Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dela Nyamuame - Social media's Efo Dela. Pic cred: EAA Media Productions

Dela Nyamuame – Social media’s Efo Dela. Pic cred: EAA Media Productions


A lot of my friends are going through a young adult crisis. I know because we talk about it and we try to help each other. Finances, relationships and jobs form a big core but much of the despair results from a sense of political disappointment. Ghana is an expensive country and many people have lost jobs this year. It has gotten hard, and the guys are having to spend their productive years just trying to stay up, instead of flying. So this title is worth it. This poem is worth it and @readjerome’s tweet that triggered it, is worth it.

As I write this, Dorothy has tweeted ‘anywhere but here…anywhere but here’. I talk with her about possible futures, dreams and school. A Nigerian tweeted that he could not fathom how Ghanaians cope with such an expensive country and do not protest, that we are too docile. We are docile for sure. So we have resigned to start disbelieving in our home as a place for dreams.

Efo Dela wrote this poem below. He shares my name and I suppose you should check out his highly recommended poetry blog. He’s one of Ghana’s young poets whose style I am familiar with and who I read quite a bit. I think I see similarities in my poetry voice and his, and I tweeted my appreciation of his poetry and general Ewe poetry last year at this thread.

I will do a brief review of the poem afterwards.

Ghana Is No Place For Dreams


A hawker
Tiredly taps
On the rolled window
Of a prisoner of traffic.

For sale:
Bootlegged aspirations
Bagged in small sizes
Sold at half price,
or less

On the radio,
There’s a man
Talking incoherently.

The glazed-eyed
Traffic inmate
Hears neither the hawker
Nor the man.

Ghana is no place for dreams.



Before I go on to review this, I should say that I chose this poem for the romance of its attempt to incite. Ghana is a place for dreams but you have to not go back to sleep.

The poem starts in the early morning, 6:45am. A street hawker has already set up shop, hoping to glean any luck from the morning throng. If you have ever been in Accra, you will readily appreciate that at 6:45am, there is already kilometers of traffic snaking through the city to all manner of ends as people go in pursuit of their lofty dreams. There also is a reluctant acceptance that people with wares will weave through traffic and shove their goods in your face in search of sales.  This hawker taps ‘tiredly’ (line 3), on the rolled-up window of the person Efo Dela chooses to call “a prisoner of traffic”  (line 5). The sense of tiredness at 6:45am reminds me that sometimes these hawkers have worked some other job through the night and have probably even postponed sleep until the morning traffic is past. The desperation.

This particular morning, Efo says that the hawker is not even in search of a lot. He sells bootlegged aspirations at half price or less. The idea is that anything to make a sale for the chance to not go through the day penniless is enough.

But at the same time, our “traffic inmate” (line 15) is absent-minded, not distracted by the hawker nor paying attention to the incoherent babble from the radio, he himself, his eyes glazed, perhaps lost in what is left of faltering dreams and the ruins of burnt-down aspirations.

There is no hope for a dream at 6:45am in Ghana traffic as the ensuing day promises no hope, being preceded by a confused radio presenter and tiredness even before the day has begun.

Let me take a moment to remind that Ghana is supposed to be one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and a poster child of the Africa rising narrative. Make of this what you choose. There is no price for a dream.  Brilliant poem by Efo Dela.


RIP Prof Keorapetse William Kgositsile. File photo.
Image: Tshepo Kekana. © Sunday World                        

Hi guys,

Happy 2018. I keep coming in and out of this space like a place where I may have left my keys. I’m back again.

Maybe in 2018, I will review more brilliant poetry. In the past two years, my life has transformed incredibly and it affected the number of times I came searching for my keys here :). But there has been more stability now and maybe this is the year I do more purposeful writing. It is not a resolution but I feel a stirring of the spirits that made me get this blog going in the first place. This might be the comeback.

You guys are amazing. The page views are always in the hundreds every day even though I haven’t put out much content over quite some time. Hopefully on my part, this will change.

I was thinking of putting this blog out in a book so that we can have these and more beautiful poems and their reviews handy as coffee table reads. The biggest reason I haven’t done so is because I have not done the hard work of seeking out the copyright holders of each individual poem. Some of them may no longer be alive but might have handed these rights to trusts. Pray for me. I may want to kick off that work this year and I need the strength.

This year begun very sadly for us the poetry fraternity in Africa as we have lost South Africa’s poet laureate Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile. Farewell Bra Willie and commiserations, Mzansi. Click to read his moving poem tribute to refugees titled Anguish Longer than Sorrow.

I wish you all a better 2018 than you have asked for yourselves. Let’s do this.

Africa: A Thought. December 2017

Posted: December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

We all,
Like soaked pages
Of a once-great African novel
Sacred leaves of this sacrilege
We all.


This is actually pleasant news here. I have been looking forward to the advent of online marketplaces for the Ghanaian literary space for a while and I finally found a site that does just that. In the few years past, so many online sites have sprung up selling wares but none has been dedicated to books – until now!

The site at looks like the first book-only e-market in Ghana. I have spent a few days looking through their design and trying to navigate their site, for a feel of what they envisage. It may be some time yet before the site is stocked fully with books under all the different sections created, but see how much of a service they will be doing book lovers once they get it all together. For instance, I could not find any poetry books under their Poetry category but they have a structure which accommodates that expectation and which affirms that they intend to make those books available. It will be a breeze for local publishers and writers to have ready broadcast potential, and for readers to find new authors.

I have found that Nana Awere Damoah (@ndamoah), blogger at and one of the more prolific new writers has already signed up his books Tales from Different Tails, Through the Gates of Thought, Excursions in my Mind and I Speak of Ghana, among the non-fiction work. He looks like he will be an early beneficiary of any good results from hosting on Azaliabooks. He already has another book out from last month, yet to be launched and titled Sebitically Speaking.

We need many more of these, especially if they are to be dedicated to Africa and African writing. Azalia is a starter, with huge potential to grow. Thankfully, they have begun by getting the basics right: an appealing and easy to navigate site, compartmentalization, and global access by visa card and mobile money. Also, because I prefer to read on the go, it is handy for me that I can download and use the Azalia Reader on my Android devices.


If you have a minute, click here and get browsing. It will be pretty cool to have known this site long before it became big. And also for any aspiring poets and writers, getting your work out there just got marginally easier. Worth the support.

Where Have I Been?

Posted: July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized
Timeless Mauritania

Timeless Mauritania

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got to share with you a post. In the past couple of months I’ve been so terribly engaged with work that when I had a holiday, I slept it all off. What have you all been reading?

In the period I was away, I visited Ivory Coast briefly, went through Dakar in Senegal and ended in Nouakchott in Mauritania. I have read and reviewed poets from the first two but not from Mauritania. So my next poem to be reviewed will come from there. I discovered Oumar Ba while I was in the country and he might be the one I review next.

Exciting piece of news too; I’ve been invited to be part of the reading team for this year’s Golden Baobab Prize for African children’s literature. There’s nothing better than helping to shape the next generation of African stories and I am totally looking forward to the reading marathon to begin next week. Coupled with work, it should be another time when I may not post very much but I trust you guys still read African poetry. Especially because my page views haven’t reduced. Thank you :)

I will get time for your blogs soon too, I promise. Keep those pens busy and keep sharing your favourite poems too. Enjoy :)

It’s always a joy to hear from a reader of this blog either by comment, by tweet, by email or by a guest post. This is the first guest post I am hosting and I commend A. Gonzaga fom Finland for sending this very well-written review of a Nigerian-originated book of poems he has read. Here goes:

Edoheart III              jesusofallniggerscover-thumb

Pic: Edoheart and the cover of Jesus of All Niggers

I respect art by the artist who does not try to conform—the fear of being seen as different being the number one danger facing the young artist of today. Eseohe Arhebamen, known perhaps more popularly as Edoheart, is not a young artist, though. She’s a young woman whose mature music and poetry I have fallen in love with—something I rarely let happen to me, being a happy perfectionist. Poetry is for me the art of depth and beauty and nothing more, really—and so I view it like I view maidens, and choose a book of poems like I choose a maiden with whom to try to carry out something serious or meaningful, depending. A good poem should therefore be self-renewable, so that its keeper can cuddle it tirelessly and, instead of become eventually bored with it, continue to discover its richness at every meeting. So far, only three modern poets have delivered the goodies the way I like it: the brilliant Paul Hostovsky, the great William Hathaway, and the fearless Eseohe Arhebamen with her audaciously titled ‘Jesus of All Niggers’—upon which this concise review is centred as it must.

“…Winter is a cruel time.

Even when sleeping,

the faces don’t smile

and their dreams are frozen

stuck. Sometimes heads pop off

when I pull.

There is science to this…”

—page 38

“…I am eight.

this is what I live:

we double-dutch and fuck young

shake ass like zing zing zing

I ain’t nevah owned a washing machine &

the only way out is up.”

—page 10

“…America will you be mine too?

I will disclose first that I’m black

before we crawl into bed

and even worse, I’m African

I promise I don’t use drugs

and I don’t have AIDS

so you can use my blood…”

—page 42

Attempting to define ‘a great book’, a certain wise article I happened upon had noted that, although it is difficult to get everyone to agree on what ‘the best book’ among equals is, there is usually an easy agreement between judges of awards that certain books are not in the running. I tend to pit literary creations against each other to see which ones rise to the occasion, but that’s after first shaking them, I must say, to see if anything shakes. Then I marry the best achievements, and let them eternally inspire me. And that’s exactly what I have done apropos the poetry of Eseohe Arhebamen—marry them—for, at a time when artists admire their mentors so much they forget that the most vital lesson to draw from their mentor’s success is the priceless importance of being oneself, as nobody ever became truly great without putting their uniquely personal attributes at the forefront of their work, there come the original poems of ‘Jesus of All Niggers’—all striking and mature and powerful and exceptionally beautiful.

“If not but I loved food

how I’d stop eating

sculpt my belly concave,

many meals wheeled by but I’d

shake my head, No thanks…”

—page 32

“…how will the organism survive

if it continues to conquer and divide


you are not black.

you are not white.

you are not left wing.

you are not right.

eliminate racial separations

gender specifications

democratic manipulations

because such conceptions

keep you in a cell…”

—page 17

“Nothing beautiful

comes out

anymore the pen

farts feeling

incites laughter

really, or a shun

How to be pissed

or display a prick

and say it bled

for days- but nicely-

don’t you wish you

had loved me…”

—page 36

But I can’t go for that cup of honeyed camomile without mentioning, of course, that the language of this book is lucid and therefore accessible to the literary and lay mind alike. On top of the good surprise of the book design being top-notch, the good lover of exceptional poetry and art will additionally find that ‘Jesus of All Niggers’—still available, I hope, from Laughing Mouse Press—is also stylishly ornamented with a few image poems, for Edoheart is similarly an accomplished painter. I have never seen a book quite as attractive. A collector will find it an irresistible masterwork.



combing thoughts with my therapist
i find i cannot distinguish
my anger from ambition
the bitter from bite-
size. when was it i became
jesus of all niggers
dedicated to reclaiming the clown?
thorny headed child am i
that cannot run for kicking the road
blaming it that so
many white people have got

—page 27


 Publisher’s link:

                                   A. Gonzaga is a Finland-based wordsmith—writing poetry, prose, and lyrics.

Warsan Shire - Pic cred: The Guardian UK

Warsan Shire – Pic cred: The Guardian UK

Undoubtedly among the best, published poets of the young African generation, Warsan Shire (@warsan_shire) has lent her voice to a campaign by The Guardian to push for education on Female Genital Mutilation in UK schools. The campaign is championed by 17-year old Fahma Mohamed and supported by anti-FGM campaigners. I’m sharing the text and a link to the video here because I believe that FGM must be stopped everywhere it occurs and as an ardent proponent of African poetry, these are the ways the campaign ring with me: through the art.

Warsan Shire won the inaugral Brunel Poetry Prize last year and one of her winning poems, Things We Had Lost in the Summer, is drawn from her experience of growing up in a community of people who have undergone the procedure. This latest poem, Girls, recorded for The Guardian, touches FGM in ways that you may probably never had heard: makes it soft but ragingly powerful and real, brings it to a home setting, puts it on a TV reality show, puts it beside you on your bed, talks to your mother, alludes to the devil’s tongue! I have been a great admirer of Warsan’s work and this adds to the increasing body of powerful poetry she’s challenging the world with. All the world needs to act to ensure FGM doesn’t continue into another generation. The last woman to have suffered it should be the last. We are all responsible and accountable. Copyright for the text belongs to Warsan, credit to Spread The Word for the text. Watch the video performance by Warsan Shire here on the Guardian site.



Sometimes it’s tucked into itself, sewn up like the lips of a prisoner.

After the procedure, the girls learn how to walk again, mermaids with new legs, soft knees buckling under their new stainless, sinless bodies.


Daughter is synonymous with traitor, the father says. If your mother survived it, you can survive it, the father says. Cut, cut, cut.


On a reality TV show about beauty, one girl exposes another girls’ secret. They huddle around her asking questions, touching her arm in liberal concern for her pleasure. Can you even feel anything down there? The camera zooms into a Georgia O’Keefe painting in the background.


But mother did you even truly survive it? The carving, the cutting, the warm blade against the inner thigh. Scalping. Deforestation. Leveling the ground. Silencing the devils tongue between your legs, maybe you did? I’m asking you sincerely mother, did you truly survive it?


Two girls lay in bed beside one another holding mirrors under the mouths of their skirts, comparing wounds.

I am one girl and you are the other.