Lament for a teller of Tale Lost in the Season of AIDS

Frank M. Chipasula

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[for Sony Labu Tansi, in memoriam]

You have lost your goatskin bag of stars,
the wild lies that flowed from the roaring Congo,
the lies that quenched our thirst for laughter and tears;
Your sharp tongue lies in a bed of silence now.

He who aids you now never alerted you
to the death that never aids the storyteller
as you walk straight into the darkness
you once set ablaze with your life and half,

but only aids, if he aids at all, in trapping
your skilled tongue between his talons,
and death aids only in robbing us of the thick
sweet porridge of your golden voice that filled

our bellies with stories in the tropical nights.
You have lost the spear with which you penned
the path of light in our dark despotic wilderness.
You have lost the spear that carved day out

of dictatorial nights that shackled us to lies.
Death unshackled your mind, loosened your jaws,
the sun blazed in your palms that caressed our sorrows.
You never lost the perfume of its truth, or

The aroma of the stars that you rolled
across the board of fate where you saw your end
unaided as you aided us to ride another harsh day.

You have lost the evening and the fire,
the dark canvass that lit your words, butó
We have gained the sweet lies that opened our eyes.
We have gained the sweet voice that filled our mouths.

Omaha, March 16, 1998


[First published in Drocella Mwisha Rwanika & Nyunda ya Rubango,eds. Le Destin Unique de Sony Labu Tansi. Ivry-sur-Seine, France: Silex/ Nouvelle du Sud, 2000.]

Postcolonial Web Africa Frank Chipasula

Last modified 14 March 2008