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KQ’s Literature Director, and Nigerian-Canadian poet, Akin Jeje, has featured his work internationally, including Hong Kong where he lives. In addition to the Kinsman Quarterly, Jeje is a regular contributor to Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. His first collection, Smoked Pearl, was published in 2010 and long listed for the 2009 International Proverse Prize. Other works include, “Ping Shan Heritage Trail” in the WHERE ELSE: An International Hong Kong Poetry Anthology (April 2023) and the full poetry manuscript, write about here.


by Akin Jeje

First published by KongPoWriMo


I had a dream,

That I lived in a democracy,

That Dr. King died for,

So we all could be free.

Shots rang hard today,

In Jacksonville,

Before that, Buffalo,

Before, a Kroger's In Tennessee,

Reminding us

This dream’s been lying dead,

Blasted in these streets.

I had a dream,

That I loved the land of liberty,

But while some could sure still

Use our kind, others still hate

You and me.

I had a dream

We were a Team,

But that was for publicity,

When AR-15s

Held by enraged teens

Is their democracy.



by Akin Jeje

First published by KongPoWriMo


What happens to a dream postponed, at the point of cancellation, a fate worse than deportation?

Does it erode,

Like the widening cracks

On the roads?

Does it dry, like smashed blood on the tiles, swarming with flies?

Perhaps it will once again ignite.

Then burn, then roar, then scream in tandem with the sirens,

Across the flaming banliue night.


(inspired by Langston Hughes’s 1964 poem, "Harlem")

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by Akin Jeje

First published by KongPoWriMo


I tell you,

Barbie never moved me,

I wondered what was so fine

About her America Great Again

Bandaid- hued fantasy.

Kool- Aid, Twinkies, Kraft Mayo, Wonderbread, Plasticine.

Yellow is the colour of sunrays,

But also mustard gas, sulfur and smog haze,

Only way her hair could throw off more glare if it was set ablaze.

As for her cerulean gaze,

Blue is not the warmest colour,

Witness to crackling flesh,

Windows to lynch rope horrors.

Her frame, long and legged

Top heavy, distended,

Was never intended, to be the shape of an ideal woman, or so they pretended.

Model pretentions in catwalk directions, dysphoric confusions from anorexic conclusions.

Glossed skin over a shallow core

Material Girl 25 years before,

Madonna gyrating

On a floor,

Ken in tow,

Yet she wants more.


Even by the gifted

Margot Robbie,

Never moved me.

What makes her truly ugly,

Is my girls can't see themselves

In her. Our women, neither.

Barbie's vaunted beauty

With some, was meant to flirt,

Others, definitely meant to hurt.


By Akin Jeje
First published by KongPoWriMo

Originally, "safari" in Swahili,

Was simply a sojourn, a journey,

That could be undertaken by Kikuyu, Kamba, Luo or Masai, virtually anybody.


When the Wazungu, the whites

Arrived, "kusafiri" became a mission, civilised or not, to record wildlife,

observe landscapes, survey virgin territory.


The hunt is on! At least, when Wazungu with High powered bunduki mow down lions, leopards, rhino, elephant, Cape buffalo...

How jolly, to be on safari!


Until there was much less,

Flora or fauna in the territories

That had become British colonies.


Until the hunt turned from those with hooves, paws, snarls and grunts to those with arrows, sharp pangas, spears, clubs blunt and bows who sought to reclaim their sovereignty.


They survived, declared independence, then to highlight their victory, displayed the animals left, still free to journey.


Tourists now watch and click and in a babel of languages offer a flurry (behind closed buses and cars) of pithy commentary, but it's been a trek from a walk on the plains to foreigners “Going on safari ".


by Akin Jeje

If we could’ve improve the past,

Robert Nesta Marley would still be singings songs of freedom,


Zimbabwe would truly be free.


If we had disproved the past,

Gangs and drugs would have zipped by,


All our youth gassed on graduate degrees.


We have not completely failed the aspirations

Of our parents, many now deceased,

With professions, families and properties,

Yet beyond is the Promised Land,

As we wander through Nomadlands,


Decades past our King’s prophetic decree.


We strive to be,

But what are we, but awash

In the acrid bitterness of history?

Our Passover

Is adorned by the bricks and mortar

We built for others. Astringent herbs

We savor, milling miles through deserts

Falling prodigal to golden idols.

Will fatted calves still await

Our arrival?


I plead guilty to charges criminal and uncivil

That I have underserved the people.

My selfishness and short sight

Has wreaked an existential blight.


We were a generation borne into frustration.

Too many expired long before retirement.

Even away from strife of the streets, we were rafters,

Rife with disease, fruits of overwork, leisure without relief,

Lesser idols than Whitney, Prince and Michael

Fervent figures skating over a bottomless grief.

Turned back on the TV,

Innocent lad, black, wrong address,

Blasted twice, bitter relic, white,

In Kansas City, Missouri.


Further north,

Chi-Town last week,

Thousands of the youth dem,

Burned, bashed, twerked, blazed and blazed

Most everything,

In desperate pursuit of release.  


It could’ve been better,

It could’ve always been more,

Than this.

What is it now,

What is it here,


We actually achieved?

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