Sierra Leone

August 23rd, 2004 by Roland B. Marke

Child Soldier

Appears haggard brainwashed
AK 47 drags, heart-beat trauma
Probably 9 or 10 years of age
Boy or girl conscripted in war
Bush-bred deprived of school
Ordeal to survive, hungry soul
Blurred speech irrational mind
Effects of hallucinogen drugs
Dangerous kid fantasy of war
Mandated extinction life itself
Kills and rapes blood or alien (more…)

August 23rd, 2004 by Roland B. Marke

Half a Pot Full

Her name was Yei Fomba, but she was commonly known as Dabuteh, a sobriquet from her father, a humorous man who was fond of calling his children by nicknames he gave them according to their character or temperament. As a little girl, she was known for her joyous disposition when her mother’s cooking pot used to be more than half-full of rice, and thus, the name, ‘Dabuteh’, meaning half a pot full. ‘Half a pot full’ was an indication that rice would be sufficient for everyone on a given day. But those were the only days, in the confines of her parents that she enjoyed childhood.

Dabuteh was born into a family of over forty children, of which nine were siblings from the same mother. But she called her father’s remaining seven wives ‘mother’ and they treated her as such without qualms. Her mother had lost a child at birth whose twin sister had also died of chickenpox two years later. Her mother had told her that her twin had called her in the heavens and that was that. Of her six siblings, a boy and five girls, five were sent to school to learn the white man’s language. Her eldest sister had married and had gone away to a distant land. She was the only one left to help her mother with domestic work and petty trading that helped pay school fees for her school-going siblings.

She lived in a town called Gbamendo, in a big compound situated along the main motor road leading to a prosperous trading town called Kwendu. At thirteen, she was ready for initiation into the Bondo Society. Most of her sisters were recent or old Bondo initiates, a ritual that marked their rite of passage into womanhood. Between ten and thirteen is the prime time for Bondo initiation. It was now her turn for the female circumcision ritual. (more…)

April 18th, 2004 by Karamoh Kabba