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 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
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.

Letter To My American Friend

Dear friend,
The day I scanned your
Non - African stamp,
Poverty, suffering and disease
Were enchained,
Freedom, education and opulence

You be the chariot and I the horse,
I offered you my physical shadow.
Nightfall was our separator,
Dawn our joiner.

Minutes before you wore wings,
You lit in me the long
Extinguished lamp
My Imprisoned dreams.

Weeks and months passed by,
No call drummed my ear;
But like the Pope or Imam
Or Dalai Lama,
I kept praying, hoping;
Waiting to receive the rose.

When I could no longer wait,
For I believe your cadillac car
Had run over my dream,
I murdered the thought.

Turn back time -
I was the umbilical cord
Joined to your foetus.
Today, reciprocity for you
Is COVID-19.

Hard you work to get rich,
Hard I work to get poor.
In the end,
On equal footing we'll be -
Richer you shall be,
Poorer I shall be.

International Women's Day

African women,
You're fine fragile fragments
Emanating from the rib
Like women elsewhere.
Your bear a beauty
That pierces rocks,
Skins as soft as fur,
Voices that awake
Sleeping souls.

African women,
Like the stoics,
You suffer pain in silence.
Trek long paths barefooted,
Fetch cool tadpole water,
Cut wood from the deep,
Prepare meals in the rain,
Endure babies' sleepless nights,
Honour carnal pleasure calls.

African women,
This isn't your day.
Men don't greet kneeling down,
They don't tidy up the bed,
They don't prepare breakfast,
They don't carry babies,
They don't go to the farms,
They don't wash dirty clothes,
They don't spare this day in bed,

African women,
Get up and agigate for change.
Choose your own date
When men will bow in greeting,
When they willl prepare meals,
When they will care for babies,
When they will tend the farms,
When they will do the washing,
When you'll say no in bed.


You thrive best in Africa -
A fertile breeding ground
Where the affluent don't share
What they crush or grind or pound.
You're the malaria that takes a toll
On the less-priveledged majority,
Without a call or knock or all.
A woe-sharer you are, for certainty!
Give Africa back her liberty!

You daily ravage conjugal families
Making infidels of fidel couples,
And children prone to street fancies.
Hunger and thirst make bubbles
In the faces of family members;
Children go to rundown schools
Or turn dropouts or ghetto-goers.
Everywhere are poverty whirlpools.
Give Africa back her liberty!

You engender diseases, child labour,
Teenage pregnancy, prostitution,
And substance abuse that disfavour
societal growth and expansion.
Beggars and homeless vagabonds
Along main streets toss throw lines,
To catch fish from robust ponds.
This they do to beat hard times.
Give Africa back her liberty!

You're man-induced and put to test.
Termites govern their colonies devoid
Of insecurity, starvation and thirst,
African leaders won't fill the void.
When shall Africa be poverty-free?
Now, she looks frail and pale
As colonialism stands under the tree
Waiting to see her fail.
Give Africa back her liberty!

Death In The Mediterranean Sea

I hang like a rain-pregnant cloud;
Shedding tears upon rooftops
For the Land that I love.
I brave the bumpy road
To earthly bliss; the legs of
Cockcrow my companions.
Fragrant forests fade
Into an ocean of grass;
Then, a sea of sand.
The dry dusty wind wails
11. A premonition tune - baffling!

The eyes of dawn open
To a group of cameleers;
The word 'rape' on their faces
Written with the blood of virgins.
"Stop or you'll feel the heat;"
Rings their warning shot
In a language that is Latin to me.
I beat my heels hard like a rider
On horseback; taking solace
From head footprints. Yet I lose
22. The battle for chastity.

Now at the crossroads,
I must either turn back or
Grab the tail of the Shark
To get to the Dolphin.
As I wrestle over the choice,
The sea breeze wraps
Arms of call around my neck;
And western waves wash
The African filth off my feet.
Good omens, like ripe guava,
33. Smell sweet. I'll go for Gold.

Furious now the sea is;
Buffeting the Shark incessantly,
And I lose my grip.
No Dolphin in sight,
No straw to cushion my fright.
I'm a bait on the hook of fate's
Fishing line; the sinker racing
To the Mediterranean seabed.
Mother! I hear your ... pitiful call.
I've turned the ... curve ... already.
44. Hail me now. Fly my flag full; and...

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
Remember – we are not
Spring chickens.
All of the time, some you can
Some of the time, all you can
But all of the time, all you can't
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 –
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.

Rejoice Me

I have my say on the mike,
I play freely on the stage,
I write unchecked on the slate.
So, when my ripe fruit falls,
Raise not an eyebrow;
For it's a purpose fulfilled.
Hear me now!
Dry the river in your eyes
And rejoice me.
Rejoice me
Not for my silver coin
But for my well-bred beings;
Not for my Samaritan heart
But for the minds I've carved;
Not for my rainbow friends
But for my dagger-pen.
Let my plays,
My poems,
My lyrics,
Pronounce in your place
When my back's turned.
Hear me now!
Throw my plays,
My poems,
My lyrics,
To the embers.
Strew the powder remains on
My eternal bed,
So that I, the creator,
And the created will rejoin.
That done, my food for worms
Shall enduring peace find.

The Plight Of A Woman

When my cocao pod
Was ripe for harvesting,
My mother threw me
A caustic note:
"Love men, hate schooling."
I knew she meant otherwise:
"Hate men, love schooling;"
Words I cherished to the peak.

When I met my first love,
I laid the words to rest;
Resurrecting my mother's.
He was my skylark,
My first commandment.
Ill-equipped for paternity,
I sacrificed four foetuses
At the surgeon's alter.

Now that the knot's tied,
My womb may now charge.
Healers play the game
But score no point.
I walk the path of cowries
And clairvoyance,
Showing no remorse for
Eating the forbidden fruit.

At birth of dawn, I wear a
Smile-masked sorrow that
Crumbles in the face of
Eight blood-dripping eyes;
Turning my days into nights,
My nights, monsters.
Now, no heir to bequeath
My empire of fortune.

The joy of motherhood
Is for me a launched arrow -
Adoption can't turn it back,
Forgeting it can't
Put it to flight.
Who will wear my
Sadness for cash?
Or any safe haven to go to?

The Undisclosed Word

I met her yesterday
Or was it this morning?
At a glance,
She was a picture;
In full view,
She was a woman.
Her green memory I still hold:
Her face a beauty restaurant,
Drawing long successive queues;
Even the blind in her beauty
Sensed the light,
The deaf, the vibration.
From crown to sole,
Her elegance imposed.
As time ticked away,
I hankered for this Mermaid
The feel of the rarely felt.
On the tongue of my heart
lay love overtures,
But delivery was unnerved.
I took a body language trip:
Touching the sweaty palms,
Brushing off specks of dust,
Patting the back,
Drawing arrow-pierced hearts
To replace the undisclosed word.
Yet, smiles and headshakes
And feigned innocense
Spoke in her place.
Hard I tried as I could,
My romantic thirst
Unquenched remained;
Maybe because she was
The grain and I the chaff.
Accepted or rejected,
She was, and still is,
A beauty poem.

COVID-19 Song

Who will sing with me
The dirge of the century?
The sun has gone down,
We still wear the thorn crown.
Daily emits deadly pus,
Great economies
Are today on their knees
Hear my call, coronavirus!
You're so monstrous!
You threaten the human race
You'll soon lose face.

Has robbed me of my force;
I hardly think straight
And I'm battling with weight.
I lost my father
In America.
I lost my mother
In Canada.
Can you fill these vacuums?
You can't buy the perfumes.
I'd rather live my life
Free from daily strife.

You're wild and monstrous.
You've offered no cure,
We're forced to endure.
My brother died in Spain,
My sister in Ukraine.
"Human corona"
People call me everywhere.
Coronavirus, can you showcase
What's in your briefcase?
I want to know before sunrise;
You'll have a Nobel Prize.

In this deadly war,
We must wear the best armour;
The sanitary barriers
Must be our frontiers;
Will tire and bow to force;
We'll break its mighty wings
Before queens and kings.
The loss of lives shall cease,
We'll restore lasting peace.
Nations wili once again dream
The way to the stream.

On My Graduation Day

Friends and relatives
On my graduation day
To rejoice my win.
Seven female friends,
In turns, they take the stage,
To play their roles.
M'balu gives me
A tight hug;
A peck on the cheek;
A thumbs up sign;
A radiant smile;
A pat on the back;
A palm-tickling gesture;
Dalanda, the seventh,
Stops short;
Giving me a fixed look.
Yet, M'balu's tight hug,
Is a heart warmer;
Bendu's peck on the cheek,
A dress rehearsal;
Kattie's thumbs up sign,
A stubborn inspiration;
Adama's radiant smile,
A star in my night's sky;
Yvonne's pat on the back,
A moral booster;
Sia's palm-tickling gesture,
A rendez-vous tonight;
But Dalanda's fixed look
Is my second shadow -
A lifetime obsession.