Gendarm Darmes Me
by Andrew Benson Greene
I wrote this poem in 1998, whilst seeking refuge in neighboring country of Guinea in west Africa. like thousands of sierra Leoneans forced to flee, experiences in guinea was unbearable, and as a refugee one is subjected to a lot of hardship and you are not under the full cover of the law. Freedom to move was restricted to certain places. Often, one is faced by militia personnel known as ‘Gendarme’s who treat you with harassment, molestation and degradation. The major source of news feeds and media outlet was through the BBC World Service especially the African Service Slot that ‘bruited’ news from home in Sierra Leone. These times of news were heart-throbbing moments for many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad who are really edgy and jittery about what might befall ‘their folks back home’. Good news from the BBC however could make those seeking refuge in Guinea feel a sense of momentary relief, which makes them ‘drenched their lips with gulps of beer’. But does this sign show concern or care for those left behind? ‘Is this the special way to say one cares’.
Seeking Refuge (Refugee experience in Conakry Guinea, West Africa)
Gendarme Damnes Me
Will be marred at ‘Madina’,
Barred at ‘Bambayto’
And the gendarme damned me as a refugee.
Off to ‘Belleview’, I will go
At a transplanted ‘Heart Of Gold’,
Only to gaze at the vista of ‘Hamdalaye’, or chatter and air my views
Or glued to my radio,
Listening to news
Bruited by the BBC.
In the heat of the of fire of guns, I wish my folks trapped back home be safely gone.
A sickly bravo
For their making bold
At the twinning rebel-junta’s toll.
A good news,
Not our personal views,
Drenches our lips
With gulps of beer
Down the outlet of ‘Bouloubine’.
Is this the special way to say one cares?
And I saw my movement, is marred at ‘Madina’,
Barred at ‘Bambayto’
And the Gendarme damns me
As a refugee.
Or My passport
Will be harmed,
Outside the airport,
Or as I traverse the city centre at Anvil,
Confiscated for ‘deux mille francs’
To fill the Gendarmes gut With Bacon and ham
Or else I rut Behind a prison’s bar.
Andrew Benson Greene 1998.
Founder and CEO
B-Gifted Foundation in Sierra Leone
McGill University Sauve Scholar 2004/5
Benson- Greene International Foundation Towards Enhancing Development
‘gift for the gifted, making life uplifted.’