Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Bulago Island beach. Photo credit: Nkiacha Atemnkeng.

Jambula Tree

When Sylvie and I are six

we eat jambula till our tongues turn indigo

then we travel home with night licking our heels.

In the morning, our foreheads still anointed

in violet blessings, we twine our stick-arms around its branches

and stuff banana fibre dolls in the hollows of its roots.

We swaddle make-believe babies in grass-blankets

and check on them between bouts of hide and seek.

 

Now we are twenty six, in a cafe on a tree-lined street

we sit over Caesar salad and white wine

and Sylvie raises her ring finger to the sun,

‘These hands wash his boxers.’ And I see

a high priestess in a harem

where wives are judged by how well

they wash skid marks off their husband’s underwear,

by how fervently they pray away the cum from his encounters

with sharp-breasted-round-hipped girls.

 

Sylvie will elect for C-Section to stay tight,

her baby will feed on a bottle, her breasts will stay

high,

 

and I, remain

 

watching her mauve-stained soles, matte black lipstick

that will not bleed. Even after drinks.

 

Maybe she bleeds in other ways.

 

“Notice. Lake Kills”

After 26th December, 2015

Rashid, 22,

and his friends

are loping into the lake

as if the water is air,

they are buoyed by a sloe wave,

fingers teasing the tip of a crest,

and we never see them again,

this version of twelve, strappling men, laughing,

gliding into the lake,

how their onyx skin caught the last fires of sun,

how the water embraced them

before they came flopping                          ashore,

like a shoal of blotted Nile Perch.

their corpses surfaced in 24 hours

defying the 3 day rule. Bodies, bobbed, in death triumph. Dark. Still.

 

The post mortems said:

no external injuries

no haemorrages

distendended lungs

Dead. End of story.

 

And we were sucked back                        into the heaving land

 

If there had been an owl

My son

died

the death I should have died,

quietly

– he went –

in his sleep.

 

on that morning

the sun shimmered

like it had showered in gold –

 

I would have understood

 

if there had been an owl –

two hoots (one for each year

he breathed).

and no sun –

for the eternity he would die.

 

 

About the Author:

Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a poet and fiction writer based in Kampala, Uganda. She is the winner of the 2015 Jalada Prize for Literature for her story, “Where Pumpkin Leaves Dwell,” and the 2009 Babishai-Niwe Poetry Award for her poem “Soft Tonight.” Her work has been featured online in Prairie Schooner‘s “Shoes” issue, The Revelator Magazine, Bakwa Magazine, Sooo Many Stories, the Bahati Books anthology Your Heart Will Skip a Beat, Jalada’s Afrofuture(s) anthology, Jalada05/Transition123, and Omenana.

Her work also appears in print in the Caine Prize 2013 Workshop anthology A Memory This Size; the Femrite anthologies Wondering and Wandering of Hearts, Summoning the Rains, and Talking Tales; and in the Babishai-Niwe publication A Thousand Voices Rising. More of her work is forthcoming in the Kenyan publication Kwani?

Her poetry has been translated to Malayam, and is also set to be taught to Grade 8 students in the Philippines as part of a Contemporary African Poetry class. She has been a mentor in the WritivismAt5 Online Mentoring program. She is a 2017 Fellow of the Ebedi Residency in Iseyin, Nigeria.

Tags: ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. He is currently nominated for the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards: Announcing The 5 Shortlists

BP shortlist

We are excited to announce The 5 Shortlists for the 2019 Brittle Paper Awards. Launched in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the […]

“Read Salone, Build Salone”: The First Sierra Leone National Book Fair | 5-7 Dec.

SLNBF

Between December 5 to December 7, Freetown, Sierra Leone, will play host to the Sierra Leone National Book Fair—the first […]

Is There a Quota of 5 Books by African Authors for Every “Best 100 Books of 2019” List?

best of best of best of

As yet another year draws to a close, literary lists of various sorts are once again filling our newsfeeds. During […]

Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans Longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize

Lalami_Laila-1

Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans has recently been longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize. Described on the Aspen Prize’s […]

Apply for SBMEN’s Workshop “Literary Criticism: Judging Dynamic Creative Writing in All Forms”| 23 November

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 8.57.48 PM

The Society for Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN) is calling for applications to its fourth (and last) editing […]

They Say There are Over 50 Translations of Things Fall Apart. Here are 61.

Achebe Translation Cover

How many times have you heard or read that Things Fall Apart has been translated into over 50 languages? And yet, […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.