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African Writing Archives


Richard Ugbede Ali

Richard Ugbede Ali


Ali is a Nigerian writer born in Kano, Nigeria. He read law in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and served as Editor, Sardauna Magazine, Zaria {2004-2006} and Chairman, Creative Writers Club, Zaria {2007}. His influences are Federico Garcia Lorca, the oriental poets {Rumi, Abu Nuwas, Omar Khayyam} and the “oral” poems of Niyi Osundare. He is currently working on his debut novel, The Legacy of Bolewa.


 5 Poems

Buddha Child

Dreadlocked child sitting amidst

The fleeting cinema of urban feet

Child in Buddhic squat, palms between thighs

Folded correctly

Forlorn on a city pavement


They do not see you, mendicant child

But I do


And I know you too are on your way

Maybe you’ll be a rasta someday




Lady Butterfly

{For Amina Hassan Saba}


Like butterflies alighting on happy petals

Of yellow roses blooming amidst the spreading moss

Of time; so the gentle flutter of her wings

Intrigues and runs a ripple of waves through me


And I think how this warm patch from the rains

Tarries while all has gone to dust

And in the passing beauty of my reverie

I recall a life, fair and evergreen


Though dark clouds gather and moss spreads

To smother human hopes with grey hairs

I turn my eyes inside and find inspiration

In that delicate defiance of butterflies and roses




Blighted Rose

I sketch the lines of your face

And feel the contours of what you’ve seen

Now that your flower is full unfurled

And merely awaits a withering


I saw it from your first budding

That it would end so familiarly

I knew the half hope of truth denied

Demands its full measure in time


Now you have learnt how to love

Now you know the truth

And there is nothing I can tell you

Of the blight that feeds on us all




We Died Because

We died because we wore caftans

And faced east to pray


We died because we spoke a tongue

That differed from theirs who held the guns


We died because we didn’t have

The bribe to give the faulty rifle

At the police post


we died in a flow of red because

our parents refused that in us

they should be born again


And I

I hear of these related deaths

And I cradle my violin to weep bitter tears

For I am we

And We used to be human together

Not long ago.




A Dark Ghazal

Infernal pointsman destroying space-time

Shattering science in a million frissons of glass

This is the end of the fury – the mad scribbling

The chill of waiting to pen perfect roses


Whirlwinds rage on, but I am innocent of dust

My imperfect lines throb as if they still live

The market still pulses with life


I tell you

Fortitude and solitude are one

The same with wine and women and art

Cold mistresses teasing flames in temples

Parched with thinking, longing

And forgetting



Life shatters into a million frissons

And I step out into the light

Killing the man in the mirror.

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