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African Poetry with editor Vera Ignatowitsch

Early morning rain


It rained heavily this morning

With showers, strong winds and sandstorm

And the wind with big strong hands shaking everything

In sight. There I perched.


It rained, strongly

And a bird in its apartment is drenched

But it continues to sing sweet songs in that rain

Sweet birdly songs even in that heavy morning rain!

My Niger Beckons Me


This call in this strange land is heavy

The coast around smiling, in this land of smiling coast.

Here I am a stranger treading the smiling coast

Like the flow of the River Gambia

But my Niger beckons me now, what a strong call

Of my land, my people and my own.


The River Gambia smiles, and sparkles with its smiling coast

But the pull of the Niger is stronger than such smiles

What? The Niger calls and beckons me, its water waters my veins

And it calls and calls as I watch the Gambia flow


I must go home

I am bound by my land by the waters

And the butterflies of this river, and its smiling coast.

Will not my presence steal? I am bound to the Niger by blood

And its invincible presence flows in me to home


The Niger beckons me home, a stranger in this strange smiling


Sleepy, I exchange the River Gambia for my Niger

Yes, it is really time to go back home.

Banjul this afternoon


I can’t comprehend this weather

as the sun goes laughing

in this cold round the town,

the birds off the sky and songless, but

the roads are colour mixed — blacks and whites.

While blades of grass ice flattens down.


This cold is killing

imprisoning me to my jacket, yet

the whites and natives seem to celebrate it,

welcome fewer birds with green and yellow throats

& hens uncertain of their notes.

This weather reminds me of Naija* and its blessing.


*Naija means Nigeria



Obinna Chilekezi is an insurance practitioner trained as a librarian and journalist, and has had a book published. His poems have been published in anthologies such as New Nigerian Voice and Young West African Poetry. He won the African Insurance Organisation Book Award in 2016.

Once A Lover, A Fool Forever


Haven’t you heard of the fairy tale

That took heroes to their graves?

It revolves around black hair.

When the wind blows its magic

Eyes speak in silence

The mind, the breath, ignite a dream.


Pour your lips and swallow my breath

I will sip them like my Ceylon tea.

It is nothing, but a drink of eternity.

When it’s love say it with sealed eyes.

Say nothing; I will hear its voice

From the toy beneath your ribs

Let the cotton in your palm walk

And travel along my blood

Behold! Your breath calls my name

Calling it to the lonely cold night

Where the snowflakes roam.

There, we will dance and chat.


Oh God! Is this love or a revelation

That’s pouring sugar in my wound?

Alas! Don’t turn around

Do not kiss me goodbye fair love

The fragile times will be true

And the moon will lend us its light.

Then I will taste your breath.

Heaven, earth, sea or ocean

Whichever one I can give —

But at the end

The statue is made of clay.



Sa’id Sa’ad is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and short story writer. He has received short story and essay awards. His story, “My Narrow Escape From The Gloom,” won the Peace Panel Short Story Prize. He co-authored the poetry book Reunion.
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