Nkirote Laboni


14 Kilometres from Africa

Old Fisherman Mamadou
was informed that he was an 'illegal'
for living in Nouadhibou
instead of Senegal

He was surprised to learn
from the sneering uniformed men
who guarded the land he had called home
since he was a pimple-faced boy

that his was a ploy
to walk the Sahara
and cross the Strait of Gibraltar
in pursuit of the European El Dorado

They bunched old Mamadou up
like a piece of paper
and threw him in detention.
They brought to his attention

That the law frowned upon
those who mistook Mauritania
for a convenient stop-over
while journeying to the land of milk and honey.

They spit out the word immigrants
wrapped in phlegm
We are nothing but parasitic vagrants
feeding on their taxes, so they condemn

us to their five star prisons.
They build high impenetrable walls
and fortify their army-
ready to confront the Euro-tsunami

They sign agreements with our blood
And tell the African Big Men to prevent the flood
As if man's basic need for food
Can ever be stopped by a piece of paper:

Restrict, return and definitely do not re-admit!
Did those who die at sea, while dreaming
of the promised land do so in vain?
The fire's burning, can you hear them cry in Calais?

Nkirote was born in Kenya, is a citizen of the world and plays many interchangeable roles including human rights activist, apprentice-poet, student and dreamer. She dreams of a world where people don't have to fight for freedom and believes in the power of the pen over the power of the gun.

(author retains copyright)