Corper Kola (6)

in memory of Daniel Reinhold


A vial of the reddest dirt,
A little piece of fried cassava root,
A tin of Nido powdered milk,
A box of tea bags labeled only “Uganda tea bags”
And a stainless kettle (mzungu type) that whistles.

A tiny charcoal stove,
An aluminum pot,
A jar of Royco,
One heaping handful of groundnuts, and
An unopened package of maize flour for posho.

A bag of coffee from the Rwenzori mountains,
Two large handmade baskets
haggled and bought
at Friday market,
A pair of black sandals with colorful decoration,
A necklace of sticky, varnished, paper beads
(ordinarily taken to altruistic western markets),
And a strip of kitenge fabric ripped
from the dress
of a freshly minted

From Nakasero,
the peels of an entire handle
of matooke,
A mango filled with worms,
A perfect pineapple,
A bundle of coriander,
And four of the sweetest,
you can find.

An alarmed padlock,
A circle of brand-new razor wire,
A bow with arrows from Gulu,
A thumb-sized piece of glass
which was embedded in a compound wall,
And the tooth of a guard dog
killed by poison
the TV was stolen.

Four rolled fish skins dried
in the Ggaba sun and shit on
on by at least three different varieties of birds,
one of which must be,
a marabou stork,
A helmet which a foreigner
wears on a boda boda,
Two chapatis and one pancake
from a street vendor in Kabalagala,
At bare minimum, one kilo of meat,
preferably pork, that has been hanging on a hook
in a small
white-tiled butcher’s shack,
in the full sun,
all day,
And a bottle of Heinz ketchup which is clearly not
the same variety, among those 57,
as is taken in

Simsim stored in a Snowman
ice-cream cup,
A snake birthed
from a woman whose husband sought a witch doctor
for the—in retrospect—lesser problem of
too many daughters,
A cup of fried grasshoppers sold
from a large lidded bucket as you drive
through Kibuli
At least a tablespoon
of white ants
from Kireka hill,
And no less than seven
portions of Plumpy Nut.

The fabric-tie a Karamoja child
was using to carry her infant Karamoja sister,
A pair of eyes from a child living
in an orphanage,
One day’s collection of bills and coins
from the man with no hands who begs
near Garden City Mall,
A dusting from the hands of the beggar woman
who uses them to drag
the median
on the days she either forgets or chooses not to bring
her crutches,
And a lock from the unwashed hair
of a madman who wanders
along Ggaba road.
(You absolutely must have a lock of his unwashed hair.)

A yellow jerry can filled with
with rocks from a mine
near Acholi Quarter,
A never hung mosquito net,
An expired condom,
An unused MTN air-time strip
for 5,000 Ugandan Shillings,
And a half-finished pack
of anti-malarials from any (every) slum home.

One pill from an anti-retro-viral regimen
given out by USAID,
The legal documents in five international adoptions
from orphanages
in which the children are not, in fact,
The placenta from any one
of hundreds of women who died giving birth, waiting for a doctor
A Mulago waiting-room hospital chair,
bloodstained from a boda accident,
And no less than three bachelors degrees
bought with money,
from Makerere University.

One loudspeaker, from a corner-store mosque,
A microphone from a born-again church,
The clerical collar of a Catholic or Anglican priest,
A Bible tract left by a missionary,
And an advert from a Pentecostal healing ministry which,
if we’re being honest,
charges a fee.

Three long ties and one suit jacket,
Enough high heels to fill a laundry basket,
Omo soap, at least one small package,
An entire bottle of jik,
And a capful of tap water, well water, or other un-purified water.
The ashes from a man who was
burned alive
when caught in the act
of thieving,
A used tire and stick the kids next store played
with yesterday,
An empty sachet of gin or other spirit,
The smallest bottle of Uganda Waragi you can find,
And a plate of chips from anywhere.

The hat of that one and only
no-bribe traffic cop in Nsambya,
One of the very few signs
in town that actually says STOP,
The blood from a machete
on which a chicken
was recently slaughtered,
The grinding wheel from one of the bicycles
which knife-sharpens
when it’s peddled,
And an entire bundle of used American clothing
which is undermining the local textile market.

From a jackaranda tree, six blossoms
One spikey piece from a jackfruit tree,
A hoof-sized chunk of sugar cane,
A pinch of sand from Victoria’s shore,
And a palm frond used to decorate a motorcycle
in a makeshift political rally.

Now burn it all
in black, plastic bags
at the hottest point of the day
in dry season,
these Kampalan artifacts, as if
they were yours
to consume,
to study.

the culture,

the carcinogens.
And, exhale. Your, love.




About the Author:

Portrait - AwosanyaA. Awosanya has a BA in Community Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Currently, she lives in east Africa with her husband and son. She loves reading, writing, and spending time in the literary community where she facilitates writing sessions and workshops (and generally causes trouble). She’s obsessed with marabou storks, street preachers, and other peculiar things in her current environment.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “Kampala Love Spell (A Westerner’s Preparation) | by A. Awosanya | African Poetry” Subscribe

  1. Pat Aiello 2016/08/09 at 9:03 am #


    Gritty, accurate, compelling, haunting!


    Love Dad

  2. Amadi Lucky A 2016/08/09 at 5:24 pm #

    wow,gridly crafted,master piece and classic tap nud

  3. Napoleon Esemudje 2016/08/12 at 11:45 am #

    Graphic, pulsating and rich. Living pictures in words! Well done.

  4. Aubrey Hoeffer 2016/08/20 at 3:08 pm #

    The exile forces opposed to Amin invaded Uganda from Tanzania in September 1972 and were repelled, suffering heavy losses. By 22 January, government troops in Kampala had begun to quit their posts en masse as the rebels gained ground from the south and south-west.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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