Gary-Stephens

My button was brown but pink in the inside, I liked looking at it,
The way it curled at the top, and tucked in at the bottom to protect itself.
Blue buttons, small ones.
Beauty my rabbit teddy had really nice large pink buttons on her dress.

Bathing for the party with Sissy Memuna, every drop of water counted
I washed my button well I was happy,
I was going to a party

Down the bushes, and highways,
Poda Poda’s drove off in the distance
We walked.
Wet muddy grounds swindle in my toes, and the rain drops on the blades of every grass smiled at me

Big women,  lappas  large breasts  out
Bright colorful waist beads
like the ones old mama Baindu  would have me wear every Christmas she visited
When they would shut the door  and whisper to mama about adult things

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Mama shed tears,
No music, no party, just screams
We sat in a line my clothes taken from me and a cold white chalk  painted on my body

We sat in the Baffa and waited, me and twelve other girls
Memuna, marion, mariama from class 4 , Fati the girl who sold oranges every day,
It was all of us

“Lay down” , beads shaking,
1-2-3 flash!
Burning button, Hot Button.
No party music  just our screams.
The  razor, the calabash with the green leaves.

Kicking, screaming for my button, the one I looked at upside down,
The one I asked mommy for her mirror for me to see it well.

My button hurt,
It bled.,
It screamed for me to run for it, but I couldn’t.

Sing and dance they would say the few days after, silence and tears
Fati was quiet very quiet. We couldn’t sing our buttons were crying, we were crying.

My button doesn’t sing to me anymore
I wonder what mommy’s button looks like, I wonder.

 

{This poem is part of a “16-day campaign to end gender based violence which occurs during the period of November 25th to December 10th.”}

 

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Image is by Gary Stephens via African Digital Arts. See more of Stephens’ images HERE

 

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About the Author: 

Portrait-Moiyattu-MbanyaMoiyattu is a native of Sierra Leone, a Digital Mover and Shaker, Feminist and a Writer. She currently teaches women studies courses at Temple University in the United States as well as does international consulting with Social Enterprises in West Africa.  She is Founder of Women Change Africa www.womenchangeafrica.com . Moiyattu is also a member of the African Women Writers Community.