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  Femi Osofisan
  Tanure Ojaide
  Brian Chikwava
  Hugh Hodge
  Helon Habila
  Muhammad Jalal A. Hashim
  Ogaga Ifowodo
  Edwin Gaarder
  Harry Garuba
  Toyin Adewale-Gabriel
  Zukiswa Wanner
  Ike Okonta
  Maxim Uzoatu
  George Ngwane
  Ike Anya
  E. E. Sule
  Beverley Nambozo
  Obi Nwakanma
  Matthew Dodwell
  Ikhide Ikheloa
  Afam Akeh
  Femi Oyebode
  Chika Unigwe
  Linda Chase
  Mohamed Bushara
  Wale Okediran
  Niran Ok
  Remi Raji
  Ahmed Maiwada

  Laura King

  Chuma Nwokolo


Edwin Gaarder    

Capoeira Poem

Edwin Gaarder is a Brazilian living in the UK. His Capoeira Poem reflects the struggle for freedom and identity of the African slaves in Brazil from which the Capoeira defence and dance practices developed.



For the continent will never die now.
I know, because of such men and their dreams.
- Femi Osofisan

(i) – a dansa

black shines
in the sun of Bahia
to the sound of cowbells
and the brush of wood on string

black shines
as it spins in the heat
and flies across horizons
throwing backflips without arms

in the distance
just one man stands
and the long extensions
of his hand plays sounds

of liberdade.

(ii) – a luta

man stands today in shades of centuries
wanting nothing but to fight with all his soul
as if it had done wrong to all of us
deprived us of our chains, and foal

black mane with callous hands are tired
of rejecting nothing but the dust, we want ropes
to run from, men to struggle at our backs
so that our tired body frees our endless hopes

we want a vision of Angola lost, to hide
Axé in our hearts for food, and feeding visions
where the God of Christian gods prevents our black
beliefs from losing their redeeming imprecisions

in the dark our white cloth spins
and whitens, white as blood
which doesn’t flow – here we strike
the master with a cold incisive flood

of human strength, we pick the crops and run
our minds across the fields, pick the crops
and run away from sunshine beating on our backs
perhaps – my feet are only blistered props –

if I fight it is for love of freedom or a wish
that we have lost from our masters in the passing
of our time, and yet the fight remains for us to use
in case, against, or if we need to beat our wings

in case, against, or if again we yearn for rain.

(iii) – o ritual

‘a roda’ is our circle
and we clap to those
black sounds within it
that can fly like a canary.

‘o berimbau’ is our cross
saluting it we thrust ourselves
onto the floor and sing,
with rubber legs, to our God.

enclosed within it yet
we call with ‘a chamada’
to the powerful, bringing them
to our bosoms and a dance.

we clasp hands with all and any
that will smile in the roda,
perhaps it is this song that binds
us to the catching of the dust.

(iv) – o jogo

gentle tug
flip and head
the pulling floor
foot to middle
feint to ankle
then a spring
and back
to status quo

smile and deliver
one more kick
point to floor
diverted eyes
and push to lose
his balance.

jinga! then again
another shout
distracted eyes
and here
and there
and push to lose
his balance.

jinga and a shout
a turn, a song
to mermaids starts
a back ground
is rising,
here I fall
again the master
calls and pulls
me to himself,
I learn a game
and when I fall
I am not wise

(v) – a liberdade

é agua de beber!

if only we could have it all to drink
the mestre there to teach us how
the sun gives time to dance and play
the sounds of strings and singing
from the depths of our lungs
a voice from which to draw the deep
the human well of water and the moves.

iê galo cantou!

or if the sun would rise
and shine with such surreal brightness
with heat on our homes in Europe
if we’d wake and wonder where
had gone our human drive for freedom
and the pleasure of a farm at dawn

if the bird would sing.

one man can write of freedom
and one man can write of dance
but only men, and all men dance,
can sing of freedom, only men
can spread the word.

iê viva meu deus!

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