The Sierra Leone Web

  Mohammed Lamin Mansaray is from Kossoh Town, in Freetown's east end. He has been an IT specialist for over 29 years. He has lived and studied in the U.K., France and Nigeria. In 1989 he joined ECOWAS and is head of the Technical Development Section at the Community Computer Centre in Lomé, Togo. He writes poems "from time to time as and when the inspiration comes."  


Earth-Warming Blues

I do not know much about Science,
Nor understand this el niño phantom
That has wreaked havoc – with hailstorm,
Thunder and brimstone – on a Somalia
That bleeds from nature’s relentless throes!

Again, I do not know much about Science
Or indeed these nascent earth–warming blues;
But I say shame on you O homo sapiens!
As you criss-cross inter-galactic highways!

Yes, I don’t know much about Science,
And indeed too little about market forces
To reconcile how this potent phenomenon
Has come to deform nature’s own eco-system
From the wasting gains of commerce and industry.

Will it soon become a matter of choice
Between Science and nature’s true Wisdom
Or between Technology and nature’s own tools ?
Sadly, as we journey forth into time’s timelessness,
I am left confused about man’s fabled Science-ness !


Greener Pastures

Hey brother-man
There goes our young yet again
In plane-loads of wasting labour
Searching for much greener pastures!

But hey brother-man
Why are they going?
If just to clean the floors
Of factories and stores
In such intemperate climes?

Hey brother-man
I sure am going soon,
And won’t wait for another day!
Soon this wretched land of ours
In volcanic outrage and torment
Shall explode to re-enact a Rwanda!

Hey brother-man!
Must we search in vain
For a day’s morsel in distant lands?
Toil in dismal circumstance
Shedding tears in wanton abandon?
Tell me, must the blackman’s indignation
Never cease for lack of faith and sheer despair?

And tell me something:
Of what value is your patriotism
To a mother-land rendered barren
In times forlorn, when might meant right?
When Africa’s progeny ripe in their prime
Departed her shores as human merchandise
In the dungeons of many a trader’s slave-ship?

Tell me brother-man
Of what value is my patriotism?
To a father-land left so enfeebled
By a rulership of shameless appetite
For cheap wines, sprits and tobacco.
With which Africa’s sons and daughters
Were mindlessly exchanged into servitude?

A progeny, once in bondage,
Is driven by the slave-master’s whip
To procreate through sheer recreation.
Thus many a human machine ploughed,
And tended vast fields of rice, maize and tuber
In the farthest deepest south of a nascent America!

And hey brother-man
Can you see them come south
As our youth keep trudging up North?
They arrive in droves as pilgrims to a shrine,
Much curious to see the stage posts of yore.
Where not unlike cattle-heads in a Texan ranch,
Our men and women were once herded in chains!

So, brother-man
I am staying right here,
For some things that glitter
Can be very far from golden.
Let the dignity of man reign supreme
For only that way can he ever hope to show
Great promise and tenacity of body and soul!


Being & Becoming

Time, it seems, became for all else to become,
Through Change the arbiter of life's existence.
Being is thus an endless chain of becomings
That Change changes in a seeming permanence!
So, if my being-ness ceases only to become,
Then, please tell me where do I go from here?

Methinks my essential being upon becoming,
Owes not its existence to my appearance.
For Nature has chosen to reify my being,
Both as a trap, and a vehicle of endurance!
So, if my being-ness ceases only to become,
Then, please tell me where do I go from here?

Alas! Whatever endures is only a frozen visual
Oblivious of Change and its persisting ritual!
But my real essence must be defiant and prevail
Even if being and becoming must compete in vain.
For, if my being-ness became only to cease,
Then, please tell me why did I become at all?


Ode to Truth

Honestly Truth, you can be so simply simple,
That you really must do more to be credible.
You’re stealthy, indifferent and smack of pride!
Your noblesse ensnares, your victims don't thrive.
So, must you really insist on men’s will to choose
Between a surreal mind and a sensuous living body?

Honestly Truth, its time you took the flak,
For being too shifty, and not a true benchmark.
Your appearance changes with each context
Yet you insist upon essence and much precept.
Its a shame that the meek and humble suffers,
Because their truth forgets that men do differ.
So, might you not be an ideal sought after in vain?

Quite frankly Truth, you can be a painful dream,
Though some say you alone can set men free!
You seem to lurk around with feeble musings
Tirelessly urging men into utopian dithering.
So, tell me where lies the will in freewill,
And the wisdom in men’s self-denying zeal,
When remorse is all you desire for your trials?


My Venerable Guest

Sometimes I wonder, my venerable guest,
Why your toll-free stay must be so fleeting
In such a beautifully crafted house that I am?
An edifying artifice of awesome gait and form,
So magnificently woven into the marvel you adore.

Sometimes I wonder, my venerable guest,
Why I must first desire, before I can think
As if appetite is of greater virtue than reason.
Whenever desire’s pangs feel like a sinking burden,
You promptly abandon ship, no matter how well-laden.

Sometimes I too wonder, my endearing landlord,
Why, despite my relentless urges and silent nudges,
Your dear friend desire must strive to ensure your ruin.
So, I fear, even-if you knew a trifle more about my being,
You may conquer desire, only to worship the idol that is reason.

So, why the bother, my endearing landlord,
When, despite Nature’s abiding love and care,
Your beautiful home is but of a corporal veneer?
My brief is to share in both your glory and travails
And, in an instant, hurry back to where my ethos prevails!


Celebrated Anarchies

Liberty, Freedom and Justice!
Is many a soldier’s refrain,
when a Caesar must die
For the land to be free.

Equality, Peace and Unity!
Is often the clarion call
When one man slays another’s kinsman
To proclaim victory over injustice.

And so in a post-modern world
Where the Mighty and powerful
Subsists from the toil and travails
Of the weak and listless majority
Celebrated Anarchies now prevail.

Consider dear old Mother Africa
From Cairo to the Cape Province
And from the Cassamance to Somaliland
Have we not seen some celebrate death,
While others contemplate life’s nihilism?

Liberty, Freedom and Justice
Do I hear you cry in the grave
of many an unsung hero of yore
While you celebrate this nascent terror?

Equality, Peace and Unity
Have you now come to re-visit
A distraught and bewildered Angola
So that you may rekindle hope’s hopefuls?

Liberty, Freedom and Justice
Three of man’s fervent ideals,
You once eluded the human kind
When industry meant slave labour!

Equality, Peace and Unity
Three of nature’s greatest hopes,
You now deny the space-age man
His dream of self-determination.

Today its a Haiti!
Tomorrow a Burundi!
A Bosnia! a Chechnya!
A Liberia! and a Sierra Leone!

Liberty! Freedom! and Justice!
Equality, Peace and Unity
Please hear our cry
And stem the tide
Of our riotous celebrations!


These Times of Anguish...

Alas! Come and gone is the year 2000
That saw the dawn of the much awaited
Twenty-first century !
A dawn that seemed to hold great promise
For good health, food, education, the lot!
Yet even if this was no more than a dream,
We have no doubt seen the end of an era
When men sank into a culture of violence.

For these are anguished times
When the teeming masses
Of dear old mother Africa
Suffer from the contempt and scorn
Of those from rich and powerful lands!
But, patiently she trudges on
With her twin-problem of identity
And self-determination,
In a world whose culture is violence.

Yet as the year 2000 came and went
The degeneracy of our times persist
Unrelenting in its journey to nihilism!
No doubt, humanity shall forever enshrine
The liberty of a free post-modern man
Whose yardstick for value and justice
Has far less to do with precepts
Than with this nascent culture of violence.

Alas! these are trying times
For a very feeble mother-land
To fend for her teeming millions.
And whose security in numbers
The rich now insists on curbing,
In the name of population explosion!
Oblivious of earthquakes and man-made disasters
That seemingly account, through natural wastage,
For nature’s share of this culture of violence.

Sooner still came the year 2000
When sirens and horns heralded anew,
A dawn of great hopes and promise.
The chip technology has come of age,
In a global enterprise called cyberspace,
That creates a huge divide between the info-rich
And the world’s toiling masses on the info-bypass
Who sadly perish from this raving culture of violence.


Life & The Living

O Life! and the living, Who exactly are you?
An illusory creature that is self-consuming
Or some inert object that energises the living?
Your ethereal mien leaves men with little hope
Of deciphering what they insist are mere codes,
Whose keys have come with the information age!

O Life! and the living, What exactly are you?
Perhaps a machine whose greater essence
May not be fully grasped by your existence.
Methinks that you are but a glittering fancy,
Whose shine succumbs in a manner so uncanny,
When your vital but mortal host must self-destruct!

O Life! and the living, Whence exactly are you?
Most are quick to say, you are nature’s artifice
Though many a skeptic insists, you merely evolve.
The Creationist simply submits to your intrigues,
While the brave and free-thinking is firmly resolved,
To sustain his quest for unraveling your first Cause!


This Season’s Harvest

Poor Mother Africa, ever looking so tattered and torn,
From having lost your vainglorious pride of yore.
Why have you such teeming millions to nurture
Without a grain, rain or much greener pasture?
Please let this not be another harvest of violence!

Poor Mother Asia, ever so fertile, and rich in candour
Your billions balloon as they celebrate your valour!
Know you not where and how to wander and ponder
About your progeny’s sworn commitment to ignorance?
Please let this not be another harvest of violence!

Poorer still are you, Ms Brave-new-World of our times
Who knows not want, yet so much more in dire need!
Please rest assured the essential man in men will thrive,
Even if his mortal self insists upon fratricidal defiance,
Thinking that you, and you alone will harvest his wanton violence!