Table of contents
Table of contents
Poem / Reflections

Bila Mwili

A poet-historian in Tanzania remembers those who have passed but who are still nearby.
Taken from under the frond of a leafy overhang, waters near the shore of a beach gently ripple under the bright orange glow of the setting sun.

The sun sets over the Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam.

Alma Simba

“Bila Mwili” is part of the collection Poems of Witness and Possibility: Inside Zones of Conflict. Read the introduction to the collection here.

the grey sediment of you,
floating like a mass, a mess
sinking down to lie
on the ocean’s belly

your body turned to ash
not exactly soil-like
but something closer to
rough gravel or the burnt
embers of charcoal

the flowers i pick
red and white
flame and jasmine
the blueness of the water

the air weighs heavy with sea salt
antiseptic threaded into the clouds above
the muezzin in our rooms just after midday
our name, his name, hers, yours
are somehow in the putrid black water
that runs along the street of the market at night.

the memories that stay reverberate forever
before emptying into the forgetting.
the eternal flashed on the same coin
as the fleeting, an echo shouting
for you, calling you home.
the hallway will always
embrace you.

Alma Simba is a writer, historian, and experimental sound artist interested in both the potentials and failures of words in capturing the human experience. Her subject matter is ancestral heritage and how Indigenous Black Africans can communicate and explore this history through oral traditions, memory, and imagination. Simba was awarded a B.A. in international history from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and she completed her M.A. in history at the University of Dar es Salaam with a focus on Tanzanian heritage housed in Germany. She was a “Sensitive Provenances” Research Fellow at the University of Göttingen in 2022 and is part of the Ajabu Ajabu audio-visual collection in Dar es Salaam.

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