Friday, April 2, 2021

Two Poems - Tọ́pẹ́-ẸniỌbańkẹ́ Adégòkè


At the Kigali Genocide Memorial

I am appalled by the horrors
The human mind is capable of;

I am at the same time comforted
By the great love and devotion it is capable of.

The Rwanda up the Hills 


We crawl along the winding road up the hills
In our coach like a giant rodent. The hills are carpeted 

With lush greens and forest tresses. Kigali sprawls
On both sides of the road, pages in a history book. 

Mists and clouds obnubilate the landscape to the left –
A hand blanketing the delirious tragedy that once seized 

The land, that once seized a people. The scenery to the
Right is a profuse pellucid print of cultivated slopes –

A testament to humanity and the potency of forgiveness,
A testament to the tenacious hope of a country. 

I am in two places at a time too. My mind, a conduit,
A long road between disparate distances. 

I am on the road to Goma setting sights
On the ordinariness of passage; I am travelling

Vicariously in Ranjit Hoskote’s Central Time to Dortmund, 

Bombay, to the dark recesses of history. His Mathematism

And minute details of the sky usher imageries before me.
I bookmark poems as milestones of my itinerary.

Pamela, my seat partner, coils to a foetal posture for a

Quick nap, her head slouches on my shoulder for cushion. 

Rwandan Pentecostalism permeates everything here,
Says Hilde, a friend I had made in Kigali. It is evident 

On the coach now. A popular Nigerian gospel song draws
My attention on the dashboard monitor: 

I’m walking in power, I’m working in miracles,
I live a life of favour, for I know who I am…


We have a stopover at Restaurant Kimaranzara 

I buy food and relieve my bladder and refresh 

My senses before we continue on the journey.

A few passengers disembark along the way, 

A few that just enters take their place. I bookmark some 
Enthrallments on the road: the noise of busy markets

That occasionally filter in through the window;
Lifeless clothes spread on the grass to worship

The sun before life enters into them again;
Springs sweetly cascading down rocks; 

A muddy river that gently irrigates cultivated
Lands; the University of Kigali, Musanze campus; 

The Bank of Rwanda beside it; collections of
Sedimentary rocks across the landscape; 

Bulls pasturing on a field in a village, a
Perfect copy of an imperfect English countryside. 

Now I understand why all these sights and sounds
Are made into the campaign: Visit Rwanda.

I’m grateful these moments passed through me.

I look at the sky, the chronicler of our journey so far, 

For kindness and for warmth. Its light is making salty

Wreaths around my neck. We arrive at our final stop 

In Gisenyi where we take another vehicle for the short 

Ride to the border of Congo-Kinshasa. And then to Goma.

Tọ́pẹ́-ẸniỌbańkẹ́ Adégòkè is an editor, literary theorist, critic and writer from Ibadan, Nigeria. 15/6, as he sometimes likes to be called, has been working on the connectedness of poetry and mathematics. He is the co-founder of Fortunate Traveller, a journal of travel literature. Also, he is the author of Transacting Stories, a chapbook of his travels across Africa, which was published by Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organisation and was part of their exhibition ‘A Volatile Negotiation Between the Past and Present’ at the 2019 AfriCologne Festival, Germany and the12th Bamako Encounters - African Biennale of Photography, Mali. @LiteraryGansta is his alter ego on Twitter. 

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