Suncolor's Blog

Archive for November 2011


story by john otim

Oh it was a night

Early last year I returned home to Uganda after years of teaching on a Nigerian campus. To my surprise I found that Nollyhood, the Nigerian equivalent of Hollywood, had taken over the local video scene. It was generating a lot of interest in all things Nigerian especially the Nigerian woman. Friends would stop me on the streets and ask. Are Nigerian girls that cute? How would you compare to East African women. Are they that sexy?

I told the story of my encounter in Lagos years ago. When at the arrival hall a uniformed official confronted me. It was my first time in Nigeria. Nothing hostile mind you, Nigerians are a warm and friendly people. Anyhow the official demanded my passport, whereupon I surrendered.

You are a teacher? She asked, as she scanned through my details.

Yes! I nodded. Whereupon she looked me in the face, straight and direct in the eyes as only a Nigerian can. She said or rather commanded.

Teacher! Teach me!

I was nearly put of balance but I considered the prospects. And for the first time I saw beyond the uniform. She smiled. I smiled. We exchanged personal information. And I thought no more of it. Weeks later at my new quarters at the Ahmadu Bello University up in northern Nigeria during the cold months of the harmattan far from steamy Lagos on the coast there was a gentle knock on my door one evening.

And there she was: my uniformed interlocutor at the arrival hall, adorned in national costumes, totally transformed, a more beautiful woman I never saw. The words returned to me. Teacher! Teach me!

John Otim
Kampala Nov 2011

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the coup de tat
by john otim

on this dream campus
in the middle of a once
great European empire
were gathered the youths
of the world

this glittering citadel
was once the center that ravaged
his far away land

among these youths
were the descendants
of the spoilers

he searched for them
a glittering charming lot
bright of face

where were the slave lords
the brigands and the pirates
in these comely youths

he turned where laughter was
there he found them

a group of his own kin
in a spirited chat
with a company of Orientals

chinese
indians
arabs and others
empire victims
all

in the soft lights of the lofty hall
where once dined and wined
heroes of empire
where trophies of empire still glitter
their deep hues glowed
their manner self assured

he listened for a while
fascinated by the flow
of their new dialectics

a burmese student
a girl of singular beauty
exile from thailand
enthused over a borderless future
seamless without exiles

when sky trains will link
the entire universe
and new technologies
bring the people together
in a festival of peace and love

try as he may he could not
take his eyes away from her
and she appeared no older
than his own sister

he listened till his spirits
subsided
and the sense of something
about to happen
overtook him

he found himself reliving
the days of his fore fathers
great sportsmen
folks much abused now

folks that once held sway over
endless fertile plains
herding their flocks
in the bounty of nature

while shepherds watc their flock by night
all seated on the ground
the ange of the Lord came down
and glory shone around

suddenly it was as though he shared
those moments with the shepherds
as though he had been there
as thoug he lived their lives

and now before him rose new nations
new peoples cleansed and purified
filled with new life

it was a continent on the move
on the march to the beat of its
own drummers

he did not know
but he found himself humming
the beat of the anthem
of Christendom

onward Christian Soldiers
marching as to war
with the cross of Jesus
going on before
click

he relished the thought
of his imminent departure
and homecoming
and of the task that lay ahead

a vision crossed his mind
a dazzling la jeune fille

daughter of th royal house of payira

And every strangest face I see
reminds me that I long to be
home ward bound

I wish I was homeward bound
home where my thoughts escaping
home where my music’s playing
home where my love lies waiting
silently for me
click
(Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel)

the great song wheeled inside his head
the great hall stirred with the energy
and the scent of youth
he knew now the meaning of the word
equilibrium

midway through the evening
as he laid plans for a new tomorrow
and looked forward
to a new world on the tropics
a hand signalled him

from the large screen
at the far corner of the great hall
news came through
a clean mechanical voice
a pretty face tore through him
but he listened on

I listen to the wind come howl
telling me I have to hurry
 I listen to the robins song
telling me not to worry
 hu hu hu hu
click

beep beep beep: beep beep beep
breaking news breaking news

reports are coming in of a military coup
in the mountain capital
where a few hours ago fighting broke out
between opposing units of the armed forces

reports reaching us speak of complete
pandemonium
hundreds have been killed
thousands wounded
many more on the march

throngs of mainly poor peole
are on the move on their bare feet
carring their meager possessions
on their bare backs

they are presumably headed
for the safety of the rain forests
like their fore fathers had done
before them
nothing changes in these parts

I’ll never let you see
the way my broken heart is hurting me
I got my pride and I know how to hide
all my sorrows and pain
I will do my crying in the rain
click
(Everly Brothers)

the reality today
on this hilltop capital
of this landlocked country
under bewitching blue skies
is pure nightmae

martial rule has been declared
by the new military authorities
a dusk to dawn curfew imposed

after what appeared eternity
of continious barrage
the noise of automatic weapons
and shell fire
have died down

Amazing Grace how sweet
how sweet the sound that saves
a wretch like me
was once lost and now am found
was but now I see
click

as I speak a dazzling sunset
glides down the orizon
beneath this fairyland
once thought the abode of the gods

Caroline Cool
CNN News Mountain Capital

bittersweet memories
that ‘s all I’m taking with me

so goodbye please don’t cry

we both know
I am not what you need

and I will always love you
I will always love you
click

(Whitney Houston)