photograph by Duncan Lessing


When I recall the colours of my childhood memories
I fall asleep hoping to enjoy those moments in my dreams, but
I’m living now where all I dream about is fighting poverty
I miss the moments when our relatives called my friends and I monkeys

We played like monkeys; hanging upside down in Mango trees
our toes clinging onto strong branches, swinging bare-chested
in big, baggy trousers tied around the waist with shoelaces
I miss the days when I knew nothing

about the world: but I realised when I was hungry
I would go to the village stream with friends
to swim freely; catch and eat fishes for our supper
In those days my eyes never saw the piles of bodies

on TV caused by Ebola – blame was cast on eating bush meat
I remember my food bowl; it had a small hole where my soup escaped
leaving me grumbling and my belly rumbling unless I sucked it quickly
I even miss the times when a cousin came to eat with me

He was canny; he invented a game
whereby no rice should touch the ground while we ate
If one of us dropped a single grain, he must watch his eat-mate play
My cousin always won. I miss all those moments, it was fun

to watch my uncle dancing to Ghanaian house party music
on the radio at home; the way he controlled his heavy, leather shoes
not to cause any shoe accidents by squashing someone’s toes
But what I miss the most is our compound; playing balance ball

in the rain, boys against girls – love came alive
I miss the moments when we played like monkeys
I miss my food bowl, I miss my uncle dancing, I miss our compound
I miss the moments when I knew nothing about the world

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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