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Frank Njugi | In Saudi Our Sisters Veil Their Black Pores with Misery


“I imagine one day the sea will burst open
with the smell of you, hold its knees & cough out
what is remaining of your body that’ll will long to return home”
– Jeremy. T. Karn

In a small town between Riyadh and Jeddah
there is an African damsel
whose pigmentation is refashioned to be a diacritic
-of a dignity made only a sordid aftertaste.

At nights when it is dewy and moist,
with lentil soup she worships her Stenographer Rayiys1
before later on her spiritual core is puritanically cleansed by him;
an act to punish her blackness he explains.

On the back patio which she is tasked to lave constantly,
in its depths if you were to become an archaeologist,
I doubt you would find the corpse of an Arab Matriarch
and not the black one of a predeceasing damsel.

Also every day before her five hours of sleep
she says a very short prayer;
‘if you are not to save me from ostracization lord!
at least when I die make me a Taita2

so that once more I can set eyes on my father’s land;
so that one more time he can feed me his grains.’



I look at the freckles in my mother’s face,
as the macules speak to me;
‘You don’t need broken, You need strength’,
I bloom into the flowering of a generation.

As the macules speak to me,
I become a cascade of inquisition
I bloom into the flowering of a generation
-a wisdom that speaks out.

I become a cascade of inquisition
I look at the freckles in my mother’s face,
-a wisdom that speaks out
‘You don’t need broken, you need strength’.


[1] Arabic name for boss/employer

[2] A region in Kenya


Poems © Frank Njugi
Image: Ellery Sterling Unsplash (modified)

Frank Njugi
Frank Njugi
Frank Njugi is a Kenyan self-taught Writer, Page Poet, Culture Journalist and Critic. He has had his poetry published/forthcoming in platforms such as Down River Road KE, Brittle Paper, Akewi Magazine, 20.35 Africa, Shallow Tales Review, Konya Shamsrumi, Roi Feineant press, Olney magazine, Kalahari Review, African Writer magazine, The Standard Kenya Newspaper and others. He has also written on arts and literary culture for platforms such as Debunk Media, Afrocritik, Sinema Focus, Culture Africa, Wakilisha Africa, The Moveee, Africa in Dialogue and Salamander ink Magazine. A 2023 Pushcart Prize Nominee, Frank Njugi was named runners-up in the 2023 ILS - Fence Fellowship seminar and has previously been Longlisted for the Akachi Chukwuemeka prize for literature 2023 and won a Sevhage-Agema Founder's Prize in 2023 as well. He was also a Sondeka Awards nominee 2023. An alumni of the Nairobi Writing Academy, he currently serves as the managing editor for Salamander ink Magazine and a poetry editor at Fiery Scribe Review. He tweets as @franknjugi.

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