I will come by the sunrise
By that tender path of my granddad’s fjord.
O my succulent avocado lingering under the eyes of a traversing light of transition
What receptors there lay to embrace the sun’s exposure?
What arts or fingers smooths your nudity?
Your taste I see like a mango’s juice
Or shall I say: the palm wine tapper’s chilly liquor drenching down a gourd’s mouth;
And him, he haunting to leak the leached ones but tongue-less like a snail.
I will come by the sunrise
To ease my pride upon that sharp blindness, the light to embalm my soul
To pride for being a tributary of the great sea of Sangamar;
That tributary leading to Joal and to the breast of the encysted Palmarine.
I will come by the sunshine
Peeping through the haze and see whether it is that,
That which I saw in dawn’s youth
Me, I or else: but like a second-old egg enshrined within the pillion of a spongy envelope,
Being traversed across your quadrilaterals like the nanas of ancient Ghana.
Music, love, blooms and a helm of freshness
From the Atlantic and River Sine, I will have my being molded into.
Feel it and I counter the scaly brows of your night and read through the furrows there from formed.
Then I shall be acquainted with knowing trust:
Embracing the sweetness in being cherished by a motherly palm,
Being branded for belonging,
And not like a society’s dropout; the voiceless servant of hallucination,
That struggling being, vagabonding.
Who therein censors how muscular an un-ravished melon’s seeds will be,
Or the brightness of death?
I will, I will by the pestering sun
And gaze through the opaqueness or the translucence therewith it alienates itself to.
Oh Juma! The spirit of a dove’s heart
Your palms, I heard are coined:
A brilliant horizon approaching,
Fervent embroidery surfacing the earth
And there, there, see those sprouting greens
See the brand of air produced therein
And know how life thaws or crystallizes.
I don’t know what kind of phalanges…ah! What hands touched you to be you;
Lean than the tissues in a baby’s cheeks.
In sight I see a mother and on her laps, slumbering babies
With their mouths plugged to her nipples
While the bosom of the night,
Opaque than a grave’s walls.
But still you I dream of
Harboring a many of my kind: Withering tomboys without even a loophole to salvage themselves,
But am told that you,
That the crest of your arms are impotent to bruise a fetus’ cord
That I know not but can I sense in you;
But I will see; experiment and tongue.
Juma I will taste with my wholeness.
What a joy there
Embedded right here, in my bewildering mind.
The pulses are yearning for your eternity
In them are two thumbs, playing the Kora
Two pointers and the rest, little fillers rescuing the heart of loneliness
And embalming it with the lyrics there-from:
The airs carried out by those twenty-one cajoling strings of the djali,
The breeze carrying these solemn un-forecasted melodies,
Solaces the swiftness of the trees, their branches and leaves
Blazing like the noon sun
And one sees how transparent their tiny legs are;
Creating dust bowls amidst the triumphant crowd.
Listen, listen keenly my dear
To my tumbling throbbing heart
To the poems for Sangamar-
That winnower undressing the chaff.
If the verses can sing,
Let the wind dance with you
And I, to lay my nose by the wind’s path
And feed by the perspiration of your alveoli.
What sensation is behind a light bag’s weight?
Trust, truth, justice or prejudice
Or the abomination of such sureties of pronouncing it:
In us, the men we have now are not us,
The pulses of men have melted;
Their services, are valueless than a tobacco butt.
We live, less flaccid than a sponge,
Our purses, we gossip,
And our palms, we know not the sum of their lines,
And we care not to know either,
Everywhere is the sprouting skeletons.
Ours, I mean those fleshes, we no more conceive
And the bloods, their bloods, painting our faces
Yet, we utter not a breath
But to dine on our ancestors’ weaknesses:
The cold silence we chose;
Barren of words;
But the trend of remaining deaf and dumb
Will eat up our tissues.
One by one, our turns are closing the wilderness.
Yesterday we cried to wipe out our occupants
And today, we yearn to get back ourselves
And we have ours by ourselves
But have we accomplished our mission?
Our poems of negritude;
We chanted the names like Foroyaa-
In the streets
In the swollen factories
Even on our deathbeds.
But, we ourselves, we hate most.
We hunt each other day and night,
We hunt not broilers, but our own layers;
We refute by the pulses of twilight not the cola nuts, but our own eggs.
Tell me Juma, is this what we longed for?
For we said we are our own peace?
Leaning towards destruction, we need not raise eyebrows
To broth an enlightened man
But we know why hearts tumble or pulsate
And why we taste our own lymph fluids…
The sap feeding the faces,
Or those salty waters drowning our skulls,
Through the profuse perforations.
Tell me Juma, how succulent can there be seen
Of the paces and phases,
Walking against the leeward habitations
And caging the breast of the yearned mountains flourishing with fountains.
There then can we embrace the tentacles of being in exile,
A lace of menace
That waif. A man.
None will bewilder for the least when the tones of home chorus
Beautiful songs of whistling palm leaves, of the black ants’ lyrics;
And of the pelicans’ chants.
Facing the reality is a dirty realm:
In packing all our belongings
To part with the melted time.
In myself is no more the self
But a motherless-lamb bleating.
The airs, too soft to carry its melodies
And no ear within an inch away to sense the lyrics behind its gyres.
What herdsman’s corroded sickle serrated the lymph of its mom’s breasts?
What warm milk shall the babe fetch from life?
Juma, the lamb is my retrospect
And in the blind mirror
I see sorrow bathing my innocent face,
Its shadow, crystallizing my effrontery.
It is time I know
It is its turn, am sure,
That saddened moment to abreast our faces ahead but with our eyes behind,
Refocusing on them,
The land, the leaving, the route, oh abandoning the land we knew by birth:
It’s like blinking ones naked eyes in a pool of pepper.
See the river traversing my eyes’ bosom
And see how rocky the deserts are to leach them.
Why can’t oases sprout there from?
But see; see how pregnant the brows’ bellies are
And see how dry the sobbing cheeks remain:
Lest with the white traces of the waterways
Tattooing them to embrace man’s grief
Which by far is never blessed with even a hair?
Even a hair of beauty.
Juma, facing the reality is a dirty realm,
The sun has burnt all my glands
And in you, only you, I have seen
A flowing stream smoothing itself on a barb of fire;
Juma, cherish the commensurate,
Will the stream or the fire die out?
Or the fire will gulp him in her groaning mouth?
Juma, O Juma Ndela.
The blazing sponge, my being, and the stream your nerves.
Then embrace my nakedness
And let me slumber in your porch like a day-old kangaroo under the turmoil of winters’ blast furnace,
That deadly harmattan breathe,
What a tap on a brother’s back,
What a grim in a foe’s teeth.
The paces of time have surrendered their breaths
Upon another page
That some may there see
And the others, facets of darkness.
Yet those chanced with sight,
Wrong pages may be turned
Or the right pages, afresh.
But onto us between
None should in accordance taste of Lake Sleep:
Of the sins incurred
And the blessings acquired,
While the lines of the college, the shoal carried us through
So as to tally all the triumph
In death and beauty.
Feel the skulls of my eyes
And know the rivers therein; their fringes
Overflowing and the sands, pore-less;
The distance, an ejection of blurred worlds:
Their angles juxtaposed.
What brain lies by the smoothed way?
That carries a heart of dejection?
A menorah with mouths embodied by a mass of molten magma
And the tongue, leaking the snaking redness of the earth, the virgin volcanic liquor.
The time we had, shall we say has been seized by age,
For whatever breathes, wilts alongside,
See the simulation thereby
Then we, the beings are counting for ourselves
But the cow never knows how many furs forfeit the liberty of a fly?
So are our days.
Yet we know, we see how the flowers
Bloom and by noon they wither
And by the wisdom behind beauty,
We know, how it replenishes without the night’s permission to it.
Long, long myth
Long it might be encountered,
A journey to emancipate that feeble vent in my heart.
The mars we heard of is not that we have in our hands
And that moon, shining, nowadays takes not a blink to answer to our calls,
And we resort on it and feel rumbles aligning it.
For time, we heard
And time we know and have.
Does there lay any illicitness by his ageing?
Lest of his passage to mark the energetic faces of history.
Those that come to light must pass through the gates of nothingness.
But he, we know well, censors the breath of every event.
So Juma, my silk linen pyjama,
Count the pulses that pass through the airs saluting you.
And there, on a day, on a second,
You will see my pride relaxing in your boughs.
Long, long myth
Long it might take
A journey to emancipate that feeble vent in my heart.
Long, long have its manifesto aloud been read by history:
That a plank is never a crocodile
Even when waters turn soil;
And that, my Juma, am sure of.
Juma, my bloom, Juma Ndela
Will I sing?
I will sing a song ever crafted by man
They say she sings, that Yandeh Codu,
And they say he attends to her as if in paradise, that Sedar, that kinsman, that poet;
But Juma, my poems for you,
The lyrics of this wadding poet,
This drunken djali,
Will float the mountains of your crest.
This song, will sweetness itself gossip.
All, but for your nobility.
The patience you bear to listen to these coarse voices of my mucus less throat.
The suffrage, the frustration, the pledge, our appeals;
All you bear on your sturdy back.
And there I will lie
We will dwell
We will dine,
And those weak ones among us,
Will equally bask under your life-rendering sun.
O Juma Ndela, Juma room me to sing.
With my khalam
The four strings’ dancing will my keen fingers regulate;
And the smoothed paces of her affluence will flutter along in the coy air
Like a gulp of water passing through a tasty vagabond’s throat.
See the dance in the stars
And the smiles of the moon.
The pelicans, the herons, and the flies
Sharing the delight in your being.
And then the tone, thundering
For that staggering calabash, mastering its succulent task within that salt-water
Fixed in a basin twice its size.
My left hand seizing a side of its necklace
Then pulling it up-and-down
While the right with a thumb-size finger ring around the neck of the pointer.
Rattling upon its head.
Chai wai! Juma Ndela!
Chai wai lady!
Listen to that emotion,
How its melancholy mixes with the khalam and the concoction of instruments.
Listen, listen my Juma
Still to my energetic music:
The sabarr speaking and praising alongside my chants
For Jajan Njai
For Leo Sedar
For Jilanka Jola
For Gaindeh Njai
Listen, Hai! Listen my Juma
Time is rolling by
And my being, decaying over the withering seconds.
And the finale
Of the fine-feather-chorus
Echoing from those mermaids of the drenching seas whose rhymes asleep a lion.
Hai! Chai Juma!
A man never is a woman
But other souls convert.
Chai woman! You are a man in our hearts.
Of you, the earth’s hands clap and its mouth dilates; and its tongue salivates
What then have I other than this little poem?
This scanty poem roving for words.
My Juma, my pearl under the tropical noon.
The music has talked
The fine palms of gods entrusted on man
Will never be frail in validity.
The music sang itself
A song bitter than the love I have for myself
And the sand dunes behind your crest
Snaking around your emissaries
Dancing alongside the poor stanzas I have bounty of for you.
If I chanced still, I shall sail through it once more
And see how sour the tunes will reactivate your slumber-of-life.
Then ear keenly
And sit upon the shoulders of your bay
And eye majestically
How my songs’ frequencies
Are making your waters too to dance
And the fish too
And the sailors.
Juma! Oh the Juma of my mind!
I will surely come
As a pedestrian, then a hawker,
To market your tag throughout,
As far as to Walo,
I will travel, even if I am to dine on only moldy bread crumbs on the way,
Or to eat only salivated remnants of the bony dogs, I will travel;
I will come
I still will by sunshine;
Sailing through a troughed stem of gonga tree,
With my two palms as oars
And a sac from my shirt as my engine
And the wind, a soul fuel to energize my homecoming.
Juma I will come even if my coat fumbles and my boat tumbles,
It will stagger
It will shiver
But headlong will I sail
‘Till I meet the beards of Sangamar
And will therein sing again
I will sing that little, that feeble, that wordless song in me.
So my Juma,
Ear my coarse tongue’s fables.
Listen to the sibilant silence,
Ear my throbbing heart,
Eye the confusion of the African cupboard,
Of the forgery in personality
Of the misinterpreted cultural orientation
Of my sober gesture:
The calabash within the water
Their ways of playing
The chants of crickets for burrs,
The concoction of Arabic, British, French and American attires,
Which one carries my identity?
Then feel those iambs of the lyrics with your tender skin as lean meat.
Like the stream of blood that afloat my fire-river.
See how it sinks!
To journey that distance farther my life
Then seeing the bare sands in your lungs
Facing the streamlining waves downing
Like a gliding snake on a sheet of greased glass.
Which blood is denser?
Which lymph is thicker?
Which solution outpaces
Yours or mine?
Yet, the lane of hatred,
The stream of blasphemy,
The catastrophe of coal-on-coal,
Our butchering of one another,
Runs deeper than those kind waters piercing through the stomachs of our farmlands.
Juma look at us
We of the same breed but separated by that artificial line on a map;
Look at us, seeds haunted from the same bed
I mean breathing the same airs shimmering from the Futa D’jallon to the Atlantic;
But see how divided we have become
When they drew a line between us;
A barrier coagulates our lives
That barricade of: Being a citizen of one artificial boundary,
The law, we have with us to separate us forever;
To create hatred among us for traversing that boundary
When I sit to watch destiny’s paces
I sense a blurred path
A naked burrow
Wherein my seedlings too will be minced into
Like granite in a well-seasoned concrete,
As of those arching my blood streams,
Controlling the beatings of the warm-hearted-throbs;
A cell with mosquitoes to spread the intoxication on them;
Then to the others;
Even any that a pint of my blood will run through.
All of two malformations: an undefined citizenry; and a lost cultural insurance.
Even though I know everything about this land; about them; about their forefathers,
Nothing is a secret to my being:
The sensual lines;
The customary frames;
The choirs’ songs;
The town criers’ drumming;
The humming bees’ prayers;
The howling owls’ hoots;
The donkeys’ brays;
The corrosive voices of thunders;
The congested sounds of the lightening;
The waggle dances of worker bees;
But I will still ask you, my Juma, is any mine?
Then there should be no cultural barricade;
No political syndrome or attire;
Should ahead be tagging us like a notched cow
Drowned in a herd of a million heads
Yes! Five out of one million heads
Both as black as the blood running down my skin of pride;
Of the heights of Siamese twins;
The he (the herdsman) will de-husk them,
He will separate poor seed varieties from five millions of their kindred.
If dead be, I am it once.
Then will the pendulum of my mind and soul be seized forever.
And that sword of Janke Wally
Will behead a many upon their mistakes:
For denying my fists of a cloth of soil
The blood of who floods nine-tenth of my valleys;
From that land spreading its wings
Like of a vulture on an errand
Eyeing all the loopholes of this globe.
But done that will my trend tally with theirs
Then will that wish of pepper to one’s eyes
Flourish than ever;
Not that I a coward is then
But a spilled milk to cleanse the hearts of the soils:
Off those corroding fallacies.
For: I as I in else will not show my real self,
A tranquil self of being oneself.
Now consider my fate
Your judgement upon my quest:
I pay a visit to you;
Then will the rising meters spell and swell…
“Kenaroheh! Kenaroheh gara! The stranger has come!”
Then will my fluencies in the native language be counted;
Laughter will dwell on the alignment of my tongue:
Its pronunciations, will all be a totality of strangeness to them:
The rolling of my tongue,
The positioning of my teeth,
The ejaculation of the airs.
Oh, what an orgasm?
What a bitterly omen?
Then feel the oozing blood
From my arteries and veins;
The sour taste there then
Its cries like a dejected baby
Lying briskly on a bed in a deserted countryside compound.
Hear how thrilling it throbs,
Smell how pungent its urgency is,
Breathe how coarse its airs are,
And then feel how feeble its bones are,
How sharp, how blunt,
How rough like a vintage road.
Dare you then to those: An undefined countryman ship;
A tainted milk of the mother’s breasts;
Oh! No country to pride of;
No culture to adore as a pride?
I still will count my paces by the sunrise;
I will come by sunrise;
Engulf the dwindling courage;
And gulp the shattered sorrows;
And settle to re-instate my sovereignty
Then re-name me Juma:
Pound the white rice and mold them;
Gather the elders and children;
Dig pith by the main door of my re-birthed room;
Hold me up…upright within the palms;
Show me the four corners of Palmarine
And praise the heart of Sangamar;
Scatter some pounded rice into the pith;
Give the juveniles their shares;
And let them shatter my nakedness
And with whiteness like the curtains of the sky,
And their fine songs of noise
Flutter the whole airs’ slumbers;
Call my name now…Korrmak;
And allow the sekat, bassi and dang smile fervently within mouths;
And the penglerr, lam and ndambu shower the ears and souls with breezes as of drumbeats of august rains.
Yesterday was my birthday
I think you could remember
And today is my death day
I think you may know
In my cell nowhere:
Do you still remember that man with the many homes: Pacholing, Deya, How-Ba but tomorrow, uncertain?
Yes Damirog of disillusion.
Can you remember?
I think you are with me.
In my little cell down there:
Can you still remember that man?
That brother of dejection
With the name: “adhere to god”
And with a gold-colored ring dangling by his left ear
The bi-sexual by look?
In my little cell right here:
Am sorry my dear,
Listen to the wonderful story
You need not to outstretch your hands to embrace
Neither should you flatter by it
Nor to grief or cry to its rhythms:
Just have a handkerchief dry by your laps
Oh! Where should I start?
But give me chance
I will think over and you will dine well.
Yesterday by the noon was my death day
They said so
That I was ready to die
Oh! I said not
But they said so
I mean I was to return to them in Folonko;
And in the deep sea of Kabla;
And in the forest of Bateling.
And there, I would meet them
Mirang, Teneng and Manlafi.
Oh! Not them they said
But those were my names when I visited:
At a point
I was a plump girl with red eyes and a thin head
And always salivating like a sea snail
And they called me Teneng for I came on a Monday morning.
At that point
They said that I was a devil
For my mother got me from the farm
Where I was exchanged with the daughter of Sangamar
While she was working in the paddy,
And I, left in a basket sleeping under the wild kola tree.
It was there they said that I was stolen.
But it was Fafa they said was the best marabout
So he was able to send me back
Or my mother I would have eaten.
He poured some holy water on my head and I got ashamed
And I looked no more into a stranger’s eyes
Nor of my mother’s.
So I had to turn into a cobra
And that I plunged into a deep well
So I was buried in it finally.
At another point
I visited as a boy
And they named me Mirang
For thy said that my cheeks were smooth like a calabash
And my skin, fairer
And my eyes shone like pearls
And everyone loved me
But they said this time
That it was Aroko, my stepmother
It was she who bewitched me
She visited my mother at dusk when she was pounding rice for churah
And Aroko claimed to be begging for salt
But she found me laid on a mat at the door step
So she touched my forehead
And she exclaimed that I was handsome.
So the next day I developed headache
And at dust I passed away.
And at another time
I came as a girl
And they reserved Manlafi as my name
For they said that I didn’t like the earth and its people.
But my eyes never saw what the world looked like
I never coughed
Nor tasted the air.
And this time:
Woman listen to me keenly
This time I am here
Yesterday by noon was my death day.
I hope am right.
Yes my re-birth.
My umbilical cord was summoned
My gums were tattooed
As they said that it was too red for me to shine it on Ngoneh
She would shy away
And at the wrestling ground
I would be alone
My name would not be praised by any
For none will dare sing a song for me.
My left ear, notched
And the gold earring is hanging.
In my former visit, it was my right
But this time, I have it on the left
For they said that the right gave a bad luck.
O! See the pain
The blunt metal pierced through my lobe,
And on my seventh day, my being was shattered in the garbage bin
And they danced, cried and prayed
Naked! Naked I was. Stripped of pants.
O the nudity of my soul was battered.
And I finally chose life with a sinful name: Damirog.
Woi! Feel my proximity to death!
And now I am still here
Not gone. Pegged. No return yet.
And my being shouldered on two forces: friends and foes.
God forbid! Halt! A slip of the tongue
Rule a red on the foes
And make it: friends of an eccentric survivor.
Sorry! Sorry for now!
I am getting too rude and shameless.
Come count me
Count the manhood in me
I am in love
Woman, I say see the brows on my chest
And hear the depth in my box
I now talk like Korrmak.
Then allow me to a semirr:
I will choose a well braided sweet corn with milk teeth;
Tag her hand with a piece from around the vents of my heart;
And labor for seven tactile years
Each, with a coos farm, a rice farm, or firewood fetched
To revolve round the sun’s waist;
Then to the jaraaf
To splash the tying spirit, the glamorous water, upon her back;
Oh! Mine at last!
And will be carried to them
Old folks of the lifelong avenue
And will the countryside songs off fanjah murmur
While the atoh impregnates the wombs of the keen airs
There then will their brisk sways smile like my hearts;
And then passed to me alas! With the omoteh
And she will fallow a year with the brand.
Then to articulate with the furrows of Sangamar:
“Alley wayy! Fata rett!”
And the kippirr will exalt in might
Till the trousers of the canoe are wetted;
And I will be in the fore, the kohorr,
Then by the tenderr and the olalass;
With the ogam
Will my sight on the retina tranquilize an honorable signal…?
Fatajoff bo faww!
And let the kind paces of the airs
Salute the brisk hands of Sangamar
And kneel henceforth to
Let the dusty shoes of his
Be cleansed thus
To a shiny boot of a calf.
Well, it might be awkward when some readers, in this work, come across some words or statements strange to the English Language vocabulary.
Sorry! As I really don’t mean to corrupt that language but to definitely allow the messages directly reach their actual destiny…he who feels the pinch. Obviously, to translate the words within the poem will rob it of its cultural vitality and message. Therefore, I decided to write some of the words this way, as a native would pronounce them. Yet, I would crave your indulgence to consult the glossary herein highlighted.
Alleh wai an expression used for cheering up somebody doing work.
Atoh a calabash with a small opening at the top, used by Serer women as a drum for a special part of a marriage ceremony.
Bassi a type of food prepared from broken coos.
Benachin a popular Wollof diet in the West African sub-region
Bo faww forever
Bolong a tributary
Chai wai an exclamation for praising someone
Churah a liquid diet prepared from pounded rice and groundnut
Damirog adhere to god
Dang powdered white rice with sugar been shimmered and molded
Domi son or daughter of
D’jali a praise singer
Fanjah a cultural Serer song similar to those of initiations and sang during ndutt.
Fatajoff let it be straight
Fata rett let it go
Fato bala by the root
Gara you have come.
Gayindeh Njai a lion
Gonga incense tree whose stems and branches are used for boat and canoe construction.
Jaraaf women group leader responsible for the making of marriages possible.
Kanjeleng a woman being adopted by another family for her to get a child due to the death of her previous children
Khalam a four-stringed guitar used by the Wollof
Kippirr to take the boat down to the water from the beach.
Kohor the person in front of the boat who makes signals with either the head or by talking to the other crew members when in sight of fish. He also cast the net and the spear.
Kora a Mandinka musical instrument with twenty-one strings
Korrmak old man.
Lam a big Serer drum that produces loud sound and is used in ceremonies like naming, wedding.
Mushiba an exclamation that means danger or catastrophe
Ndambu a short Serer drum used in collaboration with the lam and penglerr.
Ndutt a traditional Serer marriage ceremony conducted only by women. In it, they sing fanjah and beat the atoh. Men are forbidden to attend it.
Ogam a long spear with a long rope at the rare used for hunting big fish.
Olalas a person at the back of the boat who controls its direction.
Omoteh a dress for a Serer bride covering her whole body and worn throughout her first year of marriage.
Penglerr a Serer drum similar to the sabarr.
Sabarr a Wollof drum
Seekat a traditional Serer food prepared from thoroughly grounded coos.
Semirr an in-law
Tenderr the person in the middle of a boat who paddles in collaboration with the one at the back. He also removes the water that gets into the boat.
Wantai hand fan