LITERARY JOURNAL REVIEW – PUTTING DOWN ROOTS East African Youth Zine, Issue 1, Spring 2013

Putting Down Roots2

(cover artwork by Kalkidan Assefa)

This is a marvelous anthology put out by the young East African collective of Speak Sudan and is dedicated to inclusivity and anti-oppressive values.   As an older Torontonian, born and bred here during the Great Depression and WWII, I was humbled at reading this exceptional writing and viewing the remarkable artwork.

When I was young, we had no such outlet for our feelings.  Authority figures and our elders were to be revered at all times, and we were discouraged from sharing our deepest thoughts, fears and emotions of any kind.

In my reading, and I read this over and over again, many of the pieces caused me to reflect upon and question my typical reading choices and made me wonder how I could go back, if I would ever be the same.  There is an enviable confidence in these young people, and their frankness awakened an unfamiliar discomfort in me, still I was compelled to read these treasures repeatedly.

My favourite poem, Giving Back by Beylul Yosef, is a moving tribute to her father, inviting him to share his burdens now that she is older.  I find this kind of respect for her parent remarkable.  “You went from an everything knowing man, to an intelligent man, from a solid rock, to a sensitive and soft man…. My eyes are grown now daddy, I see your pain, I see your struggle.” I wish with all my heart that I had been able to speak to my own father with anything even remotely like this kind of intimacy!

Riya Jama’s poem, He Said He Loved Me and I Believed Him is a  call to us to love ourselves first, and to demand the respect we deserve.  Riva starts out with “He said he loved me, I believed him.   You see the colour of his love was blue and black. His love for them so intense, my mocha complexion was adorned with his favourite colours.”  But later, “His finger-prints decorating the flesh of my neck, he told me he loved me.  I didn’t believe him.”  If Riya can convince one person to leave an abusive relationship, she can be very proud.

The image, Sudanese Man, by Marwan Hussein is full of emotion, and the cover art by Kalkidan Assefa speaks to the importance of staying close to one’s roots, being proud of who we are, where we came from and where we are headed,  while at the same time adapting to new and exciting opportunities.

Putting Down Roots gives me a sense of hope for the future.  Members of this collective and the contributors to this anthology will make visionary and thoughtful leaders.  We are in good hands.

Dorothy Watson


Published by Speak Sudan



Copyright © 2018 TWAS – Toronto World Arts Scene. Icons by Wefunction. Designed by Woo Themes