African Genocide This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 20, 2013
Lately my grandmother has been practicing her English with the phrase:
no one should have to die with pain and suffering
the pencil marks bow through the pages so earnestly
she laces her tongue with the bloodline poison of her oppressors
when she speaks she stumbles over the shackles of words that are only meaningful when the butcher understands her
sometimes I believe that she rebels. That the way she stirs verbs, pronouns, and meaning together in a perfectly incorrect stew is her knife in the throat of every imperialist slinging dictionaries like bombs into the music of our ­history.

She tells me of the years after British occupation
a country left in pieces all in the name of peace
she’d tell you you’d never seen anything like it
brothers hacking brothers into splintered marrow
their limbs waving flags for every delta village
seeking retribution in the wake of independence.

She would tell you
civil war follows you everywhere
fancy commercials and T-shirts are not Kevlar vests
a popular song and crying child cannot keep limbs attached to bodies.

Africa is an endless womb
not all of her children can be kept in boxes to be “saved” by UN aid
those bullet-less guns are only matchsticks lighting the Sahara Desert on fire
Nigeria is consuming the barrels of your rifles
Our bellies are engorged with your
politics but how long can we survive
on rusted gunmetal?

My grandmother came to America
seven years ago
all she knows of the American dream
is the Dollar Store has everything you need
trade your ankara for blue jeans so they might stop staring
when they try to cut out your motherland from behind your teeth
just bandage the wounds and keep walking
you must now learn their language
you need scholarships to learn their language.

She can tell you
genocide is now a lucrative weapon
Western society wields it so well
save the children: take their natural resources
Africa is just a village marketplace full of war
criminals and starving babies
making their appearance on television when the death toll reaches 20,000.

Africa is an endless womb
her offspring are currency –
spend enough and suburban mothers will match that in dollar bills, pounds, sterling
perhaps they don’t know they are paying for

In 1998, America held their guns to the backs of Congolese and Rwandan heads
but their shots were only flesh wounds
it is a slow death for the refugee, the dark-skinned immigrant
the country with blood diamonds soaked in oil
where the people are just 70 cents per head
this is true genocide
this is temples burning
my grandmother understands this
yet prays for all our salvation anyway
no one should have to die with pain and suffering.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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