Category Archives: Anaele Ihuoma’s poetry

The chief priest and a nay-tion’s infidelities

When the infidelities of this nay-tion  are told to salivating  divorce lawyers

when the long chaplets and masking hijabs are finally  unmasked

when  dizzying digits seized

or said to have been seized

in sleaze cash haul of shame,

still leave  lacunae of grains and couscous in dinner tables,

when  the lava of long celibate stomachs

suddenly erupts,  without the funfair of lightning

when the chief  priest comes with his ofo-n’ogu

a vengeful scalpel piercing the resistance of thick-skinned maladies

when  he takes in the visual gauntlet of saturated farts

spreading like the coily hide-and-smoke of illicit hemp

as you hear the chief priest’s s broken voice

may your own voice not then be found

to have been silent.

WALLS

grammar joke 3

 

W A L L S.

From the birth pangs of the first farting man

to the last drop of his kin’s dust-to-dusts,

walls have served only to buy time

but even the hours of ‘dying minutes’ extracted from complicit refs

have been nothing but fading embers of false dawns

light years away from their architects’ wet dreams:

dreams on glossy paper

like sleek sketches of galloping thoroughbreds,

reined in by dark fears walking on all fours

festering, like the ferns of graffiti

that separated East and West Berlin

Walls.

if Jericho could capitulate at the echoes of a mere shout

What  was the wisdom of the stone walls?

The plot of hydrogen sulphide that leaked out of the anus

with émigré-emitting consequences

was actually hatched inside the stomach walls

walls fed with rotten remnants of sacrificial egg,

left uneaten at crossroads by satiated gods

Walls.

Walls. We have seen roundtable conferees make their points in implacable knuckles,

In battle cries of clenched teeth

we have seen graphics of Power-

point presentations of live jugulars

populating pages of pathos.

It is that weather again,

of wind-aided insights into fowl anus revelations,

of cracks in walls touted maximum

security.

Walls.   Cracking now like the spirits of albumens when yolks have already been

readied for omelets.  So much for impregnable defences, of egg shells.

Walls.

The bend of Beckham’s ball beat a mollusk whorls closeness of stonewalls

walls. Many saw it but not the handwriting on the

walls. Not the moral of the mural

now staring Nebuchadnezzar’s scions in the face

like warning teasers from the midday sun.

When rams are on heat – the rams embedded inside the denseness of the sun

who can count the colours of their bleating lenses at noon?

Who would have thought that the deli of Delilah termites

packed enough seismic ammo

to expose the underbelly of Samson’s granite cast

for what it really was –

red mud

Walls. They that build walls

make geckos of men.

you could comb the farthest forests

of walled history

with a tour guide of Wollof dancers

pointing with their rising nipples to the curve of fallen civilizations,

you can listen to the lament of the cremator

as wayward winds stake claims

to the recycling rights of his own cremation dust

you can study history

from hieroglyphs to hash tags of in-vogue memes

you will not find sturdier grounds for walls

than the ego of the emperor.

Continue reading

Deluded Angels

Deluded Angels

[They rained down on Southern Kaduna]

 

Usually, skeletons would scurry, away

like drenched rats whenever gluttony

struts the runway

but here

it is not so

for the gluttons here

feed on manflesh

and leave the skeletons to tip the scales of infamy

 

The tooth fillers were chased away

now gangs with fangs

are playing dentists

pulling milk teeth

to line the routes of their boulevards,

ethnic-cleansed,

as breeders of hate try

to teach the devil himself a few new tricks

in southern Kaduna drain

 

We saw it when Typhoon ‘Anopheles’ struck

leaving a Santa generosity of proboscis

to siphon the flow of redness                                                                                                                                   that once bound all humanity

now they are humming with marrowless humerus,

in their private museums.

This is no code

it’s what is left of their foes

after the flesh is fleeced:

their tribal foes

whose children once filled the bridal trains at their own daughters’ weddings

 

Their brains were the first to go

then the mind was traded for intoxicants

that bigot brew that turns a simple look in a mirror

into sight-seeing wonders

where deluded angels

see nothing

but their gold standard tribal marks.

You Must Leave Your Beard Behind -for Fidel Castro

You Must Leave Your Beard Behind

– For Fidel Castro

Many find their fun at the fount of blood,

like Herod’s messengers

returning with venom-coated evidence

of their own efficiencies

But the winds find theirs as they kiss the cedars

that bear your epitaphs, in bold

your epitaphs, set to salsa

Many Herods sought you, Fidel

but like wanton kids, all they got

was the tail of the wall gecko

as the creature bailed out

to return to his trade of fortune telling…

…that bulwarks, cast in concrete

held back raging seas

but failed to hinder the hands that turned the guillotine

robbing graveyards of their proverbial silence:

as griefs writ in wreaths

of Marxism-leninism memorabilia

mingle with cry of crushed grass

..the turf of elephant fights…

when one ism bids to outdo the other.

But you, wild cat of the caribbes

you touted no isms,

you merely washed your people’s feet

feet, where once were stumps

A thousand breastplates torment their wearers

a billion bulletproofs

encase their victims

but they are lighter than a sketch of scarecrows

before the winds of fate

But you, captain of the caribbes

all you wore was

a parchment

of your people’s love

cast around you

like a spell, and

fending off the furious fusillades

of your foes, as their arrows

ricocheted off the dome of their doomsday predictions

long before Moncada Garrison

long after Sierra Maestra

Ill-winds may rock the boats of history, but

they still berth in benevolent shores

the same armada that rubbled cast iron barricades

could do so scant against

paean-spinning peasants

filling the atmosphere like anti-missile shields,

folks feigning madness and swearing:

  • Give us Fidel or give us death!

King of the Caribbes,

your knighthood is inviolate,

Not six-a-penny bought:

you earned your epaulet

With scars that courage wrought

But all journeys must end, alas

the straws that fuel the feet of the snail-hunter at night

must one day run out of own fuel,

the proverb-minter

himself a proverb in another’s tongue

Now you must journey to the city

where revolution is anathema

where dachas diminishing, and castles a-plenty

where crowns outnumber bags of legends

on the chequered tracks of tortoises

Carriage horse of the Caribbes

you may hear orgies of elegies

from the same tongues that toggled your denunciation songs:

when they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

plug your ears to cannons

Some will exhume ancestral bones

turning the trumpets for the Internationale

to pseudo-prophets for their tribal agenda

when they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

plug your ears to their cannons

They may entomb you in mausoleums grander

than the taj mahal

Let them deck you in kente

and serenade you in a soirée of sonatas

When they rend the sky with their twenty one gun salutes

Plug your ears to their cannons

And you must leave your beard behind

This is no journey with jungle boots

No rucksacks, no fatigue

Walk straight,

Walk nimble

Merge into your hallowed place

in the pantheon.

fdel-castro

Shout at the Walled

 

Lord

Today, I’m carrying a spare throat to the farm:

not a hoe, not a sickle,

with brute faith I guard my loins

and trudge to the point where

 

I set up my camp

 

To shout down the world

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel

 

Nkkhm: a bird emerges from a hole,

like car from an underground garage,

then flees

O no – it’s a cricket!

Kruuu, a frog comes running, scared stiff

Like a concubine’s chewing’ stick

Then a redneck

All these just because I cleared my throat!

So what’s going to give when I start my shout?

 

I blow a shout through my ram horn

A shout of rugged airs. But it doesn’t even rumple the calico

Of the bouncers at the planets’ politburo.

 

I climb mount Armstrong, Louis Armstrong

And shape my cheeks like his mini-universe

and blow, blow, blow

But every shout, every decibel of outrage

Only manages to send the world to a higher orbit

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel

 

Far away it spins

Beyond the reach of tear gas-and-cloud

Beyond the reach of delinquent stars splintered from the Big Bang

Beyond the reach of the spin doctors, paid

Handsomely, very handsomely

To say, very nicely,

In scented sentences

with nicotined lips

That the world is doing just fine

The world, as you know, is the pump-price-of-fuel

 

What a fatal love for their urbane airs.

Their elaborate gesticulations surely

Have more to do with the karat content of their cufflinks

Than the other point they want us to see:

How little it matters if, they

Started off as dieticians and ended up morticians

– it’s the same number of syllables!

 

That’s even before they switch on their charm

Backed by a history of histograms

And declare, with the assurance of the rarity of their perfumes

That the world is doing just fine

That many would look back, soon

And say, from marble graveyards

That this was the economist’s finest hour.

 

 

 

 

THEIR TEARS ARE WATCHING GOD

THEIR TEARS ARE WATCHING GOD

  • For the Chibok Girls

Their tears were watching God

from the base of the nose

the bit that the hangwoman left for air

and for her own  masochistic juice

chef of  the red sauce

she was one of them, you know, the  hangwoman

 

Their tears are watching God

from their new abodes,

far separated  from the ghostly socked long drained of fluid

the skin of their eyes thrust past the blindfold

when they were first taken –

but their takers have now settled down

to the comfort of stolen  breasts

and to gunpowder

the mildest of their intoxicants

having since obtained the consent of the raped

(and that includes diplomats too busy with  hardcover girlie mags)

 

It’s a jackalian task, this

haggling over minds

without a single growl

now everything is adulterated

the coquettish hands

the puerile penises touted pious

which their hangers-on use as question marks –

the gentlest form of their marriage proposals –

(reminding Satan he has a  catching up to do),

the woman’s consenting smile

the gory postings on facebook

the ambassadors’ feeble protests

everything

everything is adulterated…

 

But now that they have bought

the wholesale patent to the mind of the preyed on

the hangwoman is flaunting her taunting prowess:

why don’t you admit you like it here, enh?

why don’t you admit you’re loving it?

that what they did to you last night was, you-know-whore-I-mean?

Why don’t you renounce your hopes

of a one-minute-silence at the next meeting

of the united – or other  –  nations?

why don’t you admit we’ve all failed

when we should be on all fours

we’re still hanging onto travesties of two….?

Enjoy your brunch of mashed brain

while I wield my working blades

 

Their tears are still watching God

for telltales

of grave spades

to bury any doubts

that it wasn’t he

that created both these species

and they themselves,

the residues,

on whom the hangwomen now practise their dying .

 

Enter The Literary Aristocrat: A review of Binyavanga Wainaina’s One Day I Will Write About this Place

Enter the Literary Aristocrat.

Review of Binyavanga Wainaina’s One Day I Will Write about this Place.

When we board our final, one-way flight out of this earth,  we leave a cute, epitaph-adorned gravestone; if when we are born, we come  with a futurologist’s  ‘birthstones’, Binyavanga Wainaina’s might read: “Enter, riding on the redolence of the Rift Valley, Binyavanga, the literary aristocrat.”

Maybe he has such a birthstone in his name ‘Binyavanga’ which, in the Kinyarwanda language of his Ugandan mother, approximates to, ‘mixing things up.’

He flaunts all the free radicals, traits from which a restless writer is stitched together: hedonism, restlessness, irreverence,  a voracious reading appetite that has made his  RAM [read-all-memory] the size of a huge library; brilliance, and, according to some blurb writers, a tinge of lunacy.

But it’s the brilliance that shines through, the most part, in One day I will write About This Place, his memoir debut. The title itself is a red herring; the actual fulfillment of  its own promise.

Generally, reading a memoir is like watching a soccer match you already knew the result: your adrenaline is immune to the twists and turns. Otherwise, at a point in the book, after the author  has returned to South Africa to try and complete his abandoned schooling only to, after just one week,  finally walk away from schooling and into bar life, one is tempted to see the author as the archetypal prodigal.  But you know, from hindsight, that this would be a hasty verdict.

Wainaina’s  language is bold, it catches you napping with its spontaneity; you do not get a sense of someone searching for words; he just flows like the Limpopo, or the Hudson, rivers whose banks have nurtured his creative élan.  The imagery is cute, quaint: “The wind swoops down, God breathes, and across the lake a million flamingoes rise, the edges of Lake Nakuru lift, like pink skirts swollen by petticoats, now showing bits of blue panties, and God gasps,…”. There are a few grim paragraphs too: the tribal warlord wipes the blood off the blade of the machete he has just wielded on his own wife       [because she’s from another tribe], and moves to the next room in search of her daughter…

You will have gone very far before you realize that what you’re reading is, stripped of its appurtenances, a travelogue. You reconstruct  the journey:  Nakuru   – Nairobi – Umtata  – Jo’bourg  – Kampala – Entebbe – Bufumbira – Lagos – Accra – Lome – New York. Of course it’s a more convoluted itinerary, with detours and repeat journeys. It’s a peculiar middle class Kenyan flight path, part of the broader boy-to-man journey. But  what is he searching for? If he knew, the book would cease to be an adventure. But he found things: the soul of Kenya, in close-up, larger than the sum total of the country’s high tribal egos: Gikuyu’s, Luo’s, Maasai’s, Kalejins, etc. Having branded the tribes, the author is hard-pressed trying to live his life outside the [tribal] box. West Africa is sized up in a tourist’s lens before he returns to Mandelaland, and to how the songs of the unhealable and irrepressible –  the one you scoff at, sometimes,  but always love her music: Brenda Fassie  – how her rhythms heal  a transiting but still socially gun-powdered nation.  You learn, too, that Okot p’Bitek bought a Rolls-Royce for ‘next to nothing’ from refugees fleeing the Congo crisis in the 1960’s. Graceless, rather unpoetic act from my revered Ife teacher

But Wainaina  also found something  treasureable:  in his own words ‘a touching story about the reunion of a family torn apart by civil war and the genocide in Rwanda.’ It’s a tale that will move any heart. And it did.   South Africa’s Sunday Times snapped it up, the very next Sunday, with a handsome pay. That was the beginning of a publishing spiral, that has taken the story, sometimes in various outer garments but always with the same soul, through the Caine Prize holy grail and made it, arguably, the showpiece of the current accomplishment One Day I Will Write... In a nutshell, it is the prodigal’s rehabilitation, the turning point in his becoming a literary aristocrat: the one who is given a blank cheque [you can take it literal] to write a story on Sudan or elsewhere and gets to keep the cash  even when the story is dropped for breaching the code of he-who-pays-the-piper ….

For the sub-genre of creative nonfiction, we just don’t know the limits of the author’s creative latitude. The alleged discussion in a Frankfurt hotel between Wainaina and ‘the bodyguard of the Nigerian President’ seems to be nothing but the author  exercising his ‘creative’ options.

But the fact that the novel rises to sublime heights of language and imagery shouldn’t mean it should get away with beer-drenched ramblings: we see  correspondents looking for the story with “The Most Macheteing Deathest, Most Treasury Corruptest, Most Entrail-eating Civil Warest, Most Crocodile-Grinning Dictatorest…”  The context is compelled to admit them, and the editors are helpless, applauding, star-struck. Being a literary aristocrat does have its rewards.  There are also a few over-kills: the word ‘fluent’ is rather flaunted. “If we fail to be fluent in the language of MTV and London…”. Fine and de rigueur when it first drops on us, but when you see it for the fourth or fifth time, it begins to feel like licking the finger that once held the sweet. Also, we see a segment where a planes “ altitude changes rapidly from three thousand meters above sea level to eight thousand feet.” Hey, Bwana, did you try the maths conversion yourself?

But you only found these questionable entries with an examiner’s hard determination; the book  is actually a magnificent  cruise in a language love boat.

Wainaina’s voracious reading had made  him build  up a vast repertory of unwritten stories in his subconscious, awaiting a trigger to be pulled by a benevolent Muse. With the beaut of a story of the family reunion in Uganda, he has fulfilled the promise of One Day...     Perhaps there’s still the promise of another day.

Anaele Ihuoma.

NOTE:

 I make this two-page exception to my usual  one-page review series, subject, however, to  a 1,000-word limit.