Image by Dirk Schmitt from Pixabay


We humans live in a world where strong emotions
Break into small pieces and remain silent
Sometimes forever, sometimes not
Our memories sleep very late; they awaken
In our minds when history repeats itself somewhere
Whenever I hear the voice of death
I think of my Uncle’s mother, Yandama
Who travelled to heaven beyond her family’s thoughts
Leaving us with endless tears in our hearts
She never said goodbye
I can still remember her shining face and sweet smile
Her friendly character and the language of her body
She was kind-hearted to little children
Keeping her food to share with us
But she hated thieves and liars
I remember how she warned me not to whistle
Because such sounds invited evil spirits
Anytime I did she would say in Themne
‘Tae soh yoyeh Sorie lol’; don’t do that again!
My imagination brings her face closer to mine
Her weeping eyes that hid from thick smoke
Bursting from wet fire wood
As she made local black soap with native palm oil
To soothe our bodies during Harmattan season
When rough winds tried to dry and crack our skin
She always enjoyed seeing me in my school uniform
Which she stitched and mended many times
She never said goodbye to me on the day I left her
Eating boiled maize for breakfast before I went to school
Yandama, the grandma I greatly admired, goodbye again today

Ibrahim Sorie Bangura, aka Cleffy, is a Sierra Leonean poet and musician. Born in 1992 in a subsistence farming village; he migrated to Freetown in 2011 to escape rural poverty, surviving on the streets for several years before joining WAYout Arts. His poetry is strongly inspired by oral story telling traditions overlaid with the beats of urban youth culture. Cleffy’s work has appeared in Write the City, Praxis Magazine Online and Written Off, an anthology of poems and stories from the streets of Sierra Leone. He is currently working on a poetry project supported by the Prince Claus Fund.

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