
Here where the mighty shall build their abodes
And I wait for your return


The Gongoli

With valued attention and curiosity
I listened to him relive his story of trials
How he had ran through fire, escaped death traps
Land mines and dodged bullets from machine guns

That he wore a gown made of lace
But stained with blood, sat next to his mother's bier
The entire night, lamenting and squalling
Before laying her remains to rest in the tribe's crypt
In the village green the next day

In his eyes I saw pain, acute and unbearable
Dearth, pure and abject
Written in frowns on his forehead and scars on his face
His body and talk was a film I saw and became afraid
Of my own innocence, like a teary eyed soul

On his inside I figured a mind made up of acumen
Broad and clean but weakened
Otherwise rendered vacant
By all the experiences like unbearable weights
Hanging on him and pulling him down
wasting him in the dust


Before I Die

Rain is at my door
Like death closing in on me
This dark morning.
All the memories I have,
Being washed away like garbage,
Will collect at the bay.
I will be buried today.
Before I die like my neighbor,
In the hands of harsh wind,
Or lost in a song,
I will build a nest
With kind words on tablets.
I will make odes,
Feed the birds that sing
And praise the hornets that fly.