Oyasumi

She sees in you a bossdom
like the likes seen in a princedom
In her mind, you are fiddle-footed
and prey in blameless grounds

The aura around you is clear-cut
not like the ones preached in Psalms
In her thoughts, you wander every now and then
and your voice, an earworm in her dreams

She knows of the brevity of life
and how swift it goes, sometimes abruptly or well-lived
In her eyes, you remain silver-tongued
and your shadow, always that of a gentle giant

© Prince Kenny, JR.

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Chica

The days are too young to tell a tale
The nights are too insecure to sing
The stars are too bright to shoot
The waters are too cold to boil
But whenever you sleep,
Sleep like there’s no yesterday
Sleep like there’s no today
Sleep like there’s no tomorrow
Cos your heart is safely guarded
In a very good abode
And hopefully,
the days will have tales to tell,
the nights, songs to sing
the waters, excess to boil
And the stars, meteorites to shoot

(c) Prince Kenny JR.

Park Spoor Noord

Time and time again has it been told
Colossal words will be redundant
to clarify the fact of the matter
Who are we to judge?
You, men of today,
who trod namby-pamby
you natter around like week-old chicks
and tessellate in smaller circles,
to dine away your burdened souls
You are ebbing away,
not into the annals of history,
but as disappearing meteorites

So who are you to judge?
You, women of today, who thrive
on inoccent anthers,
to invoke a ripple of approval
from the present
you tessellate unlike your men
in bigger circles
to dine away your troubled hearts
You are all saying your final goodbyes to spring,
maybe actually to Park Spoor Noord

Are You Writing Your Life ?

It’s been a couple of years
after you asked that question
Till now, you’ve never been missed,
due to the presence of your words,
the unplanned meetings in public transport
and honestly, you reside not far from here
You’ve been spotted going out and about
as days turn into years
Sometimes, picking your noble son from school
holding each others’ hands tightly
along the brick-pavement
You must be a proud mother
The spark in your eyes says it all
You’ve also been seen taking strolls
in and around the public park
others call it a recreational park,
with your belly-full
You were carrying in you either a
prince or a princess or even both,
an unborn monarchy
Lately you were seen pushing a pram
you seemed to be in a hurry
Maybe you had an appointment
with a paediatrician
How time runs!
Nine months have just gone by
within a blink of an eye or did you
deliver prematurely?
Anyway what matters most is that mother and child(ren) are healthy
So be it then
But what happened to your plans?
Are you still on them?
Pursuing your goals of becoming a
journalist.
You speak four languages;
Turkish(your mother tongue), German,
English and of course Dutch, right?
Great stuff
My regards to your husband and children
and who knows, maybe we’d bump into each other some day
either in a public transport
or I might see you reporting on TV
or hear your voice on the radio
or meet you at the nearby recreational park with your children
They may be of age by then and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask
if indeed I’m writing my life
Till then, I’ll be preparing for an answer.

Why African Literature ?

Over the past couple of years, I have spent a big chunk of my reading-life, reading and even sometimes re-reading books authored by Africans. This has got nothing to do with me being over-patriotic or too nepotistic but rather in a nutshell as a means of self-rediscovery, or in other words rediscovering my African-ness. I have gotten much enthralled along the line and the relish with which I jump unto my next book or at an opportunity to buy quality African books at a bargain price has grown fervently if not dramatically with time. The question on why African literature is important, is one that has lingered in my labyrinth of mind for quite sometime and I find this medium offered by afrikult requisite to word my thoughts on this very topic.

A couple of months ago, I chanced upon at my local library “The African Trilogy”, a compilation of three novels written by the late Chinua Achebe, namely Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease and Arrow of God. I once again jumped at this opportunity and borrowed the book, even though I had already read all the three novels, separately on different occasions. One would ask why would I decide to read novels I’ve already read. The introduction of this trilogy by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie somehow answers this question. In her introduction, she clearly re-emphasizes on the legacy of Mr. Achebe’s writings, the opportunities and the priceless inspiration he has inadvertently given to writers like herself. She further reiterates that “the strangeness of seeing oneself distorted in literature – and indeed of not seeing oneself at all was part of my childhood. My early writing mimicked the books I was reading: all my characters were white and all my stories were set in England. Then I read Things Fall Apart. It was glorious of discovery. I did not know in a concrete way until then that people like me could exist in literature. Here was a book unapologetically African.” African literature arguably is a journey to self rediscovery and the mannerism, diction and sometimes proverb-filled nuances are a spectacle to behold and this relay how exhilarating African literature is and sometimes the only option left is to read the story again.

Literature is a very indelible compartment of a community’s culture. It plays a huge and formidable role in the way of life of a particular group of people and that is exactly what African literature does. It holds the fibre of the society together. The themes of African literature mimic in every sense of the word the true Africa, they may differ from country to country or from sub-region to sub-region but the stories’ african-ness is always noticeable. African literature brings into light, the daily life experiences of the average African, from various angles and through different nuances which can be as blunt as it can be. These stories can be either real or fictitious and each of the aforementioned has its own sparkle it brings to the whole piece. African literature therefore portrays through the eyes of a native to the outside world what the real Africa is all about, our dreams and innovations, our successes and challenges.

More over, African literature serves as a means of education and entertainment. A new word has even been carved “edutainment” and that says it all. African literature began since time immemorial, from our ancestors telling folk tales every night, while children sat around log fire to get the elephant share of the story till today where every potential idea is being properly documented. It educates us on various aspects of our heritage and the state of affairs of our continent, pointing out categorically to the everyday issues. The imaginations and nostalgia birthed after reading these stories are simply priceless and our creative impetus are being further enhanced.

As culture is integral to the existence of a particular group of people, so is African literature very indelible to all and sundry. The best we can do as a people is to continue to patronize African literature and this will obviously help both the established writers and the up-and-coming writers not to give up on their trade. With all that said, I cogitate also that we make good use of the available materials and platforms that we are very much privileged to have in this generation.

To end this piece, here’s just a line from NoViolet Bulawayo‘s debut novel We Need New Names, “he doesn’t tell Aunt Fostalina she looks good, like I’ve heard other people do; he tells her she looks like sunrise” and that’s the kind of spark African literature brings to the conversation. African literature will forever be as important as ever.

Gone Forever

She misses the days of old
although she weaves her ways
towards her salient dreams
or perhaps, her pallid self.

so now that he has turned into a foe
and who knows as she sways
maybe she’d cease to gleam
and find solace in a darker shelf.

so all is but unclear
that she truly misses the days of old
now that he has turned into a big foe.

Proud Parents

She stood up with an unusual confidence,
wrapped in her typical traditional blouse
she wore a three-quarter trousers, folded at the ends,
similar to how a banker would fold his shirt at his biceps
With a Spanish gray shoe, she was good to go
To stand before the altar,
opposite the seated congregation
to read the day’s gospel
Her presence announced virtue and intelligence
And her tone, that of seasoned globetrotter,
someone who’s schooled and lived in many parts of the globe
I bet she might know all the various flags in the world
Her accent was reasonably difficult to trace but at last, it sounded Canadian
I guess she barely knows or ever visits her home country India
Her parents, obvious expats stare with great relish
beside them, is a young cool headed chap,
I could tell that he is their son, the reader’s brother
I got an inkling that they might be originally from Uttar Pradesh,
a state located in the Northern part of their country,
Lucknow is its capital, that isn’t a coincidence either
You probably haven’t heard of it but I guess you know about the Taj Mahal
Their complexion isn’t the usual ones seen in blockbuster Bollywood movies
Let me put it this way, it looked more sun-tanned or perhaps much darker
From afar, you’d assume that they are Africans or of African descents
Just like the couple seated in front of them
Well, they may be from Nepal, who knows
She continued her reading
as I looked straight in her eyes,
not with the stare of a man known to be lustful
If an uninterrupted gaze could kill,
then I guess I would have
I could hear every sound of every word more clearly
than I ever did in my phonetics class
She paused where necessary and skipped no line
She’d be a great news broadcaster I’d thought
but deep down, I knew she’d be pursuing something
related to the sciences, at UCL perhaps or even at Yale, why not
No place is ever too far for an Indian expat
let alone if it’s in the interest of his child
But all that I’m certain about is that her parents are proud of her
and that she has the entire world at her humble feet
So keep going, you young Indian lady !

NO, SORRY, I, LOVE, YOU.

All the long lost words have been found,
on the rocks scattered along the Mont Blanc
which abutts the towns of Courmayeur,
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Chamonix
On its cradle lies metonym of passion,
tenderness and glee

And from its peak shall these words take flight,
in head-over-heels fashion
to deprecate any pledge to ossify
the extolling, deemed aright

Cos my thoughts have been on long a journey
And now that these long lost words have been found
They will always be the sceptre of fondness
that had to be revealed ages ago
cos ‘No, sorry, I, love, you.’

COVERED DISTANCES

cold, in the mist, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched

across street-signals
meeting hedges
and,
greeting hallows within,
along tram-lines,
left when right,
and right when left

in the fog, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched
in the covered distances

HET PLANTIJN-MORETUSMUSEUM

Het Plantijn-Moretusmuseum is het eerste museum dat ik bezocht in België, om precies te zijn in Antwerpen. Naast de mooie architectuur, heeft dit museum iets leerrijks aan te bieden aan bezoekers. In het museum zie je al de benodigdheden van de drukkersfamilie Plantijn-Moretus die lang geleden in Antwerpen woonden.

Plantijn is oorspronkelijk in Frankrijk geboren maar net voor het midden van de 16de eeuw verhuisde hij naar Antwerpen. Kort daarna begon hij te werken als boekbinder. In zijn drukkerij produceerde hij boeken van hoge kwaliteit en daardoor was hij overal gezocht door schrijvers.

In het museum vind je de hulpmiddelen en gereedschappen waarmee hij zijn job uitvoerde. Destijds was bijna alles handmatig gedaan maar wat vooral opvalt is de precisie van zijn werk. Overal in dit museum zie je boeken en tijdschriften die hij publiceerde. De meerderheid van zijn werken zijn goed bewaard. In het museum is de Spaanse invloed op zijn werk duidelijk op te merken omdat Antwerpen toen geregeerd werd door de Spanjaarden.

De grootse typografische onderneming was zijn werk aan de Biblica regia. Hij kreeg de eretitel als de officiële drukker van de Spaanse koning. Deze kennis leverde hem een groot contract op voor het drukken van missalen en andere religieuze massaproducten voor de Spaanse markt en de naburige kolonies. Veel van die werken zijn te zien in het museum.

Na zijn dood werd de drukkerij overgenomen door zijn schoonzoon Jan Moretus. De drukkerij werd een vergaderingsplaats voor hooggeleerde Antwerpenaren. In 1876 werd het museum volledig verkocht aan de Stad Antwerpen en de Belgische staat. Kort daarna werd het museum geopend voor het publiek om het woonhuis en de drukkerij van de familie Plantijn-Moretus te komen bezoeken.