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Paula Akugizibwe



Paula Akugizibwe

Akugizibwe was born in Nigeria to parents of Rwandan and Ugandan origin and raised largely in Southern Africa. She considers herself a happily pan-African nomad. She is currently based in Cape Town where she coordinates a regional project on HIV, TB and human rights advocacy.



 Four Poems


Where does all the hatred go?
For god forbid we let it show –
Is it vaporized by good intentions?

We’re moving on – but to what end?
When fractured lives are yet to mend
From all the things we do not dare to mention?

Can purple mitigate the past?
Can reconciliation last
When we know not what lurks beneath the surface?

Deep wounds repaired with hasty stitches;
And please, do not scratch when it itches –
Lest we awake an infected subconscious.

Fear or hope? I cannot say.
But hate cannot be hoped away
And unity imposed is underwhelming.

I’d rather hear hate loud and clear,
And feel its bite, and go from here
In honesty and painful understanding.




On Peer Review Mechanisms

"What other countries have taken three hundred years or more to achieve, a once dependent territory must try to accomplish in a generation if it is to survive. Unless it is, as it were jet propelled, it will lag behind and thus risk everything for which it has fought.” – Kwame Nkrumah, 1957

And Robert smiled. For fear is power.
And power is money. And freedom is sour.

And Thabo evaded. And no-one persuaded.
And violence pervaded. And faith slowly faded.

And Mwai learnt quickly. And New Year’s was bitter.
And mothers wept blood. And Yoweri tittered.

And we sigh. And we cry. And we die. And we die.
And we die. And we die. And we cry. And we sigh.

And the peers don suits in fancy hotels,
At shiny glass tables, in money-glass shells,

With dirty linen in briefcases on floors,
And promises lost beyond the closed doors,

And review and re-teach how fear is power,
How power is money, how freedom is sour.




The Preacher in the Market

I saw him once, on market day,
sweat pouring down his frantic face.
His eyes flashed with divine ire,
his words were of eternal fire
destined for the fallen-from-grace.

He held no holy book aloft,
offered no mountain-moving prayers –
His discourse was a warning bell;
his currency, the fear of hell;
his passion fuelled by curious stares.

He spoke in tones of urgency
and overwhelming certainty –
“Divine justice is imminent:
All saints rejoice, sinners repent,
and unrepentant sinners, flee!”

Though life’s charades did not concur,
the End was near, he had no doubt.
An esoteric prophecy
that only ordained eyes could see
declared time swiftly running out.

I walk that way again, but not
a trace of him I see, nor yet
a sign of the apocalypse.
Just acrid smells of fish and chips.
What did he look like? I forget.

Perhaps he looked like faithful Noah:
Watching, waiting beside his ark
for water to fall from the sky
while all around him, passers-by
sniggered at his lunatic lark.

But now, what flood have we not seen?
We struggle with the need to know
whether such steadfast faith is rooted
in solid truth, or as refuted
in a theologised Godot.

It’s any body’s guess. And countless
market days have come and gone –
I wonder where he is today,
and if his faith has ebbed away
as time stumbles mundanely on.




Drift Away

For L

I think
Enough melodramatics,
Almost - or not at all – convincing
The Whatever Zombies.

I think
No more shouting,
Frantic pleading,
Futile striving for the genesis
Of Consciousness
Against a wall of indifference.

I think I am dejected,
Angry, Frustrated,
Where love is rejected
In deference to violence,
My words are deflected
Off the stony silence.

I think it was silent in the graveyard that day.
I think I should take you to see where she lay.
If that will not move you,
What more can I say?

I think I wish I was a bit more blasé.
Then I could stop thinking and just drift away.

drift away
i could stop thinking
and just drift away  

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