African poem: ALBINO


A new poem by Ghanaian poet Adjei Agyei-Baah, about the discrimination faced by albinos in Africa and other parts of the world. The poet has also provided us with a version of the poem in the Twi language.

Adjei writes, “I was challenged to compose the poem after watching a documentary on them and learning about the struggles they face in their everyday lives. I hope this piece will add to their voice in their quest to be accepted and offered their rightful place in society.”

Yours is a hard tale to tell
one already known in every household−
chewed like granny stick
tossed from one corner of the mouth
to the other

you hardly see the shadow of your own
a cold fate of indoor life
to avoid the full bite of the sun

which eye passes you by
without taking a second look?
which pew contains you
without keeping others at bay?

a white scar on the face
of a black continent?
the remaining remnant of the rabid raiders?

a tale is told of your crooked destiny–
the sapien who took an early exit
when God’s hands
were still wet with clay

you, the ruiner of marriages –
the child who brought no honor
to the midnight sweat of his father

the stigma of mother’s dishonor –
the midwife’s regret
of not buying a mother’s conspiracy –
a gentle squeeze was all it could take

at your doorstep
I lay my wreath of sympathy –
the child who never smiles at the sun

so close you must stay
around your father’s hut
for in the witchdoctor’s eyes
you are a pot of gold

Here is a Twi translation of the poem.


wo akosɛm ka yɛ kana
nea yɛdi ho nkɔmɔ wɔ afie afie mu
na ɔwe ne sɛ tweapea ɛda abrewa anum
na ɔdi no atotoatoto wɔ n’ano kaam

wo a wo ani ntwa wo sunsum soɔ
hyɛbrɛ a ɛde faakotena na ɛnam
senea ɛbɛyɛ a owia renhye wo

ani bɛn na ɛtwa wo so a
ɛnhwɛ wo ahwɛ prɛnu?
asɔre akunwa bɛn na wotena so a
afoforɔ ntwe wɔn ho?

kotwa fufuo a
ɛda abibiman moma so?
nkaedum bi a ɔbofoɔ bi gyaa no akyire?

ɔka awerɛhosɛm bi fa wo ti bonee ho
onipa a wodwane firi Onyame anim
berɛ a na ɔde dɔteɛ rema wo honam

wo a wogu awareɛ
abofra a woammfa animuonyamhyɛ
amma n’agya wɔ n’anadwo mpaso agodie mu

ɛna aniwuo ba
nea ɔgyee wo awoɔ nuu ne ho sɛ
wɔantie wo na suu antwa wo nkwa tia
nea na ɛsɛsɛ ɔyɛ ne sɛ wobetua wo home kwan

na wo pono ano
na mede mawerɛkyekyerɛ nhweren regu
abɔfra a wonsere nkyerɛ owia

na wo agya sese ho
na wɔ ɛsɛsɛ wotwe bata bre biara
ɛfirisɛ, wɔ dusinii anisoɔ no
wo yɛ sikakɔkɔɔ puduo.

by Adjei Agyei-Baah

Adjei Agyei-Baah (born Eric Adjei Baah, June 29, 1977, Kumasi, Ashanti Region, Ghana), lecturer, translator, editor, and haiku poet. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature in English Education at the Division of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Adjei is a widely anthologized poet and his works have appeared in many journals/magazines across the world. His debut haiku collection, Afriku (2016), was commended by Nigerian Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka. His fourth book, Piece of My Fart (2018) is the first senryu collection from Africa. Agyei-Baah is the primary author of the four Haikupedia articles about African haiku; he lives in Kumasi, Ghana.

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