The Sierra Leone Web

 
 

Mohamed Buya Kargbo was born in Kargbuloh village, Lokomassama Chiefdom, Northern Sierra Leone. He attended the Sierra Leone Muslim Congress Boys' Secondary School in Freetown. His aching desire to explore the classical branches of art led him to the world of drama where he co-founded the Gunugunu Theatre in the late 80s, and then became the company's artistic director and playwright. He read for a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at the IMAT College, Guinea. Buya is the co-author of his alma-mater's school song, "Muslim Congress, our pride." He was the recipient of the Editor's Choice Award from poetry.com for his poem, "Freedom of choice."

 

The RUF Rebellion

Rise, Pedro Da Cintra!
Your 1462 discovery, Sierra Lyoa,
Is engaged in a rebel insurgency;
Her diamond mines an emergency.
Battles in the forests and valleys
Shift to towns and cities.
Alien bullies maim, kill,
Plunder and vandalize at will.

The warring factions make
Orphans and widows in every raid;
Cut short fragrant dreams
And amputate limbs;
Defile children and mothers
And conscript them in their numbers;
Teenage girls in anguish
Are abused and left to languish.

Freetown suffers a prison break,
Hard core criminals hastily make
Their way to the rebel side;
But it's not an easy ride.
Decomposed bodies lie everywhere,
Deadly infernos dance here and there;
Tongues of fire lick the night sky,
Even people under ECOMOG's wing cry.

Conflict and disaster managers,
Show compassion for these stanzas;
War-torn kids are everywhere,
Villages are today a nightmare;
Amputees agitate for
War compensations or
Are we crying in open-air
Only to be heard loud and clear?

A Village Boy Goes to Freetown

This poem takes a retrospective view of the first trip I made from my village, Kargbuloh, to Freetown, and the bitter-sweet memories Freetown held for me.

At seven with my dad-guide,
I made the first trip
From my village to Freetown.
From the sea, the green sierra
Smiled radiantly at me –
No dwelling-places,
No tilled lands,
No bush fires,
No flying ashes –
Reminiscent of my village.
As the sun parched ground nuts,
A land-boat rowed-rocked me to
Places and my eyes' thirst quenched.
Bathing in the joy of my
New-fun-land,
An air-boat roared past - enormous
And soaring - sending me
Panicking and panting;
Suddenly, I was in my
Grandma's lap - my village fortress.
Yet, amazed by sky houses,
Jumping beds, cold-box water,
Hanging water wells, bottle eyes,
Blood-coated lips, tiptoe shoes
And wind-rotating machines,
I braced up for a no-return
To elusive dreams.
Night fell over the white man's
Lamp and I watched moving
Corpses on the first lighted box.

Freedom Forever

The low inner voice,
I will forever listen.
Its yes is my yes,
Its no, my no.
I am the wisdom teeth,
I know chalk from cheese.
I am the beach rock that kisses
Goodbye to every tide and season.
I love to be my poems' poet,
Accountable only to myself.
When I am gone,
You can have your fun.
Life is a game of choice –
Good or ill –
I will manage the outcome.
So, let me be!
Slavery lasted for decades,
Freedom lasts forever.

Till the Dollar Do Us Part

This poem is a wake-up call for women who intend to abandon their male partners and children for the almighty dollar offered by rich men at home and abroad.

Black woman!
Woman of Africa!
Woman I once prized,
Loved and tended.
In glee I recall our nuptial tie
At the prime of life, amidst
Wagging tongues and prying eyes.
Yet, we steeled against
Frowns of fortune and moved on.
At the height of conjugal bliss and
Two sprouting plants to match,
You sacrificed virtue for vice;
Scorning the red light.
An old chap from far away
Through the clouds broke,
Waving the almighty dollar
In your face.
Falling for the trick,
You strangled your vow
And broke camp.
Today, the older plant's consumed
And no other to stand its place,
Your cash-tied union
On quick sand lies,
And you – a sad, ageing spent force.
Take heart, woman;
But you were warned.

Voices of Sierra Leonean Refugees

June 20 is World Refugee Day,
A day to commemorate, anyway;
We recall our smooth rosy past
Whose ebbing freshness so fast;
The future no longer holds hope
Other than a sad frail rope;
We look down before we hang
Lest we should fall with a bang.

Discrimination hovers like a cloud,
Alarm bells we must sound;
Basic human needs are just a dream
In alien lands we dare not scream;
No jobs to keep us busy
And that makes life very uneasy;
Victims of arbitrary detention
Recount awful tales of persecution.

Cruel eyes and insults everywhere,
Daily keep us in deep-rooted fear;
Thrown at us are vulgar names
That hurt like slavery chains.
Women and girls trade flesh for cash,
Their health clearly lies on a marsh;
Unwanted pregnancies abound
Just as death bells daily sound.

A murdered refugee we can't shun,
His meekness was second to none;
Alpha Osman Kanu was his name -
A teacher and sportsman of hot fame;
Justice to his name was not done,
His murderers clearly the day won;
Nightingales shall his memory sing in
Forests and cities from Lima to Beijing.

To the political class back home -
Do they rejoice in seeing us roam?
They took part in ceasing our clause,
Ignore returnees without pause;
No border point transit centre,
Every refugee is their own keeper;
Could we offer them some advices
Or leave them to their own devices?

Voting conducted freely and fairly
Engenders peace, love and unity;
Bending the laws for political gain,
Poses acute constitutional strain;
Prolonging a president's mandate
May trigger off inter-ethnic hate;
Ethnic dominance fed to the core
May give birth to a civil war.

African Leader

You promise us the moon
And spit venom
At your political rivals as though
You have all the answers. .
We're the people – the kingmakers –
Calling you to attention!
Must we tread daily on ashes
Of dreams set ablaze?
Living skeletons we are now
But resign to fate we will not.
Like the phoenix, our dreams
Will rise again.
Yet, here and there, you lead us
In crude defence of your sham
Election manifesto.
When on the driver's seat,
You twist and turn and blame
Dead regimes all your wrongs.
You rob our pie and make
Its baker the keeper.
You tread the Machiavellian path
To grip tightly and
Tailor the rules to the game.
What is more - you crave to
Lie-in-state.
Remember – we are not
Spring chickens.
All of the time, some you can
Deceive;
Some of the time, all you can
Deceive;
But all of the time, all you can't
Deceive.
Recoil if you will,
For your towering thirst
The Arab Spring will quench.

A Dream of Death

At the witching hour,
I fade off to sleep.
In my dream,
I depart this life.
At crack of dawn,
Frantic weeping and wailing
In my ears incessantly drum.
In the flood of tears I stand –
Passive
Watching
Listening
As sympathizers and imposters
Stare past my food for worms.
Funeral dirges, cash support,
Condolence messages,
Warm tributes,
All pour down like rain
And debtors at ease feel as
Creditors in the wings wait.
Inside me, a cacophony of voices
My verses recite: "Open the chest!"
The voices yell. "From a thread we
Now hang and non of the poet's flesh
And blood can inherit. Liberate us!
We need a sanctuary."
Shrouded in white, my corpse lies
Like a felled sapling;
Heavily scented and powdered,
Nostrils and ears plugged
And face pointing to the sky
Like sunlight-begging leaves.
The usual exit hour strikes.
Six sturdy right-hands lift my dust,
And I watch the procession
Negotiate a one-way curve.