Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Vol.2 No.4, July 2009. ISSN 1753-6499 (Online).

The Magazine of World Literature

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Kangsen Feka Wakai was born in Bamenda, Cameroon four years before the current president, Paul Biya, came to power.  He lives in the Boston area.

Photo by A.J. Knight

Kangsen Feka Wakai

Adolescence: Chap 2, Verse 1

Virginity lost on the grassy runway
Of an abandoned army airstrip
Manhood initiation rites
In dingy off-licenses
And overcrowded clubs
We swam in a lake of lager
In search of intimate encounters
With nameless strangers
Adolescent desires collide
On the unlit back roads of unknown quarters
So, we beat-boxed our way
Through the decade
Assuming that there’ll always be too much to live for,
Soukous to dance to,
Achu to eat and afofo to drink
Then one day, with no prior warning,
We realized it wasn’t really
An American Idea To Discourage Sex
We have shared cabs and played ball
With the withering carcasses of walking skeletons
Some of us survived the monsoons of youth
While others sought solace from the profane sound bytes
And mild seduction of newly acquired television screens.

Achu: mound of cocoyam dumpling eaten with yellowish soup in the grass fields region of Cameroon.
Afofo: local gin.
Soukous: late nineteen-nineties nomenclature for Congolese popular music.


Death gave him wings
To soar above the cynical smiles of ingratitude
Let your eternal presence once again reinitiate
These arthritic craftsmen who run calloused palms
Atop the dusty furnaces of abandoned foundries
Today, in Esseka, the children of the children of yesterday
No longer seek shelter from napalm bombs
Under the fragility of wilting palm fronts
Tomorrow, in Esseka, the children of the children of today
Shall walk home at dusk under the shadow of his bronze bust.

Reuben/Reuben Um Nyombe: Leader of the Union des Populations Camerouniais [UPC] that sparked independence movement in French speaking Cameroon.
Esseka: Birthplace of Reuben Um Nyobe in Littoral Province of Cameroon.

Jagajaga Legacy

After Babel’s crash, like fumes,
We rose from its smoldering ashes
To fulfill ancient prophecies uttered from
The quivering lips of dying prophets
Then, we swallowed
The impeding darkness;
Drank from a fountain of deception
And sucked the sour juices of unripe fruits
Yes, we masticated to bits,
The paltry crumbs of cynicism,
Leftovers, from a calabash of self-doubt
So, drink the stringy dregs
In the bottom of this rusted chalice.
For tomorrow is another fable with reluctant heroes.

Jagajaga: Ugly


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