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polici

What tragedy alights the flame of pittance in the beggar’s heart?
Is it the unnerving hole-ridden road to prosperity?
Or merely the worn-ragged story of possibility?
Indeed, if hollow promises made heavy debts then
the rich would beg on their knees.
Sadly only the sorry live with sorrow,
craving and raving about the unlikely prospects of tomorrow.

When the whispers of false decency tread on the still nakedness of beggared flesh,
twinkles of generosity seep from the corrupt breath of power.

Oh,
how charity strikes the chord,
how it breaks open the sealed disgust hidden within wealthy pockets.
Pockets filled to the brim; filled so high that the weight of them drags down the heart.

Perhaps it is destiny, that voluptuous specter who leads all of man to shameful ends, playing with means out of sheer amusement.

Who will curb the power of the corrupt?

The corruption of power.  

An almost instantaneous poem by Hafiz Juma, inspired by this drawing.

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This morning, 
I woke to find an American flag 
hoisted above the fisher camp on Msasani bay.
Sometime during the night 
the stars and stripes were erected 
and now proclaim that the
corrugated iron sheets, 
the plastic bottles, 
the sun-bleached washing hanging on a line, 
The graffiti saying mysteriously – Naz –
are all somehow Yankee property. 

Later I will go down and ask what it is all about,
But just now, I wonder who put it there and how
And whether on this little coastal strip 
– between the dhows and the Baobabs trees –
Someone slipped in in the night to claim
Dominion over the rocks, and seaweed and sand.  

An excerpt from ‘The Invasion’ by Louise Hoole

sangara sign

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babu

Sidewalks swarm with women wrapped in black, men draped in white, and a rainbow of harmony in between.
This Dar embraces.

A luminous moon pulls swollen tides onto rocky shores while residents revel in weekend freedom.
This Dar celebrates.

A briny perfume lingers in the air like the inherited memory of ancient ship holds.
This Dar remembers.

Excerpt from ‘This Dar’ by Amy Gautam

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It is easy to listen to trees when your mind is cracked.

This tree of life with her fat trunk that reminds me of my fat wife the colour of chai and all our tea-colored children… This magic tree talks to me.

The place Mbuyuni is named, of course, because it is where the mbuyu is. When Konoike and company came to turn the road into an avenue to name after the president, they wanted to cut her down so that they could build in a straight line because Development is straight. Strange engineers, not to have noticed that nothing in Dar es Salaam is done with rules and rulers. Namanga’s people—the tired schoolteachers and the shopkeepers from Pemba, the parish priest and his blue-clad Sisters—said No. Those tremors travelled all the way up and down the road from Mbezi through the Salender valve straight past Ikulu, and on, and on.

Yes, even we heard about it, we who had nothing to lose by losing her. But if we could love the hibiscus and frangipanis in our gardens and the fertile papai trees, we could certainly love an old baobab and her sour fruit. I know this because, at the time, I had a big lawn and frangipanis and pink-fleshed papais and a night-blooming jasmine bush that my fat wife sniffed in the evenings, and I was one of the letter-writers.

an excerpt from the amazing short story ‘Mbuyuni’ by Elsie Eyakuze (http://mikochenireport.blogspot.com)

frangipani

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 “Maybe you heard,” he says, ripping a rainbow of long strips from plastic shopping bags and lacing them through the seat of his folding chair, “about the woman who disappeared on Selander Bridge yesterday.”  He pauses to wipe sweat from his deeply wrinkled brow with his shirtsleeve.  He tears and knots the strips that will temporarily transform his perch, fade and disintegrate again around its rusted metal frame, the only vestige of the chair’s original form.  His gnarled fingers work the chair like a loom. “When her arm grew hair like a dog’s—she vanished.”

An excerpt from the short story by Debbie Ventimiglia... love it – thanks Debbie!

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Each day, another road is tarred over and a new multi-story building begins to inch its way up into the sky. Soon, I fear, the limestone pocked roads will be a thing of the past, the sky-scrapers will block the sea breezes, and we’ll lose Dar’s identity as a sea-side city – all in the name of development.

Since what I love about this city is its sea and its trees and its mambo-jambo hodgepodge of cultures, I have decided to…to do what? I can lobby the government so that all international arrivals and departures take place at the sea port – I can even blow up the airport to make sure no one sneaks in by plane. And I can wage a war of sabotage, blowing up each sky-scraper. Pretty soon developers will think twice before tearing down two story buildings with balconies and histories. And I can booby-trap each and every tree – No more cutting down trees or paving over gardens. Best yet, I can release all the animals at the zoo and shoo them across the ferry and into centre city: Wouldn’t you like to catch a glimpse of a giraffe at the corner of Sokoine and Shaabani Robert, or of warthogs scampering through cars on Morogoro Road? These are honourable causes and I am required to make the effort.

But these causes also require more daring than I have ever managed to exert.

from ‘A meeting with Mr Dahl’, by Lisa Maria Noudehou
(lets hope the pen really is as mighty as the sword,  or a stick or two of dynamite…)

urban palms

urban palms

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an excerpt from ‘Imbeciles’

My empty stomach grumbled again. I looked outside and saw food sellers preparing to sell under the shades of a mango tree, waiting eagerly for the bell to ring. The chattering women were unloading from their heads baskets, buckets and trays ladden with food. I watched as Mama Maandazi, as she was called by the children, lifted the lid off a red bucket filled with maandazi. The smell of the doughnut-like sweet bread with cardomons wifted through the naked casement windows, which hung by the hinges.

As if on a conspirancy to torture me, Mama Aisha lifted the kawa that was covering her basket full of vitumbua, the smell of rice cakes wifted through the windows and attacked me.

…from the wonderful short story “Imbeciles’ by Sandra Mushi – part of a collection she has shared with me – asante sana Sandra!

Vitumbua

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