#books, #Conundrum, #earth, #KamandaKoroma, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, Uncategorized

Nostalgia


These days,

I am increasingly fueled by a raging desire to overprice depressed thoughts.

Or get lost in the flow of books in the jungle of Amazon.

Nothing seems real,

E-books? They leave me thirsty

I miss the smell of pages,

with their wrinkled edges,

and the torn covers that tells me it’s earlier readers validate its dopeness.

I miss it all.

 

#Conundrum

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#Conundrum, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #the human-condition, Blogging

WordSmiths


York, Sierra Leone. Photography by Nadia Assad

I’m a thief just a peg lower than Robin,
donning a hood Issa Kabbah never unveiled.

Poaching feelings across minds and giving them wings.

Letting them fly to the welcoming hands of estranged lovers
to use as weapons,
in status’ shade wars.

Subliminal yet direct.

Quotes coated in Quixote bravery

Memes Galore.

But then what are we if not mercenaries?

A La God, Allah Messengers to the masses.

What of those in homes whose only solace reside in our words,
and in these moments feel connected to a larger hive that understands the deep pits of depression that internet clout chasers skim over.

We give you passion.

We dish you joy.

And mash your wins to look back on the L’s you took that left you shook.

Of beautiful sunsets and wild romance.

Discreet flings and getting turned down in love at your first advance

In denial of the face of pain and shedding Nile long tears,
and losing loved ones in this mortal world.
We stand by you with all the memories.

For we are dealers.

We peddle and walk the corners of your lives.

We deal in feelings.

The real trap lords, WordBangers.

So when next you see me and remark.

‘You don’t look like a poet’

I’ll smile and reply,

‘What do human feelings look like’?

#Conundrum

#Conundrum, #KamandaKoroma, #landmark, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #the human-condition, #thoughts, Blogging

Blogging from Sierra Leone: The ‘Why’.


There are millions of narratives online about people and their stories, mostly as strangers without meeting each other we connect with these experiences as we find ourselves relating to them. The intricate nature of human existence is the simple truth that in our differences we notice familiar things that brings us to the earthy truth that we are but just a singular race.

Every human has a story to tell and it’s no wonder in this day and age why blogging holds such a strong allure. Strangely the idea to create a blog to post my poems, articles and ramblings came not from me , but from my cousin, Ibrahim Jalloh (R I P).I had shared a piece via WhatsApp to him and after reading, he remarked that it would be a great idea to have a platform to air out my writings.

In his words he said, ”Kamanda, you have to save your writings and keep them so that they can be a moment in time when you had these thoughts. After all, even if no one reads them, they will always live”. These words rang true, Ibrahim always did have a penchant to say the rights things in a modest way.

Naturally I had some misgivings about the whole idea out of fear of internet trolls and another from the insecure idea that I thought my writings weren’t good enough. I slept on his advice. Several days later I set up a WordPress account and the rest as they say is history.

Blogging from Sierra Leone is not an easy feat. For starters, the internet penetration in the country is relatively low, and the data charges are somehow steep. Less than 10% of Sierra Leone’s approximately 7 million citizens utilize any social media tool and of that number the vast majority use Facebook and the cross platform app WhatsApp the most.

The reality is if you intend to tell the Sierra Leonean story via blogging, you come to terms with the stark truth that your countrymen will most likely not be a huge chunk of your audience. This realization alone is enough to deter many, I have known many fellow writers who started off writing on WordPress or Blogspot only to abandon it due to lack of instantaneous followers. Some chose to stick to Facebook blogging with the same recycled audience and recycled feedback.

I was tempted to take the easy route, but I did not. It dawned on me slowly that it would be better to grow an organic following from complete strangers and also from people I knew who would click my WordPress blog link to let my writing speak for itself. I held the firm belief that if I had to evolve from the cocoon of familiarity of the usual audience feedback that my Facebook posts garnered, I would be stuck in an endless loop, and what I craved was growth along with a bigger platform to tell my stories.

It has been almost two years now and I am approaching 500 followers. Through it all I have learnt some vital lessons. Blogging like any art form requires dedication. You have to put in the work to connect with your audience. The sooner you realise that the quality of your content will boost or reduce the feedback you get, the wiser you will become.

There is nothing I appreciate more than the feedback from readers and fellow bloggers, every comment or a like indicates that someone, somewhere took their time to read what I had to offer and leave a response. On some days as a dabbling writer that is the only thing we require, it’s less about a thirst for the spotlight and more about appreciation that comes with understanding. Blogging brings you closer with the art of others that gives you the necessary push that also stimulates the growth of your own art.

I can say without an iota of doubt that my writing has improved because I have encountered sound writers on this WordPress platform who have directly or indirectly influenced me with their brilliance and simplicity in tackling complex issues.

Blogging instills in you the confidence to air out what you have been stifling. The relief that such an outlet offers is priceless. To tackle the social ills of a nation on a broad expanse of issues and proffer solutions. Every complimentary feedback I receive motivates me to do more and tell our stories.

To every other Sierra Leonean blogger out there, keep doing you. Tell your story.

I will keep on blogging and sharing my experiences, as a voice from the western side of my continent, and let our stories be part of the album of the playlist of the myriad online stories written by people from around the globe.

In the words of Marco Koroma,

“Impact is greater than clout”.

#Conundrum

#Conundrum, #KamandaKoroma, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #thoughts, Depression

Mind Trip.


A paper plane for your crashed thoughts?

Pennies are too heavy

Would your heart lift and take wings if I put a price on it.

Unload this burden on me, like a feathered quill in the hands of a composer crafting his last symphony.

Lonely balconies hold secrets of days when the mind leaped over the rails a thousand times.

Mournful gaze sailing to the moody sunset.

The chaos of peace
And calm in turmoil.

I’ll extend a hand to you

as a testament to show I’m always here for you.

I promise not to say the right things,

I’ll just hug you tightly with the embrace of my beating heart

and these words from my pen and let you know that you’re not alone.

#Conundrum

#KamandaKoroma, #love, #lust, #nature, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #the human-condition

Shades of Love


Photography by Kamanda Koroma, “Leicester Peak“.

Listen; even if rainbows were to forget to postlude storms; or sunsets the profane cains

of days; or dew to wash away

the sins of flowers when dawn

breathes upon us; or the dead

to ascend into the promised Heavens

I will never forget to bathe you

With these three words; banal they may seem, but they are yours from the deepest parts of me; the shadowed, the unseen, the scared, the fragile, the flawed;

I love you…

The type of love that’s reclusive
but appreciates the outdoor freedom of open affections

Chit chat and toothy smiles, small talk and long walks in shady alleys and bright lanes

Why tilt the scale when it balances the unresolved emotions and unspoken words like afro combo at mardi gras?

Take my hand and let’s fly across the memoirs of lovebirds in bourbon street;

sip on the intoxication of these three words..

“I love you”

…and I’ll tell you I love you till the words die on my lips

Till they cave inside of my chest and crumble like sandcastles inside of my belly

Till they fade from my breath, and my throat is hoarse from their use

Till my voice breaks at the thought and my tongue can no longer form the words.

Till they wane from memory and dissolve into stardust.

But until then. Until then;

I love you.

#VF

#Conundrum

#TMA

#Conundrum, #Drug Abuse, #earth, #KamandaKoroma, #love, #lust, #nature, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #the human-condition, #thoughts, Uncategorized

The Opioid Trail: Tramadol Abuse in Sierra Leone


It was a bright day with blue skies, sunny with just the right amount of soft winds. One of the rare blessings of residing in the coastal city of Freetown in the dry season is the beautiful weather at that time of the year. I was riding shotgun, a friend at the wheel, a Drake song blaring on the stereo.

Destination: Tokeh Beach.

Stuck for over half an hour in the notorious traffic jam between Wilkinson Road and Lumley, frustrated about the delay, we were accosted by one of the street hawkers peddling his goods. He approached the car window on my side , peered in then tapped me by my arm , then laughed and shouted our nicknames. It may have been that there was no sign of recognition on our faces. I did a double take when I recognized that resounding laughter, then slowly as I stared at him, it was as if the years fell away from his facial features layer by layer.

This was an old friend from high school. It had been years since we last saw him.

We located a suitable parking space, pulled over and kick start conversation. We reminisced about school days and the funny shenanigans we masterminded. All the while we laughed, I noticed the premature wrinkles and hardened features on his once gentle face. It was obvious the years hadn’t been kind to him. He explained to us that a string of family issues and financial problems had led him down the path to the depths of drug abuse.

Tramadol he said was the only reprieve he had from an otherwise cold world that had turned it’s back on him. We offered advice and assistance to him but he only shook his head and remarked that the pills had no addictive tendencies. After several prodding from us, he became withdrawn and said he had to return to his trading. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch and went our separate ways.

I called his number a few times with no response.

It would be the last time I ever saw him again.

This was two years ago.

Since then, the onslaught of Tramadol has continued unabated amongst the youths of Sierra Leone like a vengeful succubus.

Tramadol is an opioid drug that is prescribed for relief from moderate or moderately severe pain by medical doctors. It was considered as a better alternative to most narcotic analgesic medications.

Somehow, along the lines this drug became the go to drug for quick highs and mood enhancing. The myth that followed in it’s wake was the deceptive talk of it’s non addictive qualities.
In Sierra Leone, the ghettos, slums and even in club scenes, it has assumed many other attributes. Many non-prescribed users boast of it’s nature to boost their sex drive, others claim that it is the cure for their work stress and other problems.

These non facts are spread by quacks, and charlatans who sell these drugs from their stalls, and petty traders who have no medical qualification in that regard. The department of health regulation in the country is ill-equipped to tackle the issue as they are under funded and lack the necessary man power to tackle these illegal and counterfeit vendors.

Children as young as 9 have been known to take Tramadol.

I once encountered a scuffle that had just been separated, it was a teen who purchased the drug with the intention of taking it so as to give him the “bravery and heart” to stab a friend whom he had quarreled with over different views after a football match. If not for timely intervention, it would have been a lethal saga.

Stories like these and more are abound in the neighborhoods of Sierra Leone. Tramadol is especially popular amongst female street walkers and ‘Okada’ bike riders who claim it keeps the wind and cold away from them on cold nights because it numbs their senses.
You are bound to see either of the two popping tramadol like bubblegum or altoids .

In a country that has a considerable number of it’s denizens still clinging onto to superstitious beliefs, combating mental health issues and drug abuse is an up hill task. There’s a high chance of an addict to be taken to a church or voodoo shrine for supernatural delivery and demonic exorcism than to the hospital for medical assistance.

Indeed, there are stories of many individuals who when rehabilitated from abusive lifestyles by either a result of distance from it or when medically treated are bound to believe and accept the brainwashed superstitious narrative of family members that it was divinely manifested rather than their actions.

Surely, faith in a supreme deity goes with a strong understanding of care for ones health as is echoed in most religions.

Addiction to Tramadol causes a dependency which lead many young individuals to resort to theft as a desperate measure to satiate their high. The higher the dosage they take, the greater it elevates their mood which makes them to increase the dosage they consume. It’s not surprising that most tramadol addicts from impoverished backgrounds are identifiable at first glance when they are in withdrawal.

Mostly sweating, nervous, periods of swooning due to nausea, and a tendency to twitch as if restless. Developed stages of tramadol addiction are bound to make addicts, paranoid, delusional and subject to hallucinations.

During the just concluded election, this drug was in vogue as many politicians parceled it out in droves to supporters to use as a means to stimulate violence. It was not uncommon to see youths go berserk and self harm themselves or others before having fits of seizures. Yet no politician has ever been held accountable for the negative acts of derailing the future of scores of young men.

The lack of rehabilitation centres nationwide is another issue. What we have are a few institutions that have more in common with 17th Century asylums and madhouses like Bedlam and rife with questionable techniques of treating patients than they do with the modern methods of diagnosing and treating them.
There are very limited centres that offer adequate inpatient treatment with around the clock supervision that lasts for over a month.
Coupled with the fact that outpatient programs are almost non existent in this side of the world for evening or late therapy sessions after patients have been discharged to their homes.
It’s no small wonder that most addicts deteriorate beyond saving.
The taboo with which mental health is associated with makes it a hassle for the existence of peer group organizations to thrive in.

The health sector is in dire need of boosting and much adequate funding, to not only to treat the patients but also to police and regulate the influx of this drug into the borders of the country.

A nation is only as strong as it’s human resource.

We all must all do more to aid in the sensitization on the dangers of tramadol dependency and drug abuse as a whole.

Save lives. Regain friends.
Restore Families.

#Conundrum