An Ode to Manneh

Am not sure if I should call your name: ‘Chief” again

For I don’t know whether I can recognize you any longer.

As it has taken years since I last saw or hear from you

And from then, you never contacted

But for what reason, am still eager to know,

Especially from those who feared the chieftaincy in your inklings.

Anyway, I will inform you that nothing has changed as expected

The concrete walls of our house have all dilapidated

And now all we can see are the mud holding the bricks

And this leaves me to wonder how long our house could last.

The house now lacks doors and windows;

The ceilings and roof are all gone

And the number of stars above us can be vividly counted;

Our heads are all pillowed with straws

And there is smoke everywhere in the room.

I will inform you that nothing has changed,

Don’t even bother to ask me why:

The streets you left behind are now crowded with beggars,

None of us can afford the staggering prices

And all the hands that can fill the pockets are tied to iron bars;

The little ones that used to play around the streets are no more there

They all moved to the North in torn boats

And most of them, you will never see again;

These ones, never said bye to us but left holes in our hearts,

All we can do to remember them is to share the pounded rice minced with sugar and water.

And for them, am not sure whether we call them: heroes or villains?

I will inform you, oh I forgot, I should whisper it to you

You know why, don’t even ask:

Lay your hands on my chest and feel how my heart throbs

How hard it’s for me to even talk to you

This, you need not to ask me why:

The elephants can’t trumpet anymore; the trunks are being serrated;

And some, their eyes been unplucked.

Those who sustained only bruises from the encounters,

Have  moved to the North; but not assured of their return in winter.

Maybe soon, am still unsure how soon

We could see each other

Maybe this time not in Kachically

But somewhere around Kamalo;

And this time, I maybe sure to call your name: ‘Chief”

And here, we can narrate our sins to each other.

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Published by

Edrissa Ken-Joof

The author is a Ph.D. candidate majoring in Management at Yuan Ze University, College of Management, Taiwan. He has a master's degree in International Affairs and Security Management from Ming Chuan University, Taiwan and a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English from the University of The Gambia.

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