The Mamba arrives

Had a nice surprise yesterday morning when the latest issue (number 2) of The Mamba arrived in my inbox. I’d submitted to the pdf journal put out by the Africa Haiku Network from Ghana, had my submission acknowledged and never heard any more – and found three of my haiku had been included. Yay!

To go on the mailing list to see future issues, email the editors (Adjei Agyei-Baah and Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian). They kindly allow submissions from poets living outside Africa, but do ask that haiku reflect an African experience in some way. Find submission details here.

“We must quickly add that the first issue indeed had not only been an inspiration to haijins at home alone, but abroad as well, compelling writers from USA, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Ireland etc. to share their experiences through haiku in this 2nd issue, when they came to Africa as visitors, tourists, teachers, aid workers and researchers. We need put it on record necessarily that, this has outrightly enriched this particular issue in hearing African experiences told from the other sides of the globe,” the editors say as part of their introduction to this issue.

It was a nice exercise to cast my mind back in an effort to try and write something relevant from visits to Kenya (1982) and Gambia (1985). Haiku Husband also spent 6 weeks working in rural areas in a Nigerian province in 1981 but as yet I haven’t tapped into his stories.

undulating through elephant grass the day’s first water jars

– Sandra Simpson, The Mamba 2

As well as doing a safari tour of Kenya – in the back of an old Bedford truck and led by an Australian – and going up the coast to stay in Malindi and Lamu, we also hired a (small) car and made a day trip to Kericho, the tea-growing area. The haiku above came from that, sometimes hair-raising, experience driving amid massive tankers and trucks. They say that it rains in Kericho every day at 3pm. It did for us, fortunately we were sitting on a verandah having a cup of tea!

It’s always interesting how some memories stay fresh and vivid, no matter how many years have passed, while others fade, crumble and disappear. I think Kenya has stayed with me so strongly because it made such an impact after just over a year of living in London. It wasn’t until I arrived in Kenya that I realised what I had been missing about New Zealand – big skies and long horizons. Somehow, I felt very comfortable there even while my senses were being overwhelmed by everything that was different. It seems Africa does that to people.

jacaranda season —
the young hawker carries
his oversize shoes

– Sandra Simpson, The Mamba 2

Read more about jacarandas here. (In Nairobi we stayed at the Jacaranda Hotel – the street trees were all jacarandas.)

One of the nicest things about The Mamba is meeting poets who are writing interesting and assured haiku. If you’d like to see The Mamba, email me and I’ll forward the pdf on.

weaver birds …
the bombed market
echoes back to life

– Chibuihe-Light Obi, Nigeria

dry land
the dung reaper
picks the span of the barn

– Ayisi Gordon Gullanyi, Ghana


an old novel —
the skeleton of an ant
stuck on a page

– Patrick Wafula Wanyama, Kenya

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