Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Where Your Children Are

Enlarge poem

We reek of foreign
Of hotels with grand chandeliers in the lobby
of women who wear perfumes made in Paris
shoes with Italian names
and carry south Korea in their purse.

We reek of loss
Shadows in the midst of crowds searching for familiar faces like ours
familiar faces of which there are none
perhaps only in the night light when we walk swift
with no clue where we’re really going.

We reek of belonging
Tucked away in the crevice of Shinsaibashi dancing
5am to the sounds of Fella Kuti and Prince Nico Mbarga singing ‘Sweet Mother’
Thoughts of whom we have not forgotten only placed on pause
for a little while longer

We reek of desperate
Cash beating between breasts, pulsating between thighs
to build mansions back home we can call paradise
through these hellish moments

I bet your mother never thought that after bon voyage
came decrepit hotels and men who don’t care that your last name means warrior.

We reek of lonely
Quiet days indoors waiting for a phone call to speak to siblings
three of who are already married, and the others who can’t understand
why haven’t come home. And what
do you tell them?

Tina Abena Oforiwa

Featured Poem:

Higher Learning

Enlarge poem

I can’t explain why my father left.
I remember the mug in the kitchen filled
with half a cup of coffee, an ash tray with
half a Marlboro stick, its fumes still lingering.

Weeks after he was gone his CK cologne
could be smelt everywhere on everything,
reeking of his absence.

Mum took to knitting on Mondays,
Bible study on Tuesdays and on all the
other days would sit in the darkness
the light from the TV flickering,
at times refracting her loneliness.

In this land, he could leave.
Her dark hue was no longer beautiful
the weight of her love was breaking his back.
But Oh, what about Accra?

Or the nights in Kumasi making love to
Fella’s blues?

Over the static line her sisters pray, curse,
dissect his reasoning, repeat in three different
languages that she wasn’t to blame.

“He is a man and men leave,” they say.

Our ears pressed behind the door we ate those
words didn’t we?

That Monday your teacher asked about our father,
apologised in a monotone way that these things
happen and you aren’t to blame.
You regurgitated the knowledge you had acquired
That “he is a man, and men leave.”

Tina-Abena-badilisha

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (3)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

  1. This poem was so beautifully written. I can feel the longing, the want, the desire, the lost romance, the desperation, the need for understanding. I am touched by your writing and by this podcast providing space for writers of the glowing, vibrant African Diaspora.

    I am a writer/spoken word artist from Baltimore, US. I plan to visit Ghana soon and this poem will be on my mind when I do. I shared this poem with many friends. Keep writing. Your words are necessary and engaging. They speak to all that is loved, all that is lost, all that is forgiving those who hurt us and even how we hurt ourselves.

    Your work resounds in the deepest of my spirit, my heart and my humanity. My favorite line was: “Oh, but what about Accra? Or the nights in Kumasi making love to Fella’s blues?”

    Your voice, smooth and full of passion, made me feel for your mother, your father, your family and you. I felt what your mother felt and it was not easy, but true to the pain of heartbreak. Keep being a voice to those experiences in your life. I need to hear them. We need to hear them.

    Your new fan,
    Nakia

    Nakia Brown

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Tina Abena Oforiwa is a London-based, Ghanaian-born creative writer.

Although she has lived in the UK almost all her life, for her Ghana will always be home. She uses poetry as a means to communicate the experience of growing-up outside of her homeland, the feeling of displacement and nostalgia which naturally manifest in varying ways.

For Tina, poetry remains as the ultimate liberating tool. It allows her to speak of things she wouldn’t ordinarily engage with others about on a day to day, and feel no reproach.

Tina Abena Oforiwa

Tina-Abena-badilisha
Tina-Abena-badilisha

Biography

Tina Abena Oforiwa is a London-based, Ghanaian-born creative writer.

Although she has lived in the UK almost all her life, for her Ghana will always be home. She uses poetry as a means to communicate the experience of growing-up outside of her homeland, the feeling of displacement and nostalgia which naturally manifest in varying ways.

For Tina, poetry remains as the ultimate liberating tool. It allows her to speak of things she wouldn’t ordinarily engage with others about on a day to day, and feel no reproach.

Where Your Children Are

Enlarge poem

We reek of foreign
Of hotels with grand chandeliers in the lobby
of women who wear perfumes made in Paris
shoes with Italian names
and carry south Korea in their purse.

We reek of loss
Shadows in the midst of crowds searching for familiar faces like ours
familiar faces of which there are none
perhaps only in the night light when we walk swift
with no clue where we’re really going.

We reek of belonging
Tucked away in the crevice of Shinsaibashi dancing
5am to the sounds of Fella Kuti and Prince Nico Mbarga singing ‘Sweet Mother’
Thoughts of whom we have not forgotten only placed on pause
for a little while longer

We reek of desperate
Cash beating between breasts, pulsating between thighs
to build mansions back home we can call paradise
through these hellish moments

I bet your mother never thought that after bon voyage
came decrepit hotels and men who don’t care that your last name means warrior.

We reek of lonely
Quiet days indoors waiting for a phone call to speak to siblings
three of who are already married, and the others who can’t understand
why haven’t come home. And what
do you tell them?

Featured Poem:

Higher Learning

Enlarge poem

I can’t explain why my father left.
I remember the mug in the kitchen filled
with half a cup of coffee, an ash tray with
half a Marlboro stick, its fumes still lingering.

Weeks after he was gone his CK cologne
could be smelt everywhere on everything,
reeking of his absence.

Mum took to knitting on Mondays,
Bible study on Tuesdays and on all the
other days would sit in the darkness
the light from the TV flickering,
at times refracting her loneliness.

In this land, he could leave.
Her dark hue was no longer beautiful
the weight of her love was breaking his back.
But Oh, what about Accra?

Or the nights in Kumasi making love to
Fella’s blues?

Over the static line her sisters pray, curse,
dissect his reasoning, repeat in three different
languages that she wasn’t to blame.

“He is a man and men leave,” they say.

Our ears pressed behind the door we ate those
words didn’t we?

That Monday your teacher asked about our father,
apologised in a monotone way that these things
happen and you aren’t to blame.
You regurgitated the knowledge you had acquired
That “he is a man, and men leave.”

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (3)
  • Pride (2)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (0)

Where Your Children Are

Enlarge poem

We reek of foreign
Of hotels with grand chandeliers in the lobby
of women who wear perfumes made in Paris
shoes with Italian names
and carry south Korea in their purse.

We reek of loss
Shadows in the midst of crowds searching for familiar faces like ours
familiar faces of which there are none
perhaps only in the night light when we walk swift
with no clue where we’re really going.

We reek of belonging
Tucked away in the crevice of Shinsaibashi dancing
5am to the sounds of Fella Kuti and Prince Nico Mbarga singing ‘Sweet Mother’
Thoughts of whom we have not forgotten only placed on pause
for a little while longer

We reek of desperate
Cash beating between breasts, pulsating between thighs
to build mansions back home we can call paradise
through these hellish moments

I bet your mother never thought that after bon voyage
came decrepit hotels and men who don’t care that your last name means warrior.

We reek of lonely
Quiet days indoors waiting for a phone call to speak to siblings
three of who are already married, and the others who can’t understand
why haven’t come home. And what
do you tell them?

Comments

  1. This poem was so beautifully written. I can feel the longing, the want, the desire, the lost romance, the desperation, the need for understanding. I am touched by your writing and by this podcast providing space for writers of the glowing, vibrant African Diaspora.

    I am a writer/spoken word artist from Baltimore, US. I plan to visit Ghana soon and this poem will be on my mind when I do. I shared this poem with many friends. Keep writing. Your words are necessary and engaging. They speak to all that is loved, all that is lost, all that is forgiving those who hurt us and even how we hurt ourselves.

    Your work resounds in the deepest of my spirit, my heart and my humanity. My favorite line was: “Oh, but what about Accra? Or the nights in Kumasi making love to Fella’s blues?”

    Your voice, smooth and full of passion, made me feel for your mother, your father, your family and you. I felt what your mother felt and it was not easy, but true to the pain of heartbreak. Keep being a voice to those experiences in your life. I need to hear them. We need to hear them.

    Your new fan,
    Nakia

    Nakia Brown

Your email address will not be published.