The Sierra Leone Web

  Ernest Cole is a Lecturer at the University of The Gambia where he teaches English. He is also a journalist, and currently runs the Literary Column of The Gambia's "Daily Observer" newspaper.  


To a Dying Land (Sierra Leone)

One prolong savage rape
a brutal virginal rupture
of hymen and natural resources.
A collision of metal and flesh
in orgasmic ecstasy,
a stripping of decayed flesh
from foul decomposed souls;
a ejaculation of rotten semen
on bruised and numbed female copperheads.
The wicked gushing of blood
from decapitated bodies that struggle in a grim strong
dance of death
clutching at the earth in desperate but futile
defiance of death.
The terrible gash on human heads
revealing the centrifugal madness
of the khaki and boots
in its cold tomb-like embrace.
My native land! A human abattoir!
When shall your light descend?


Life's Diurnal Course

The sun rises in the morning,
a new day is born.
Light illuminates the horizon
and life germinates and blossoms.
When the sun sets in the evening,
a day is dead.
darkness falls and eclipses the horizon
life withers and ceases to be.
Between sunrise and sunset
a span of life is run.
So make the best of time
for the light of day
will surely be replaced
by the darkness of night.


So Dark!

the pangs of gnawing hunger
in the abundance of resources,
the crushing debt burden
under the weight of massive
foreign bank accounts,
the latent under-utilized talents
among unlimited human potential,
the unbridled pain and suffering
amidst the warmth and comfort of nature!
the fire of unquenchable thirst
in the abundance of refreshing water,
the nauseating squalor of the slums
in the magnificence of splendour,
the cold impenetrable darkness
in the clear blazing sunshine!
Africa! so rich, so bright,
and yet, so poor, so dark!



In God's image and likeness created,
of His spirit and nature interfused
with promises of hope and redemption
of potentials great and unlimited.
Art thou a fountain of love?
In war and bloodshed condemned
through rape and torture tainted,
of cold sadistic brutality
in bloated corpses manifested.
Art thou a wellspring of hate?
In peace love and salvation
your positive tendencies registered,
in strife hate and damnation
your negative tendencies noted.
Humanity! Tell me Humanity!
Art thou a mirror of the positive?
A reflection of the negative?
A blend of the positive and negative?
What art thou?


The Wretched of the Earth

I am a foreigner,
all because I transcend
the borders of my country.
Scorned, insulted, exploited,
brutalized and then deported;
I am the scapegoat for your crimes.
I am the unwanted phenomenon!
The symbol of the African death.
I am the scum of the land!
The hustler! The Rolling Stone!
But I am also black,
as much as my kith and kin,
with red blood in my veins.
I hear, I see, I feel it all...
in my every nerve and vein!
The mocking laughter! The plastic smile!
The shifting eyes!
I am a foreigner,
but yet I contribute immensely
to your country's development.


Nightshift Workers

At the onset of twilight
she wakes,
the pain all over her body
reminds her of the agony
of night duty.
From the bathroom
she emerges,
having carefully washed
the tell-tale sighs
of her profession.
In front of the mirror
she sits,
perfumes and cosmetics
competing for a place
in various parts of her body.
She bends, she twists, she preens
as she prepares to labour
under the crushing weight
of men determined to extract value
from the rhythms their money could buy.


The Rainy Season

At the onset of the rain
The drought-stricken land
Sucks up the wetness
And the gates to the field
Are flung widely open.
It is the signal for planting!
It is time for joyous toiling!
At various times of day
The hard and erect hoe
would thrust and dig deep
Into the receiving wet soil.
Seeds in different quantities
Seeds of varying potency
Of various shapes and sizes
With different force and power
Are broadcasted in layers
Into the womb of the earth.
With time and much labour
The seed now transformed
Blossoms and grows into new life!


A Dirge for Mongo Beti

In truth Literature will never see,
A power house so dynamic as he.
With lines and verse ingeniously wrought,
Humanity's picture to us he brought.
Today in sweet repose he lies,
The sacred muse do themselves cry;
For in a marble vault, a clod of clay
There do repose till the end of day.

From his grave will spring a rose
The tender shoots of beauteous prose.
My pen, the trumpet of my soul,
The ink, the tears in my eyes,
Its symbols, echoes of my clarion call,
This dirge to Mongo Beti I sing,
An epitaph on his tombstone I do inscribe.