The Sierra Leone Web

  Claudia Ainajugor Anthony holds a master's degree in international law from Kiev University's Ukrainian Institute of International Relations. She returned home in 1995 and worked as a publisher and editor. She founded the "Tribune of the People" newspaper and did freelance reporting for the BBC's Network Africa programme. In 1999 she founded the Alliance for Female Journalists (AFJ) in Sierra Leone. The poems are from her collection "The Expression," due to be published in 2002.  


The Confession

Hail woman! Sunday the aisles walketh
Limp, scared to confession way maketh.
Behold! I confess to the priest she sayeth,
God bless you my child he to her sayeth.
Hitherto pray they, did bold both prayeth;
Thence this woman to the priest sayeth
Thus cometh I to repent for I sinneth.

Bullet, happy-trigger to them I gaveth
Myriad breath Your creation did cutteth.
Short, long and sleeveless*, many seweth
So walking-streets handless did maketh.
Penitent daughter hath ye today decideth
Tell them, my woman be hence forgiveth
Go, pray and sin no more. Go, go forth.

*Armed men and women demanded their victims to choose between short sleeves – which meant amputation at the elbow or slightly above the elbow; long sleeves meant amputation at the ankles and sleeveless, amputation of an entire arm.


Gang of Bandits

mental, physical your light they steal
your sight, your taste, your health
the gang
gaggles you, your breath, your smell
and sounds and lo! stands you as mute
the gang
sweettalks you of bridges never built,
while many a road lie awkward in tilt
the gang
shows off, see them like perennial princes!
ride carriages their monies can't buy
the gang
lives in palace for which you pay dearly
red carpets catwalks in white flowing gowns
the gang
beit tobacco leaves* around necks hang
now tread they on your backs hard
the gang
from dusk till dawn robs and loots
safes they sweep that which's yours
the gang
reeks power and riches; yea! the bank's broke
now serve you them not the reverse
the gang
years speed there's knock on your door
brings lies of bridges that'll never be built
the gang.

*Krio slang for neckties.


Di Wah Don Don!*

Towards morn pipers stopp'd playing
Decade-long did we keep praying,
The music suddenly stops playing
In a chaos that was pan ageing.

In the morn will our hens start laying
Chickens that'd start daily chuckling
Our goats and sheep'd be bringing
Cubs in peace, that'd soon be grazing.

Let us the warlords give jelled warning.
Their thirst for gold's not our longing!
Resist we their endless, brutal thieving
See ourselves absent from thus cueing.

And when the guns silent snoring
Usher in good old days reliving
Our work can we go on but caring
In this modish world hardly caring.

Wake up! Today the dust's settling
Vanished are they, will not be coming!
Take up your hoe, your rake be plowing
Earth desolate from decades of warring.

* A Krio translation of: The War's Over!


The Pilgrimage

The Harmattan wind
slaps their faces, whispers into their ears.
Rushes ahead faster than the tortoises
into a whirlpool
on the hilltop. Move on did they,
under skies gray; in bushpaths
and across black rivers
in fear and despair; with hope somehow
Holy Land make.

The Harmattan wind
wakes up dust, trees bow as it travels thru.
Amid the hurstling voices of leaves
scorch hard did the sun,
tortoises aged, new, unborn. In their match
from approaching massacre;
away from brutal death
their race threaten. Gun shots' staccato
music despised.

The Harmattan wind
suffocates in the dull skies, gray and black.
By white, hov'rin' death angel machines
hunting, the tortoise race
to eliminate. Move on did
they exhausted, dusty
and in need of a sip.
Camp beneath trees with soothing valley
sounds from below.

The Harmattan wind
punches take at their shells, whitens faces.
Hungry, thirsty, charred trembling lips;
wailing toddlers get
slaps from mothers weary of trips
but tarmac hot did they, on
this involuntary
Pilgrimage; swearing sunset to reach
the Promised Land.


Rumours of War

My neighbours' parrot robes in bright,
long feathers; yellow, scarlet and white.
Calls me by my name, giggles, sings
then flies away and bad news brings.
All day she talks; says there is a war
on his legs to us approaching raw
and sure, with heavy backpacks; two
metal pipes, boosted esprit de coups.

So my neighbours in the morn her cage,
lock fast and poor, sweet parrot in her rage
giggles less, sings less and can't fly away,
cannot bad news bring. Boots next day
in their match thunder, deafening sounds
from big metal pipes. Gape I at my hounds
wink I at her. Thus came war, untold
as by my neigbour's parrot told.


Alien Objects

Carved from earth so flesh became,
Shaped in flesh, flesh in pleasure allow
Thwacked, firm for revenge itched
Halved by a mob thirsty for blood
Stuffed nature unaware, with wood, steel
Pained and bled, the world beyond craved
Looked on did they, hearts iron-hard
Culled pleasure themselves never dare
Chafed those the sight couldn't bear
Snatched wood, evidence of blood
Journeyed; never! one's last copulation be
Endowed same, as bees into hives, whence
Drooped honey sweet, kind to the mind.


The Refugee

in a faraway land I call home
ponder I bolstering my dome
ordered the queue to roam
for rations meal make not fit
and long hours the wait beat
for manna babes feed incomplete
and bread my tongue browses neat
at night when I enter my tent
ask God the rain delay
that I can sleep on mat dry
as 'twas when I's home.
God heard me not the day before
came rains and my mat soaked
thus for sun prayed my mat to dry
that I can sleep as if 'twas home
my new neighbours scath me
think their meal I ursurp
think I on Arabian carpet fly
beats me up, says: "Go home!"
methinks I'd better go home
away from the land I call home
roll calls blast everyday loud
my piss, my ass they also check
disflowered me in the name of aid
where I's forced to run's not home
but where my head's is my home
even in this land I call home.


My Child From A Stranger

Hating you and loving you;
Synchronously my puzzle be,
Can't tell from whence you came
For this alone I hate you.
Can tell you're my blood and flesh
For this I truly love you.

With my arms I strangle you;
Wrapped firmly 'round my stomach,
When you in my womb move, I
My breath hold. Wish death for you
That you'd return to whence you sprung.
Yet you're keen daylight to sample too.

To me, always a stranger are you
As is your Seed, always to me.
Startled when sleep was sweet, and hell
Broke loose. Dragged away at cockcrow,
Bruised. Gagged when yell out I
For help that came late too.

Beaten when I say no, ordained fresh
A commodity. As communal utensil used
By your Seed, yes! All of them!
How'd I ever know who's your flesh!
What can't be undone I surely can tell,
You are my blood. You are my flesh.


Farm On Fire

Violet, blue then yellow
green, orange and pink
the night sky above lit.
Not a rainbow.
The stars twinkle not
choking smoke
ascends the day sky,
the moon conceals
explosions nearby
"Either you accept us
or with fire perish!"
The dogs whimper;
cats wild miaul,
peril know.
Fire our farm strikes
still to recover
from decades of famine,
though it fertile land be
wilderness but offer.
'Twas the day
we burn'd our farm.
Stands in ashes
crops destroyed
birds sing not
birds away stay
children's slings
redundant lie;
boring for those
not in school.
Lie in waste
lo! There's hope
plants would bud
blossom would they
bear and feed
would they.


The Dog, the Fly and the Vulture at Dinner

A date no man, no one should heed,
Dinner man musn't partake of, never!
Still creatures out there would feed
From same table in unusual harmony.

Fresh, stale; far too much! Vast overture,
Bloated and stinking. Bad for man's health
Save the dog, the fly and the vulture
For long, long hours feast side by side.

In disquiet silence: no howling, no buzzing;
No hissing or grunting as man go by.
On and on they feast, caring not who's gazing
The creatures want to say: Enough's enough!

Man suddenly, life six feet below invents.
Man looks on, is mute and cannot weep.
Man, the creatures' audaciousness resents
Man's helpless. Reckons he the dinner fixed.

The cat, like man, pass by at lunch
Methink she also her seat would take.
Today she opts to forgo a munch
On the remains of laps she once sat on.

The dog, the fly and the vulture at sunset
Take a nap alongside the surplus. On top of it.
On roof tops. Exhausted to move on. Mebet,
A glutton, a greed, like the man who feed them.


One Reason to Live

Anxious hours, days in capsule fled by
other molecules tired to resist die;
weak. Yearn for an explosion
to break free from detention.

Hot, sticky in this place godforsaken
air-tight, cold, no light, no water taken.
In the dark, clerics our bodies give stench
it's clever to die we decide on a bench.

Who then the story will impart?
Who then an echo will avert?
Move on my people, endure pain
show your issues they'ld defeat pain.


Casting the Die

You're my aunty, be it my mother
my lover or my sister.
even my niece or my daughter;
but my goal will not falter.

When I ride high but you behold
and I can fly but you withhold,
all I do is put a bet, the die's fold
rip open your womb, win more gold.

Sure cause you pain to me untold
he saith "A boy!" Mesays "A girl!"
Cast we the die get I some gold;
in this fiendish option for survival.

"A boy!" Saith he, "a girl!" mesays bold.
Sure cause you pain to me untold.
Win a bet, awashed with gold
Demonic shortcut to survival; untold.



Here comes the maid who milked my cow
and starved her cub
on my farm, during the rains.
Here comes the maid who drank the milk,
milked from my cow
whose cub she starved.
Here comes the maid who slayed my cow
cooked her beef
on my farm, while I's hid.
Here comes the maid who cub perished
that milk needed from
mother butchered.
Here comes the maid who milked my cow
starved hell her cub;
her mother's milk gulp.
Here comes the maid who milked my cow
tendered I on my farm
rainy day to support.
Here comes the maid, who knelt my cow
right on my farm
that on the ocean bank stood.
Here comes the maid who slayed my cow,
cooked her beef; perished her cub
when blitz on my farm rained.