A Seat at the Table

By: Elizabeth Wayua Ndinda  
English Instructor at Akilah Institute, Kigali, Rwanda

This table…
Where is the table?
In a bar with men at 10 pm,
Sipping beers or wines or spirits.
Which she can’t.

My spirit sinks.
Tall, round, no arm rest or padding:
Her seat at the table.
Her rear doesn’t fit on the chair.
Her face oval like an egg.
Her skin spotless.
Shifty eyes, tight lipped.
Her lean figure is stooped so far,
She might be tying her laces.

My soul nosedives,

Scans around; their faces…
Vultures ready to feast
Ever hungry beast,
Each one of them.
She, the misplaced prey.
They are about to play
Introductions game: Name, Position, achievements.
Her, Lame Mrs So, Marital status, number of kids.

Our inspiration plunges into the sea bed.

Squeezing or shoving to get a place at the table?

The Praise of Power

By: Sophie Kamariza
Akilah Institute, Kigali, Rwanda

My mother is knowledge
Not only fetched from college
When around, no barrier can stop me
Even carrier won’t promote me
I don’t care for levels or positions
And I won’t be scared with oppositions.

For me, no need for sense of protocol
My presence brings all control
I influence the whole world
Because difference is all I need.

Though walking silently in the yards
Following my fans everywhere
My crown is not hard to wear
For all those pursuing me for years
My footprints last forever
Whoever accepts me can’t lose favor.

I am called Power
Not roaring, but blowing even to the poor
All traces of towns are mine
When I hide I am not gone
When back I am multiplied by nine

In front of difficulties I find possibility
Never caught in doubts during confusion
All because belief is my infusion
Catch me, own me and get dominion
Save me, protect me as a good companion
Make me a priority: authority will come toward you

Remembering and Forgetting

By: Elizabeth Wayua Ndinda
English Instructor at Akilah Institute, Kigali Rwanda

For a long time, I could only think of what I had been told to think. And this is what I had been told: To remember my past as that is how I could know how to plan for my future. Growing up next to a dumpsite ensured that I had the sites putrid stench almost woven in to my DNA.

First there was the fetid smell of rotten banana peels; the ones that could break your kneecaps if you slipped. Then there was the rancid smell of rotten avocado which had been crushed my scavengers in this rainy season to ensure the perfect mix of green black and the brown of mud. Next there was the smell of decaying pads…which sometimes had big clots hidden within them, some thick yellow pus or even little feces. It appeared as if human being buried not only their wastes in the dump but also their souls.

There were also babies’ diapers. They came with all sorts of cargo. From liters of pungent Urine, to runny green diarrhea, to the firm yellowish type that you could easily confuse with pawpaw. Some rodents usually did…eating gleefully.

One day, a street child visited the landfill on a different mission, Instead of scavenging for food, he had a sack; ready to harvest. I remember wondering why the air stung my nostrils. My nose ached. Why could he not just put me down? Through a hole in the sack, I looked longingly back at my home, my filthy stinking comfortable home.

 

The neck gets sore from looking in one direction.

 

As the site of my home grew dim, I ached. From the shoving and pushing of everything the urchin had picked, I was almost squashed. The weight of the other stuff was almost overpowering. …I must have slept for a long time or lost consciousness because the next time I came to…there was an excruciating pain in my chest. This was completely alien to me. For a fleeting moment, I wondered why all those men of the cloth had lied to us about heaven, the afterlife, paradise. Did I really go to hell? Where was the fire? Could there be pain in heaven.

My eyes slowly gained focus on the familiar objects that had been uprooted from the garbage dump. Instead of enjoying the air, I ached for what I had always had. How I miss my stinking hole. Tears well in my eyes, nostalgia is almost killing me; then I remember:

 

The neck gets sore from looking in one direction.

 

My very existence depends on whether I remember or I forget. What should I do seeing that I do not even know how to choose?