Small Boy


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Image: Google Image



The elders say our country is rich that is why we have so many problems. This does not make any sense. In fact, it sounds like rubbish. A rich man does not suffer, only the poor one so I don’t understand why they say the country is rich when we are suffering like this. When did richness become a problem? They say something about mineral resources—the root of our problem, what does that even mean? I don’t really know because it’s been long since I go school.


The warm wet salty substance that seeped through his lips jolted him awake. He almost broke into a run but was stopped by a violent kick from someone towering above his body zipping up their trousers.

‘Where do you think you are going?’ He heard whispers and laughter around him.

‘Stand up!’ a voice thundered.

His snail-like response was rewarded with another kick on his side, which made him stagger. He lifted himself off the ground slowly accompanied with pain from his spine to his head and the rest of his body. His head felt heavy and throbbed so much that it seemed like his heart was beating from there. He felt so weak and scanned his surroundings to figure out where he was.

‘Stand properly! Like a soldier!’ The same voice bellowed. The man who was above him earlier, slapped the back of his head so hard, he was surprised his legs didn’t betray him.

‘Are you deaf? Master said you should stand properly’ he said.

Small boy followed the order. The unpleasant taste of blood and urine in his mouth riled his stomach. He felt digested contents rise to his throat but managed to suppress it. It was difficult to combine focusing on what Master was saying and trying to figure out where he was or how he got there. He scanned the part he faced as he listened to words flying out of the hefty figure called Master who had a gun slung over his chest, a red strip of cloth tied around his forehead and fingers entwined in front of him. From what he could make of Master’s figure sitting on a tree stump with the help of burning fire not too far from him, Small Boy saw that the last finger on Master’s right hand was missing. His heavy head conjured possible mishaps that could have resulted to the loss. Eight boys possibly his age mates sat on the ground around Master while two older boys fanned him as he spoke. There were more people some sitting on the grass and some standing armed with guns, bayonets, and machetes. Although he couldn’t see behind him, Small Boy could hear screams and sobs from the tent out of sight.

‘Shut them up before I come there to do it myself. Make sure the one spending the night with me is tamed. I don’t want a noisy fowl I’d be forced to strangle.’ yelled Master.

The noise was too much for his head to accommodate and his backside cried for a seat. His rumbling stomach made him remember he hadn’t eaten. Then he remembered it was the same wretched stomach that put him in the trouble. He couldn’t run fast enough. Pointing at a figure tied to a pole not too far from the gathering, Master continued, ‘you see that man over there? That’s your first assignment tomorrow. To kill the enemy without sympathy.’

Small Boy’s eyes blurred from tears as he turned to look at his first assignment, in shape of a man whose head slumped over his chest with bloodied face and looked like death was about to snatch his soul in seconds.

‘If you try to escape, I’ll send you on an errand to heaven. Do you understand?’

‘You’ll deliver a message to God from Master.’ shouted someone from the gathering, which made everyone laugh.

‘Do you understand?’ Master’s unsmiling mouth repeated.

‘Yes, sir!’

‘There is nowhere to run to. You are part of us now. Your family is gone and… ‘

His eyes widened in shock. Gone? What did he mean by gone? Small Boy felt hot and cold at the same time on his insides as tears slowly crawled down his cheeks. He felt the sudden need to itch his body as his chest tightened at the recollection of how he got to his present abode. What happened before he was hit on the head with the butt of a gun, slapped him in the face. He remembered his mother shouting that he should hide but the hunger that troubled his stomach did not agree with his legs. He remembered running with his friend who was faster than him. As Master’s words faded, Small Boy eyes looked around for a familiar face but instead a throng of alien faces met his gaze.

Run! Small Boy run!! His mother’s voice echoed in his head…



To be continued

Muhsinat Kamardeen



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I had heard of men who handpick girls like you would fresh vegetables or fruits at a market stall. I often laugh at this talk till the day I was picked.

I’m supposed to see Bala this afternoon. He is the one I plan to spend the rest of my life with. He is everything to me. I remember the first time we spoke, I was very shy but he made me feel very comfortable till my shyness evaporated. We often meet secretly, when our parents are not watching. Lovers tryst I call it.

I busy myself throwing stones at nothing in particular whilst patiently waiting for a signal at the front of our house from Bala when two men walk towards me. One is tall and the other, quite short and plump, reminding me of the black pig that roams our street. Both are garbed in black. They ask for Pa. They look impatient and I wonder if something bad has happened. Did someone die? That probably explains the black attire I thought but wave it off.

I tell them Pa is inside.

‘Call him. We have a message for him from Alhaji Sanni’ the short one grunts as I make my way into the house.

Pa is saying his prayers. I shift from foot to foot, thinking of Bala as I wait for Pa to finish. Ma is also in the room, her face dressed in a frown, trying to feed little Audu, who constantly twists his mouth away from the direction of the spoon. It is obvious he is not interested in the food but Ma is hell bent on getting every last bit into him. A smile snakes its way to my lips as I watch them. I picture myself feeding a baby –a willing one—unlike my reluctant brother whilst my sweet Bala says his prayers and—

My father clears his throat, disrupting my daydream, signifying with the hand in which he held his brown rosary that I can speak.

‘Pa, there are two men outside waiting for you.’

‘From where?’

‘Alhaji Sanni.’

I do not understand if it was the name or Ma finally decided it was time to give up on Audu. From the corner of my eye, I see her put the bowl of half eaten pap on the table beside her then let Audu slide to the ground from her legs. He gladly crawls away. Pa also looks like he’d seen a ghost.

‘Alhaji’ he mutters.

‘Yes, Pa. Alhaji.’ I say impatiently then turn to Ma.

‘I’m going to see—’

‘Bintu, sit down’ She says quietly patting the chair in between us.

‘But Ma, I told—’

‘Bintu I said, sit down! Your father has something to tell you’


Ma looks at Pa, trying hard to hide the worry in her eyes as she moves closer to me.

‘Pa tell her.’

I find it odd when my mother calls my father Pa as if she is one of his children. I decide to ask her why later.

‘Tell me what?’

‘You are going with them’ He says without looking at us.

Pa’s words scatter on the ground between us as he stares hard at the door as if talking to it. I frown, look at him then back at Ma who is standing beside the chair she asked me to sit in.

‘Going with who?’ I ask.

‘Those men are here for you’ Ma says in a way too calm for my liking as her hand plays with my hair.

A truckload of thoughts, fruits and vegetables drive through my mind. I spring up from the worn out chair as if pricked by a thorn.

‘Ma, what are you talking about?’

Little Salma walks in towards me cutting through the tension, ignoring the adults in the room. I look at her with questioning impatient eyes Not now Salma, not now.


I didn’t know what to say to her.

‘Bintu is leaving.’

As the words roll off my tongue leaving a bitter taste, I question its reality. Salma stares at me. She does not understand.

‘Food’ She repeats, then puts her right thumb in her mouth.

Ma takes her out of the room but not without stopping to take a look at me again. I see tears form in her eyes. Little Salma tugs Ma’s dress to remind her they were leaving for a reason.

I am leaving for the rest of my life. I want to scream and claw out Pa’s eyes.

‘Papa why?’

‘Bintu, I borrowed money. Walahi[i] I’d bring it at the end of the month so you can come back home.’

‘I thought you loved me Pa. You said you’d make sure I become better. Is this how you plan my betterment? By using me as a surety?’

‘Alhaji Sanni will take care of you’ He says putting his hand on my shoulder trying to reassure me.

I eye him with disgust and shake his hand off my shoulder. We both know he would not be coming for me at month’s end. Even if he comes it’d be to Oliver Twist his way into getting more money.

‘Take care of me? You stand there telling me about care when you know fully well what will happen the minute I leave here. You know my innocence will be stolen. Pa, you said you wouldn’t let this happen yet you sold me.’

‘Bintu, I—’

‘I’ll never forgive you for this Pa.’

I think of Bala and our plans. Tears roll down my cheeks. I feel numb as I walk slowly to the front of our house, Pa behind me.

The men stand up when they see me.

‘What took you so long? Where is your father? We don’t have all day.’

As the short one spoke, you can smell the arrogance oozing from him.

‘You know why we are here. It’s the money or one of your daughters like you promised eh.’

Pa takes me by the shoulders and pushes me slightly towards the men.

‘This is Bintu. Tell Alhaji I’ll bring his money at month’s end so I can take her back.’

‘Take her back?’ the short one sniggers.

‘You know Alhaji won’t let this one go. You are lucky she is beautiful. She’ll be a wife, not a maid.’

‘Do you have any belongings?’

‘Yes, I want to take a few things.’

‘Hurry. We are waiting’

I walk straight to the backyard where Ma is, with little Salma and Audu. She rushes towards me to hug me tight.

‘Pa sold me Ma. Pa sold me. He said he loved me but he sold me.’

‘I’m so sorry Bintu.’

‘Do you sell something so precious for money that disappears in seconds? Ma answer me, do you?’

I release myself from her embrace; wipe away tears with the back of my hand.

‘No. I’m sorry Bintu. I really am’

I glance at little Salma and Audu. The thought of not being able to see them again for a long time make my heart ache. I wasn’t even able to say bye to Bala.

I face Ma, her lovely face with tired eyes, looking older than she really was.

‘Ma I’ll be alone. I don’t want to go’ I hold her dress like Little Salma did earlier. Tears flow freely again but I did not wipe them off this time.

‘I feel useless Bintu. I feel sad and torn because my sixteen year old daughter has to go through this madness and I have no power to stop it. God is with you and will never leave you’

‘Where was God when Pa needed money? Where was God when Pa made this deal? Ma I know this is not your fault but don’t tell me about God!’

Ma bites her lower lip, fighting back tears that refuse to be caged. I hug Ma one last time then walk towards my soon to be old room that I share with Ma and Salma. I look around the small room for few minutes then grab a little bottle and bracelet Bala made me.

Ma walks me to the front of the house and I whisper I’ll be back in her ears. She stares at me, confused. I feel her continuous stare as I walk towards Mr. Tall and Mr. Short. I did not bid my seller farewell. He does not deserve it. The men lead me to a blue car with tinted glasses. I sit at the back, clutching the little bottle and staring at my bracelet. As the car moves off, I see Ma still watching. Her hand moves to wave but instead, she places it at the back of her neck then leans against the wall at the entrance of our house.

I read what is written on the bottle Original Instant Rat Poison. Instruction: Put a few drops on the item needed to lure rodent. Tears well up in my eyes again. I refuse to be a refund. I down the contents of the bottle.

‘I’m sorry Ma’ I whisper.

I close my eyes and count as the car move, like an old man with a walking stick because of the bad road.

[i] I swear by Allah

New Wife Series: Our Husband


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Click here for 👉Papa Married A New Wife (The Poem for the drama)

(A loud craaaackkk! sound is heard from the kitchen, Number 2 rushes from the sitting room to the kitchen)


Number 2 (hands on waist, facing the bent figure of Number 5 who is clearing broken pieces of the plate): So it’s you who have decided to break all the plates in the house?


Number 5: Haba it’s just— (stops mid-sentence as Number 2 raises her right hand)


Number 2: Will you keep quiet? Who gave you the audacity to talk back to me? (Number 3 walks in)


Number 3: What’s going on? (Looks at Number 5 with disgust)


Number 2 (claps hands & laughs mockingly): This thing thinks because our husband can afford plates she can break all the ones in the kitchen.


Number 3 (long hiss): Apa![i] Can you blame her? (Stretches to take something from the kitchen cabinet) They don’t have plates like these ones where she comes from.


(Number 5 clicks her tongue & carries on with cleaning the plates she had just washed)


Number 2: Disrespectful rat! It’s your mother at home you’re clicking your snake tongue at, not me.


Number 3 (Long hiss): Alaileko![ii]


Number 5 (abandons the plates then faces Number 3): Whom are you calling uncultured?


Number 3 (moves closer to Number 5 then pokes her chest with the plastic cup she took from the kitchen cabinet earlier): You! I’m calling you uncultured because it is what you are. You have no respect for those before you. You click your—


(Number 2 smiles as she watches the exchange between Number 3 and Number 5. Number 4 enters nods a greeting at Number 2, grabs a nearby stool to sit and watch)


Number 5: Those who deserve it not those who act like wild dogs earn respect! (She slaps off Number 3’s hand from her chest making the cup drop)


Number 2 and 4 (gasps at the same time): Mo gbe![iii]


(Number 3 makes her way to the kitchen door then locks it)


Number 2: This girl doesn’t know anything. (Pulls up Number 4 who reluctantly stands) We’ll teach you a lesson today!


Number 4 (mutters): I’d rather watch. (Number 2 glares at her) What? Why are you looking at me like that? Face the person who insulted you.


Number 3: Is it me you’re calling a wild dog? (Standing close to Number 5 who looks unbothered)


Number 5: Yes you! What will you do about it?


Number 3 (turns to Number 2 and Number 4 with a wide smile on her face): She’s asking what I’ll do about it. (Turns round to face Number 5 again) I will teach you what your mother didn’t teach you.

(Number 3 pulls Number 5’s blouse, then gives her a sounding slap)


Number 5 (holds her throbbing cheek then quickly grabs a stirring stick from the sink behind her): You’re just a frustrated mad woman! (She yells)


Number 3 (to number 4 and 2 without facing them): She says I am frustrated. She still has the mouth to talk and thinks that the stick she’s holding will stop me from touching her. (To Number 5) You are the mad and frustrated one. If you weren’t mad or frustrated because no man your age will marry you, tell me what you’re doing with a man old enough to be your grandfather?


Number 5: It’s none of your business you shameless old—


(Number 3 and 2 pounce on her before she could finish her sentence. Number 2 pulls her left leg making Number 5 land on her behind screaming, struggling and cursing. Number 3 collects the stirring stick from her and hits Number 5 with it severally before throwing it towards the door.)


Number 4 (half-heartedly as she opens a packet of biscuits): Stop fighting.


(Someone bangs on the kitchen door from outside while Number 3 and 2 deal with Number 5)


The voice: I said, open this door! Are you people crazy? Open the door!


Number 4 (grumbles as she makes her way to the door): They won’t let someone eat and watch this live drama in peace.


(Number 1 bursts in as Number 4 opens the door)


Number 1 (pulls Number 3 and 2 from a struggling Number 5): What sort of nonsense is this? What is wrong with you people?


Number 4: I told them to stop fighting but they didn’t listen to me (They all glare at her) What? Why are you looking at me like that? (Grumbles then exits the kitchen)


Number 1 (to Number 3, 2 and 5): Why have you decided to turn the kitchen into a mad house?


(Number 2, 3 and 5 talk at once)


Number 1 (irritated look): Will you shut your mouths?


Number 2 & 3 (together): But she broke—


Number 1: What if she broke plates? Are they yours? Did you bring them along when our husband brought you to this house?


Number 5 (mutters): Please ask them?


Number 1: What did you say?


Number 5: Nothing


Number 1(stares at 5 as she speaks): I am not in support of our husband’s lifestyle but do you see me acting like a mad woman? (To Number 2) You should put them to order not join in.


Number 2: Iyale mi[iv] I am not Jesus.


Number 1 (long hiss): You want to kill yourselves over a man who will marry another in seconds. I do not pity you. (Mutters as she exits the kitchen) He never picks the good ones. All he does is bring shafts and noisemakers for me to deal with. I wonder where he gets them!




[i] Vandal

[ii] Uncultured/ Can also mean disrespectful

[iii] I’m in trouble

[iv] Mother of the house

Black. Beauty.


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Image: Google


Her Black

Shiny like

polished ebony

Dark as

Shades of night





Long legs like a deer

The way she walks,

Graceful strides

Like a fawn

I revel at this wonder of God


In a different world

She would have been

A model

A celeb

She’d shine like the star

That she is


Alas, she is just a normal lass

Washing dishes


Living life

The way she knows how


No shining lights



No paparazzi

Nor strobe lights

She’s just Bella

Bella by the roadside

Black gold Bella


Muhsinat Kamardeen

Book Review: How To Cook Your Husband The African Way by Calixthe Beyala


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“I’m asking you to control his desires, to be the zapper of his zipper, the oil in his motor, the cable of his printer, the laces of his shoes.”


From Porcupine with the nuts of wild mangoes to Boa in banana leaves, a devoted Aissatou is hell bent on cooking her way to the heart of the man—Bolobolo— she loves. Mr Bolobolo is a man from Mali who lives with his mother whom ‘is losing her marbles’ and her beloved pet chicken. She starts cooking and sending the meals to Bolobolo. At first, he hesitates, but later finds himself deep in the plate of whatever meal Aissatou has cooked. Bolobolo succumbs to the powerful force of good food and enters relationship with her. However, in this case, the age-long saying that the way to a man’s heart is his stomach loses credibility. Although it does a part of the job and wonderful things to a man’s palate and stomach, the heroine comes to the realization that food isn’t enough to keep a man.

This is an ultra-modern rom-com (a fusion of romance and comedy) story set in Paris. Beyala’s writing style in showing us the different dimensions of the human mind is noteworthy. She makes use of the first person point of view, thereby making the story very relatable and personal. You feel the heat Aissatou is feeling, preparing her meals and how eager she is in getting Mr Bolobolo. In addition, using satire the author dabs into other issues such as racism, identity and sexism amongst others.

This book will make you hungry. Beyala accompanies every chapter with mouth-watering recipes. The use of vivid graphic imagery by the author is excellent and this way the reader does not feel alienated.

“Food is the stuff of life, the same as life. Today it makes for more unity than justice. It’s maybe the only thing that will bring peace and reconciliation to humankind.”

So, can one really cook one’s husband the African way or any other way? Is it feasible? The answer to those questions is what Beyala has tried to trash out in her book.

The book is significant in many ways. First, it brings out the magical power of food. The author has successfully lectured us on how food can soften a man’s heart. From start to finish, we witness Aissatou winning all her battles with different kinds of meals.

“Because to be white you’ve got to be thin… A beautiful woman is flat as a pancake, thin as a rake or a slice of Melba toast. Melba toast snaps easily. Circle crackle. I measure my life by my waist” Continue reading

Sunday Thoughts:Be Careful What You Pray For…


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I shake my head when I hear things like I pray God gives me a man/woman like my father/mother or God let me be like so and so. The inability to see beyond the surface of things we ask for can sometimes have damaging consequences. We fail to acknowledge the fact that people/things are not always who/what they seem to be. I read a story on Instagram the other day. This lady had been praying for a man like her father, only to find out that Mr Daddy is not the sort of man she should’ve been asking God for.

Personally, I believe people need to learn to ask differently from God and stop using other people’s lives or lifestyle as a yardstick when requesting from God or wishing for a better situation. The example you keep using as a prayer point might be the beginning of your downfall.

Although I believe in destiny, there are times when we unknowingly draw misfortune towards ourselves. Some of us make the mistake of saying I tap into so and so blessing, without an inkling of whether you are tapping into rubbish or not. I believe, we all have different paths and different capabilities when it comes to bearing burdens. When you ask God to bless you like so and so you have no idea of their respective battles or whether you’d be able to walk two steps in their shoes or have the back to bear their unseen burdens.

When your answered prayers start giving you problems or comes with an unbearable burden, you forget it was what you constantly asked for that was given to you. Pray intensely for yourself without having to include God bless me like so and so. Learn to break down your prayers, what you want and how you want it. For example, if you’re praying for success, say something like Oh Lord guide my steps, lead me towards things that’d be beneficial for me and result in my breakthrough. Bless my hands and entire being. Let your grace find me as I strive hard. Bless my path and don’t let my helpers pass me by.

God is not tired of listening to you. Stop the shortcut prayers!

Just stop!



With Love From Ola 💋 xoxo