Poem by Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st 

 
 
Poem by Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st 
 
 
 
AFRICA
 
Africa,
I am Africa,
I am the sharp-pointed
Short stabbing spear
Of Zulu Shaka.
 
I am the lost Royal spear
Of Labongo,
I am the swallowed bead
Of Gipir,
I am Africa,
The footstool of the wild,
Rise, Dead Africa.
 
 
 
YOUR FIRST WIFE IS YOUR MOTHER
 
O listen my clansmen:
Bear with me a little longer;
I have just flashed,
I shall rain far away.
Our folks always say:
Do not waste all your grass-torch
On the spying termites and whiteants
Because the swarms of whiteants come later
And that, never break your legs
Dancing the baby-drum sounded
For, the sweetness of the dance
Is in the sound of the mother-drum.
The sweetness of alcohol
Is not in the taste
But the drunkenness.
Your wife is not yours
Until you bury her near your house,
So wait till you bury my song.
I am yet to sing my sweet song.
A gas farted out
Can never be swallowed back.
I am sorry, my clansmen,
But let me hit the mother-drum,
With the naked palms of my hands
And break it now…
 
Listen, I tell you again:
The elephant of misery in my house;
I have carried it,
I have carried it for too long,
I shall carry it on more.
 
The pool of pain in my house:
I have covered it,
I have covered it for too long;
I shall cover it no more,
Let me strip it naked now.
 
Thoughts want to murder me
Bleeding heart stops me from sleeping,
It pains like a scorpion sting.
I endure,
I endure torments
That men torment with women.
I endure them sheep-sheep:
I cannot breathe,
The rules of the society against my womanhood.
 
O my clansmen
Have I been paid as a blood money?
Let me know if someone from another clan
Once killed one of your kinsmen
For whom I now stand to ransom?
For if not so, then why me?
Why force me to inherit my father’s age-mate?
I endure this,
 
I endure this for the children.
My eyes remain under the door
Strange footfalls deceive me.
Will my children return home alive?
If so, when, my folks?
My ears remain on the grounds
Strange voices of women
From the well deceive me.
 
Will the breed of elephant return home
So that I see their lost sights?
Bush news brings me coldness;
Those escapees say
All my children have gone to Pagak.
 
Hmmm…
Too-lit, my son;
The one whose shoulder I would cry on;
Ahy, look, death took him home
Like an eagle takes a chick;
Truly, death is painful,
As painful as your name, my son.
 
Hmmm…
Too-dwong, my son;
He that could have housed me
Ahy, look, death robbed him away
From my hands;
Truly, death is big,
As big as your name, my son.
 
Hmmm…
Too-rac, my son:
He that could have protected me:
Ahy, look, death took him away;
Truly, death is bad,
As bad as what your name means, son.
 
Hmmm…
Too-paco, my last born;
From where will I begin today?
He that could have buried me:
Ahy, look, death stole him away
From my breasts.
Truly, the homestead is dead:
As dead as what your name means, my son.
 
Look, please, my clansmen:
Worst of all, their graves are unmarked,
Who knows where they are?
Decades have passed,
No sign of their sights.
Where do I go today?
 
I become death
I run to Gulu
I fall on the Paramount Chief
It is unbearable home!
It rages in Ocumi valley
Men are no more
The remnants are angry
With the war going on:
The war whose root I know not
They have left women home
And gone northward to seek Kony;
Kony cannot be found;
Kony is the passing wind!
Men have joined ‘BOO-KEC’
Men have joined ‘ARROW-BOYS’
Men have joined ‘ACOLI ARE ANGRY.’
They left women in camps
And went towards Garamba
They have gone to find Kony
Kony cannot be seen,
Kony is the whispering wind.
 
I run to Kitgum/ I fall on the D.C
It is unbearable home!
It rages at Oru-ki-kokko in Labongo!
Homes are left for women
Men are no more,
The remnants are angry
With the war going on!
The war too horrible to be described.
All men have gone
All children have gone
They have gone with sisal robes around their waists
And their hands at the backs of their heads
‘Holy’ have taken them to the bush.
 
Look, please, my clansmen:
It is unbearable home!
They have killed Okello.
My children followed my husband
Their ancestors called them all.
It is unbearable home!
 
O my clansmen:
Let me tell you
The man you gave me
Has come for my summary killing.
The brother of my husband
Has come for my last breath.
 
O my clansmen,
You have reared the gourd plant’s head home!
I have carried the hook
With the head pad today.
I refused, I refused,
But you said a good woman must listen
And not question the authority of a man.
 
My clansmen,
A swarm of brown ants
Have attacked my house.
It is unbearable in house!
I have run to you,
My fathers and mothers:
Help the helpless woman!
The new man will be the end of the old homestead,
All he knows best is partying
In the Republican Bar
Cracking political jokes in slogans.
 
My clansmen,
Lukwiya is hopeless!
The man is no more man!
He blames me for all his misfortunes
And says I drag him down —
When has this Lukwiya ever been up, my clansmen?
 
I tell you again, clansmen:
This man that inherited me
Is nothing but a woman
Lukwiya lies lazily like a pregnant woman,
His body is sour tamarind sweet,
His body is as tasteless
As the surface of Angwec’s mother’s fermented Kwete,
He lies like a bloated python
That has swallowed an elephant.
 
He warns me: ‘Don’t call me Lukwiya
I am Lukwiya no more!
And if you do,
You will hear your own sound!
I am His Excellency “Atoo-ikin-bulu!”
My new husband says he is “Atoo-ikin-bulu”
(Which loosely translates: ‘I die among youths’).
 
Hahaha — my new old husband!
You think he is young!
A very old greyhaired shameless man
Who should remain home
Eating the pension of his children
With the dignity he lost!
My late husband’s homestead
Has become the home of wild cats!
Who still sets fire at the fireplace
And gathers all his wives and children
And tells the riddles
And the fables of the Monster and the Hare
And the legend of Labongo and Gipir?
I who am a woman,
Aren’t I the one who sets the fire on this compound myself?
Lukwiya sets his fireplace at the roadside
Of the new town
And the Republican Bar
Where they all meet to discuss the national affairs
And toast up to cheer up their pakalast rule.
He tells me to support the Party
And I tell him ‘over my dead body’
And he tells me he is a spy
And that if I supported the Party
We could ride a horse
And I tell him we haven’t yet ridden a pig
And he insists I join the Party
Or better still, I go to Republican Bar
And sell my body like the town malaya
To the pot-bellied officials
Who go there for prostitutes
And that the prostitutes are paid by the Party
He says we would be rich
Because his Party has a hell of money
And I get upset and tell him — ‘FUCK THE PARTY!’
Isn’t it the fucking offìcials
Who go to the fucking Republican Bar
Who get the fucking money
Of the fucking Party
At any fucking time?
 
O sorry my clansmen,
Sorry if you hear me rage!
It has now gone a puppy’s nose!
My husband’s Party-thing has torn my house apart
He tells me if I do not join his Party
We shall not share a bed
We shall divorce!
I tell him I cannot join the Party
That ever wins any election it loses …
(TO BE CONTD) —-
 
(©The Strange Successor, Echoes of the Wasteland
®Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st p’ Odoki)
 
 
 

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