Literary Zone

Poetry: We Have Come Home

7 August 2019 at 22:29 | 13368 views

We Have Come Home

By Lenrie Peters, Banjul, The Gambia.*

We have come home
From the bloodless wars
With sunken hearts
Our booths full of pride-
From the true massacre of the soul
When we have asked
‘What does it cost
To be loved and left alone’

We have come home
Bringing the pledge
Which is written in rainbow colours
Across the sky-for burial
But is not the time
To lay wreaths
For yesterday’s crimes,
Night threatens
Time dissolves
And there is no acquaintance
With tomorrow

The gurgling drums
Echo the stars
The forest howls
And between the trees
The dark sun appears.

We have come home
When the dawn falters
Singing songs of other lands
The death march
Violating our ears
Knowing all our loves and tears
Determined by the spinning coin

We have come home
To the green foothills
To drink from the cup
Of warm and mellow birdsong
‘To the hot beaches
Where the boats go out to sea
Threshing the ocean’s harvest
And the hovering, plunging
Gliding gulls shower kisses on the waves

We have come home
Where through the lightening flash
And the thundering rain
The famine the drought,
The sudden spirit
Lingers on the road
Supporting the tortured remnants
of the flesh
That spirit which asks no favour
of the world
But to have dignity.

*Lenrie Peters (photo) was born in Bathurst (now known as Banjul) on September 1, 1932. He was a Gambian surgeon, novelist, and poet. His father Lenrie Sr. was a Sierra Leone Creole of West Indian or black American origin and his mother Kezia Rosemary was a Gambian Creole of Sierra Leonean Creole origin. Lenrie Jr. grew up in Bathurst and moved to Sierra Leone in 1949, where he was educated at the Prince of Wales School, Freetown, gaining his Higher School Certificate in science subjects. In 1952 he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge to read Natural Sciences, graduating with a B.Sc. in 1956; from 1956 to 1959 he worked and studied at the University College Hospital, London, and 1959 was awarded a Medical and Surgery diploma from Cambridge. Peters worked for the BBC from 1955 to 1968, on their Africa programmes.

While at Cambridge he was elected president of the African Students’ Union, and interested himself in Pan-Africanist politics. He also began writing poetry and plays, as well as starting work on his only novel, The Second Round (published in 1965). Peters worked in hospitals in Guildford and Northampton before returning to The Gambia, where he has a surgical practice in Banjul. He is a fellow of the West African College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons in England.

Peters was President of the Historic Commission of Monuments of The Gambia, was president of the board of directors of the National Library of The Gambia and Gambia College from 1979 to 1987, and was a member and President of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) from 1985 to 1991.

He died in Dakar in May 28, 2009, aged 76.