The Sierra Leone Web

  John Donaldson Sesay is a graduate of Fourah Bay College in Freetown. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Gender and Cultural Studies.  


Diversity With a Human Face

Diversity: the cliché of a world of adversities,
trials, tribulations, and miscommunications
a problematic discourse that de-celebrates
exotic differences, cultures, perceptions?

Diversity? A robe of many colors
designed to swindle exotic histories, and hegemonies,
cultures are dressed-down when they don't fit,
people are chewed and puked when they
as comets come from distant lands,
languages stifled for lack of acculturated vowels and consonants,
- they just don't belong!
It's a battle fought on the mythical land of belongingness.

Therefore, where the Asian eat with sticks,
the African eat with bare hands,
yet, the European eat with knives and forks,
when paintings are painstakingly drawn,
and displayed in art galleries,
the Aficionado tattoo their bodies - it's a work of art!

Thus, when faces are scarified or body parts mutilated,
when female genitals are clitorified,
when male organs are circumcised,
is it cultural exposition?
or is it a display of beauty and identity?
the hallmark of cultural differences
transcending ethnocentrism?

Ah! different clichés dress their otherness,
it's but a dress discourse that mocks the true image,
the self, the shadow in the mirror.

When Palestine sheds innocent blood
to secure a homeland and years of exotic heritage
when trigger-happy Israelis bulldozed their neighbors
with helicopter gunships and threats of total annihilation,
when patriotic Iraqis refused to be coerced by despotic
Arab partners cry genocide!
the coalition cries terrorism!

Who will sway the pendulum when
dreams are shattered,
when babies are brutally battered,
when marriages are ruptured
broken homes forcefully torn apart,
when women are prematurely widowed,

Is it the dream? The American dream?
Or is it Diversity with a human face?


My Alma Mater

On the hill top of mount Aureol,
Frozen in time and space,
Sits the forgotten sanctuary, the literary Mecca,
The Athens of West Africa.
In bygone days, when quest for knowledge
And academic pursuit prevail,
She reflects a fortress of security
Over the burgeoning city of Freetown.

Yet the mesmerizing toil of time,
Generations and administrative hands,
A grotesque image of academic irrelevance,
A portrait hardly reminiscent of the past,
Now bestrides the hills like a fragile Colossus.

A sad caricature!
Perhaps the poignant remains of thy former self!
Today you swank of buildings decrepit,
Classrooms congested, departments contrived and shrinking.
The corrosive aberration of human dignity, social values,
The arrogant and compulsive
Contempt for democratic tradition,
Never an act so inimical in all history,
--As to stifle thy growth and creative longevity!

Now thy stopgap lovers are thy pale bearers
Masking their skuzzy faces
In flowery rhetoric of ancient orators,
When like brass and tinkling cymbals,
They blubbered porous promises for social and political gains.
But who'd shirk his sacred duty to his Alma Mater?
Former Fourabites? Former lecturers?
--The incumbent establishment? Maybe?

Once students gravitate to thy gleaming shades,
In ponderous pursuit of knowledge, and glowing grades,
Now sexual favors endure the pains.
Meanwhile the library groaned under
The crushing weight of outdated
Textbooks, that scream with rage,
The computer room weeps copiously,
Under the sting of outmoded typewriters,
The laboratories mourn
The menacing absence of modern equipments,
Save the laughable solitary Pipette and Bunsen burner.

Fourah Bay College, My Alma Mater,
Though my faith can hardly be liken to a mustard seed,
Yet in sackcloth and ashes,
With shaven head and beaten brows
Eating the bread of sorrow,
And drinking the water of affliction,
My prayers shall never cease till
Thy story is told.