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Lilongwe at midnight

– an e-mail to Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa[1] at Wits University , Johannesburg , South Africa
 by Stanley Onjezani Kenani


your theory-laden brain might think we
all dream sweet potatoes and ripe tomatoes
and a free Zimbabwe where billions
have become useless; where trillions
no longer matter; where counting
starts in zillions as valueless as
toilet sheet; where tyranny
has lost its democratic mask

but at The Diplomats[2] downtown Lilongwe
morality is competing in value with the Zim Dollars
down there in the gutter. Noise pollutes the city
deafening our ears with praise-songs of new democrats
night blends with the darkness in the minds of men –
a recipe for doom. This drinking and smoking
this erotic dancing by half-dressed queens
frustrates the efforts of an ambitious nation

under the cover of darkness there is a hit-and-run
a life poisoned by some stubborn virus
at home the spouse dreams a prosperous Darfur
forgotten voices paid attention for once
and a China that doesnʼt arrest poets[3]
her dreams are not suspicious of the darkness
the blanket that covers Lilongwe ʼs evils
at midnight.

[1] Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa is a Malawian poet
[2] The Diplomats is a famous nightclub in Lilongwe
[3] Chinese poet, Shi Tao, was imprisoned for 10 years in 2004 for exercising his freedom on speech