The Sierra Leone Web

  Karamoh Kabba was raised in the metropolitan diamond-town of Koidu. He was educated at the Government Secondary School for Boys in Magburaka, where he took his GCE 'O' and 'A' Levels. In 1991 he left for the United States to study at Montgomery College. He is a founding member, president and CEO of Sierra Leone Youth Lending Hand, Inc., a non-profit organisation to provide medical and educational assistance to the youth of Sierra Leone.  


Coming and Going

Shackled, welted and crammed in shades
Low down dirty bellies of whales
Abound with shades in shaded entrails
Vowing victory at 'pale faces'
Envious not of surviving shades
Rearward the 'white man's' graves
Yonder, on top of whales


Second Negroes in the Diaspora

We are….
Yes! We are….
We precede steam engines.
Yes! We are Steam Engines.

Our blood and sweat?
The coal….
Our muscles and bones?
The crankshafts…,

which crank up
that crank up
earliest to modern crankshafts,
and fracture our own shafts.

Little river rows
run down our furrowed brows
yet, we a-a-a-are -
first Negroes in the Diaspora.


Souls and Spirits

Souls and spirits roam our midst
Souls and spirits roam our mountain
In 27,000 sq. mile den, they search for garments,
Garments of body, blood and bones.

Bash! Bang! Boom!
The machetes slashed,
The guns shot,
The shells shattered
Garments of body, blood and bones.

Bashes, bangs and booms,
Slashed, shot and shattered,
Body, blood and bones,
Souls and spirits ejected out
Garments of body, blood and bones

Souls and spirits search the den
On the white-sand beaches and
In the white-stone fields.
On the red-metal mounds and
In the bean and pod forests and rice paddies,
West, East, North and South,
Garments of body, blood and bones.

As the den gropes for peace and tranquility,
Souls and spirits roar high.
Roar for garments of souls and spirits,
Search for garments of body, blood and bones.


In the Wake of the Pandemonium

From miles and miles away I traveled
In the wake of the pandemonium.
I arrived at Gandohun at noon.
It was like a ghost town.
Between my grandparents' houses is a gazebo,
Beneath which lays my grandfather.
Beneath this beautiful structure lavished with
Expensive stone concrete slabs.
Unto it, I grabbed and clenched steadily against in dismay.

Dogs that stood against the invaders lay about,
Drawn in pools of blood.
Sheep and goats
Stuck noses up in the quiet of the ghastly midday air,
In disgust, in the wake of the pandemonium.
Sounds of forest-birds and weaverbirds
Occasionally broke the still silence.
Hens ran helter-skelter,
Breast stuck out in search of chicks,
Roosters stood on logs and rooftops,
Bent heads side-to-side,
Aghast by the silence,
The silence, in the wake of the pandemonium.
Every survivor had fled the wrath of the invaders.

Many civilians were abducted.
Many were murdered in cold blood because,
Many resisted their abductors.
Many were wounded.
Many, due to the severity of their injuries
Became of no use to them were left to die.
Many stood the pain before help was there.
Many were too late before help was there so,
Many died.
For they that survived on both sides,
Knew this silence was not a victory celebration.
For they knew they have done wrong.
For they knew, they have been wronged.


The Storm

It was June 1999
And I was only eight
Prostrate with both hands supporting my chin
On a small wooden bed of hay mattress,
Off which I had dragged a two-in-one body
Just two weeks ago when we reached here
In a storm of which I am a part.

But, this was just one simple task
Her calabash like protrusion rendered her defenseless
I can still see her fading eyes
Staring into the barrel of my AK-47
As I gaze back prostrate
As my AK-47 cuddle my belly.

But, my job was to take no prisoner
Yet, this one was no use to my cause.
I knew some power had taken the soul
Before my trigger finger
Made the usual split of an inch split seconds to-fro.
As I reflect two weeks ago.

For every life I took since it stormed
I got a pad on my shoulder.
"My son, I'm worried about you"
My platoon leader altered
As I dragged the two-in-one past him.
Even the most ruthless of all knew
This was not a praiseworthy kill.
But, how much better do I know at eight.

But, why am I here?
I ask myself.
This storm brewed before I
This storm started to blow before I
I am just a particle in the way of the storm
My mother too was this storm's way casualty
I console myself.


The Heroic Canine

Dedicated to the war victims of Sierra Leone

Cain, a Canis familiaris
Barks, snarls and growls
Slides in zigzags--
Claws and clutches on resilient legs,
Synchronically with rifles' rapid rattles,
As little lethal metals
Shatter sadistically beneath his paws
Form clouds of dust into a grith.

He becomes desperate
When the bangs become closer and louder.
But the cloud becomes opaque,
So, his assailants attack blind.
His defense becomes fears,
Deterring his antagonists.
We exit through the back door.
Now, Cain realizes he must pull out.

Pull out of the battlefront,
Hops on three legs and
Sniff his way our way
With dripping drains of blood
From a severed right leg claimed by a shrapnel
From the rhythmic bangs and booms.
In the cover of the shrubs and ravines
In which we disappear in tin air.

Cain's heroism procured minutes
And our lives were saved.
But he never stops howling.
The wound causes him agony.
Now, our safety is at risk.
I pad his back and hold his jaws to no avail.

But Cain's battle just begins.
"We must put him to sleep"
My brother mutters solemnly.
"Did you say put him to sleep?"
"He had his life on the line for ours,"
I interjected.
"That is why we must put him to sleep,
So we can live to evoke his heroism,"
Said my brother firmly.

We cover Cain's head with a sack, and
Wrap a leather belt around his neck.
We pull tight,
While we hold hard his jaws.
Little rivers in our faces form dams on his fur.
We pull tight and tighter.
Slowly, noiselessly and peacefully he sleeps
So, we live to invoke his heroic act.

His fur drenched with our dripping tears,
We sit around him.
"He died for our sins,"
My brother said.
I break into a dirge.
But my brother quickly hushes me down,
"You will be next if you don't shut up."
Since then, I live with these questions-
Was it the right thing to do?
Should we have risked death?


The Oppressor

Savior, thou proclaim.
Far afield, through thy glass window, thou watch
In fear of thy self.
But thou is conscious of
Thy subjects in despondent poverty.
For thou has no resolve.
Confine in thy air-conditioned turret,
Thou spun thy wheelchair,
Resplendent with regal decorations
Marked by gold edges ornament,
Around athwart thy mahogany desk.
But thou hear rapid rifle rattles instead.
So, thou abandon thy deprived children.


My Solitary Me


On the bank of a distant ocean
Where they know me not
As a Lion,
As an Eagle looking far
Into the ocean
Seeing home only in my dream
Not in the company of Gbini
Not in the company of Paddle ,
Santa Claus
This Christmas
This New Year,
Wishing to fly
To the Mountaintop as a Lion
Where the moon might not shine
To write my right
To read my right
On the bank of the ocean
Here am I


Happy New Year Mi Nor Die Oh!

11:59:55 pm
Tick! Tuck! Tick! Tuck!…
The grandfather clock, and
Gbongoh! The bells ring
In successive rhythmic metrical with 'Tick!'

Happy New Year mi nor die oh!
Ah tell God tenki mi nor die oh!
Papa Margai mi nor die oh!
Papa Juxon mi nor die oh!
Papa Shaki mi nor die oh!
Papa Momoh mi nor die oh!

Alive with roar in praise and worship
Worthless praise and worship
With jigs and gyration
Praise and worship for proxy mortal icons
Not for holy kingdoms of
Prophets, angels and deities

December 31, 2003 -- 11:59:55 pm
Tick! Tuck! Tick! Tuck!…
The grandfather clock, and
Gbongoh! The bells ring again
In successive rhythmic metrical with 'Tick!'

Happy New Year mi nor die oh!
Ah tell God tenki mi nor die oh!
Papa Kab…, a pause from decades of oblivion
Papa Jesus mi nor die oh!
Papa Mohammad mi nor die oh!
Mammy Mary mi nor die oh!

Happy New Year mi nor die oh!
Ah tell God tenki mi nor die oh!
Papa Poro mi nor die oh!
Papa Ojeh mi nor die oh!
Papa Wunde' mi nor die oh!
Mammy Bondo mi nor die oh!


The Lost Sibship

My father was a no-nonsense man.
When he disciplined us, our mothers could only look on.
Woe to a mother who frowned at her child's anguish when he beat
When done, We rubbed palms together and vowed against mischief.
When angry, he walked like he was released off a springboard.
That was terrifying, so I listened well not to be in his way.
He was slender and elegant, and had many wives.
When he did not go to his farms, he stood arms akimbo, outside.
With arms backward, he strode to the court against the morning sun.
Indeed the only days he did not go to the farms—
When he had a case in the courthouse, which he often did.
He sued many in his way; men after his wives and intruders.
He was not protective of his wives because of jealousy.
When fined, culprits who could not afford to pay opted to work for him.
While he used them, he requested refunds for his bridewealth
Which he used to sink the culprits into subjection.
When they performed well, he rewarded them the wives in conflict.
Children born in these relationships, lawfully became his.
Willingly, he accepted and cared for them without qualms.


From Rain to Rain

For several days now it rained
Forcefully at every sunset.
From small, medium to huge cylindrical barrels
From which burst flashing fireballs
In diagonal skyrocketing motion
Lighted the pitch darkness of the sky
Triggered by men dressed for destruction.

Bean size to big bits shrapnel converged
On our corrugated zinc roof.
They condensed upon and melted into it.
Upon every drop we dodged
Mean bit bean size to big shrapnel
Beneath hardwood tables.

Everyday that passed by,
Mamma bought some time.
It was in the middle of August,
And the seven-days-rain would start soon.
Nevertheless, mamma became anxious:
These constant metal pieces ricocheting
Our corrugated zinc roof
Rendered us vulnerable as it rained.

So, mamma led us through the back door
Down the valley across swamps.
We waded through muddy waters
Alongside barbed wire fence.
Across the kimberlitic mining site
Over mounds of red dirt and gravel,
We marched into tick savannah-grass
Deep into the forest that follow
Like ducks on a hot sunny day parade,

Mamma looked up the sky
And muttered;
"Another week could have done it".
For mamma knew this mid August rain
About to begin will pour for seven days.
So, we stopped.

Drenched with dripping drains

In the bamboo and palm thatch makeshift shelter
We quivered as quetzals dipped in cubed water.
Mamma walked around our makeshift shelter
She barren waterways as new-fangled fertile.
And fend off millipedes and centipedes
As the rain got heavy.

We shoved, squeezed and seized tight
Looking for waterless spot and
Looking to keep warm.
As we snoozed off,
Mamma's hand cares and fidgets across
Making sure we were not sick.
From her cares and soft sobbing
We felt the prudence warmth that kept us alive.

Like mamma knew
The rain poured for seven days
Sometimes it poured heavily
Sometime it just drizzled
But everywhen it receded
Like monkeys, we raised up wild fruit trees.
So, we survived the shrapnel and torrential downpours.


Poverty Amidst Gold and Diamonds

Dedicated to my mother and the Kono people of Sierra Leone

Big beefy four-legged creatures
Of metal craps, plastic, and glass
Twist and twine
Gasp and pant
Narrow corners
Dusty and pothole roads
Dust and spatter bystanders and pedestrians

Confined in comfort
Bigheaded pot-like stomach Syria-men
Six inch dark brown logs in mouths
Puffed out tick white smoke
Through half-cracked glass windows
From cozy cages of metal and glass
Finished with luxurious leather upholstery

These are surgeon generals
Whose surgeons tore my mother's bosom
With pickaxes, spades, and shovels
Sifter it filling
Extract nutrients from her mammary gland
Left on roadsides famished


Tears of the Den

Dedicated to Sierra Leone's war victims at home and in Diaspora.

Hollers and howls the den
In anger and agony,
In the bosom of the Mountain,
As the able-bodied cats devoured
The Virgo felines, and
Left the infants famished.
Farther, into far-away concrete jungles
The youthful and talented fled--
Crammed with craze of cruelty,
Tears of affliction coursed their brows,
Hollers and howls the den
In anger and agony
In the bosom of the Mountain.



Its bosom glitters with swords agleam
Its conscience oozes fury
Its bowel delivers evil
Its gorges stream blood
What a grim fate decade