February 1, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st




Refugee Child



Marasmus-belly, bonny chest,

Naked feet, diseased hair,

Browner than a monkey’s hip;

In a queue of sick-looking chaps,

With bowls of soup smaller

Than that of Oliver Twist;

Struggling in the line

For halfcocked compact food,

In the little pale hands.


Mummy stood in the milling crowd,

Shouting her head off

At the camp commandant

For crossing her only name

Off the book of the white man;

She dared split the commandant’s

Owl-head-like head open;

For laughing at her sucking

Woes of the long lasted war.


Daddy was in a big sleep;

In his underground home,

Where this long queue was unseen,

And yet yonder behold

The crying eyes in the rain;

It is my mummy again,

Wanting the commandant’s head opened.

Today, I wonder why I was confined

Like battery caged chicken in

This concentration camp.


I believe daddy watched over us,

As he continued reciting his rosary;

I believe he has forgotten

The names of his manslaughters,

As his widow and orphan

Collected the dust of the ashes,

The ashes of the burning ‘Labeja’,*

And the roaring ‘Nwangi Lions’.*

This death’s home just a relief

From sleeping under the cold bush.



*1. ‘Labeja’ was a type of strange fire that would spark off by itself on people’s grass-thatched houses anytime during daytime in most of the camps in Northern Uganda (majorly in Acholiland / Kitgum and Gulu) and burn hectares of houses. It just popped up like a ghost. People (the victims of the circumstance) believed that it was sent to them by the gods of Museveni in power.

*2. ‘Nwangi’ was yet another strange lion-like beings that would scratch people’s bodies at night in those concentration camps or death’s camps in Acholiland. In the morning only bloody fingerprints would be seen on the bodies of the victims. It was like daytime nightmares. The same was believed to have been sent by/from the same source.





Under the Bush



Wet winds cut against skins,

Wet grasses on the ground,

Wet blankets on the ground,

Wet bodies on the ground,

We slept in the wet days of blood,

Wet flesh of the killed at home.


Under the bush mum whispered,

‘My only son, are you still alive?

God lives! Let there be God!’

Death at home, death in the bush,

Cold nights are better than death,

Better suffer but live

Than enjoy but be dead;

Under the bush I danced naked

With tree-stems as my girlfriends;

And ate the cooked flesh of a witch,

As the priest denied God’s presence

In the sight of the killing machine.


Under the bush I was born,

And there I grew up into a man,

Hearing coughing killing machines,

Squeaking rats and rattling snakes,

No human coughing, only silent whispers;

No love but hate, no peace but wars.


Under the bush I married,

In a forceful imaginary marriage,

Hearing the word peace from neighbors.


Under the bush I gave birth,

To imaginary children,

Born with toy-guns in their hands,

Smelling the scent of corpses,

And drinking the live flames,

And breathing white gun-fumes.


O how the world tormented us!

What I saw, smelt, tasted, heard and felt,

Under the bush,

Do haunt me right in my face,

Like the skeleton in the closet,

Fractured but dancing before me.





Like A Thief At Night



Where will the aged be born in the new days,

When this turning earth will be made anew,

When the candles are now caught in a daze,

Where the old good days can’t be renew’d?

Where will the aged be born in the new world,

Where the candles will cost more than the cakes,

When this barren verse will ever be untold,

Where blessed crimes will be like lakes?

Where will the aged be where laws obey dollars,

When steel arms joy in the sorrows overseen,

When wrinkles won’t obey cosmetic pow’rs,

When now none hears the wet tree seen?

We’ll wonder what went wrong or right,

When that day breaks like a thief at night.





The Uninvited Guest



It spoke in tongues,

Metallic tongues of book,

It came like a thief at night,

Like a fire without a smoke,

Through flawless blood,

In a military coup,

Stayed among us here,

It came among us here,

We welcomed it hospitably,

With bread and sweet wine,

Traditional dances and mock fights,

It said it fought for our rights,

But in fact,

It fought for its own rights,

To abuse our rights,

Never did we know it.


It said it was our real brother,

With the skin as black as mine

(Since we gave it that wine)

But unfortunately,

It had a long nose,

That you call trunk,

That I call Ivory,

Out! I was flung!

It flung me out of my house,

With its nose taller than itself,

It stayed in my house,

And altered the rule of my house,

That welcomingly says;

“Good guests know when to leave!”

Into its own rule

That resistantly says;

“Good guests never leave unless by fire!”

So it became our master,

And we became its servants,

It touched the book of laws,

And crowned himself life king

Of the republican jungle.


It introduced numerous rules,

Governing the usage of our ancestral land,

And how we must pay our sin taxes,

It detained its opponents,

And assassinated others,

And advised its advisors,

It mated day and night,

And produced like white ants,

And fed its offsprings on my cassava,

It had a hat bigger than a winnowing pan,

And a heart as blind as a bat,

It thanked milking my cows with ease,

Which became its own cows,

By matter of death and life;

My royal stool became its footstool,

And my servants its slaves,

I was a king in my house,

But now I am a slave king,

Of the black elephant,

The uninvited guest;

Since the white elephant left,

I have never known what you call freedom.






Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st

Kabedoopong Piddo Ddibe’st is a Ugandan Poet/English and Literature teacher, born in Kitgum, an Acholi by tribe, aged 26.

He is from the land ruled by Idi Amin Dada (1971-9), then by Museveni (1986-present), invaded by LRA/Lord Resistance Army under Joseph Kony(1986-2006).

Thus, he comes from a dirt poor family background, a nation where life is at stake.

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