Samuela's Fufu - Laban Hill

- For Rose Blankson-Austin

Maame Rose knows. She cuts
cassava in block chunks.
Splits plantains, opens
dark veins concealed
beneath pale, sweet meat.

Maame Rose does it this way, stokes a fire
with coal, tosses in skins.
They curl in on themselves like small hands
closing into fists. The iron pot sits there
like a hungry chief, swallowing

cassava and plantains into boil. Listen
to Maame Rose. She will not steer
you wrong. She says pound
that cooked fruit in a dahuoma mortar,
hard as your ancestor's teeth.

Yes, the pestle is heavy, she says. Take this Essan trunk,
thick as your arm, tall as your eyes.
Look at the way it mushrooms out
at its base, soft and pliant
like a good brush, like your tongue.

It must be that way, Maame Rose says, so it works
the fruit as you pound and pound.
You should smile because it is hard.
Everyone tires, she says, but it is the ones
who pound cassava and plantain

until their hearts ache, until they
have forgotten their children's names,
until their ghosts show them
how to hold the stick with two hands.
Do it this way, Maame Rose says,

and you see she is right and pound
that cassava, that plantain until the tough fiber
is broken down, until the whole village
has pushed you up that coconut tree
and you never meet your grandmother' s corpse.


Anonymous said...

Great to see a genuine appreciation of African culture by a Western poet.

Jonas said...

Yeah! It's both a great idea and a challenge to us to be more appreciative of ourselves.

edithfaalong said...

a victory for me and u. a border crossed forever. an end to division of any form. its a beautiful dawn of a new world. and so i smile

edithfaalong said...
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edithfaalong said...
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Anonymous said...

i think this is Very patronising. No wonder the images are very watery and unsubsumed in the milieu of the culture that Lanan sought to express.

Rob Taylor said...

While we encourage constructive criticism and allow anonymous comments on this site, if you are going to be critical of the work someone has had the courage to put out for everyone to view, you should at least have the courage to provide your name.

I am curious as to why you think this poem is patronizing and the images watery?

On the patronizing front, I am simply at a loss - but am interested to hear your perspective in more detail, to be sure.

On the "watery images" front, I think this poem demonstrates a strong attention to detail and the construction of vivid images such as "opens / dark veins concealed / beneath pale, sweet meat" and "it mushrooms out / at its base", so I struggle to see how it is "watery".

How do others feel?

Anonymous said...

cowards are always anonymous

Anonymous said...

I feel that the subject of whiteness is always open for discussion, especially when crossing cultural boundaries. I would love to know more about how anonymous feels. Perhaps this could be an engaging topic for a discussion forum. The more everyone addresses issues of race and appropriation openly and explicitly, the more all of us can avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication. These are knotty issues that should not be overlooked because they are emotionally difficult or hard to pin down.

Anonymous said...

Let's not confused the Anonymous contributors. I was the one who said, 'Great to see a genuine appreciation of African culture by a Western poet.' I don't know about that other guy who said but yes, we still have people who talk just because they have a mouth and an access to internet. Laban is to be admired for having an interest in our culture.