The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Baralong Beboni: 2 Poems Published 


Poems by Barolong Seboni (Botswana)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 46

African Hair


The roots of our history

Are planted in our hair.

The big, bold afros of the 70s;

Strong, powerful, confident,

Greeting the sky like a clenched fist

 Defiant in their stride

Bobbing from side to side.


The kinky close shaves

Of the first African slaves

Sweating their way across

Salty seas in strange ships.

Bald heads bare like broken backs

Split, and sliced by a whip,

Red like a watermelon.


Then came the liberated heads

Of emancipated dreads,

Skanking to the reggae beat

Flashed in black, green and red

Reclaiming souls that were sold.



Through our African hair

Lives our culture and landscape

The geography of our African spaces

The peopling of rural and urban places.


The kinky curls, dry like beans

Are like the open bushes

Sparse and scattered across the desert

To withstand the harshest seasons.

This is the Kgalagadi mop

With very little on top

To stop the sizzling sun.

Our African hair, so brittle

Is like the dry moretlwa sticks

And the hard brown berries, so little.

And up North beyond the Sahara

Their heads are not like our Savanna

The women have flowing strands

Black like the darkest wintery night

Long and sinuous like the Nile

That weaves through many lands;

Tropical forests, rich soils and barren sands.


But now in the new age I fear,

And openly have to declare

That we must really conserve

Our endangered, polluted, African hair:

It’s immersed in oils of all sorts

Steamed, creamed and preened,

Like plastic goods, glossy and sheened.


Our African kinky curls

Have straightened and unfurled

Like ropes and strings

And sometimes look like they will

Take off on their own wings.


We must preserve our heritage (hair-itage)

By conserving and protecting our hair

Because in every black curl

And every black strand

Is rooted our African world;

Our very African brand.









how cruel
these modern times

we make love
in the dark

and at birth
a terrible

new death

is born


About the Poet

Barolong Seboni was born in Botswana on the 27th of April 1957. He spent his early years in London (1966-1970), and was in the USA from 1984 to 1987, where he studied for his MA in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. He was a teacher at the Mater Spei College, Francistown, Botswana (1978-1983). He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the English department at the University of Botswana

Image: "My Bed" by Sarah Joy.