popular
Aminata Tejan-Thomas, Saidu Tejan-Thomas' mother. Image courtesy of Saidu Tejan-Thomas.

In ‘Borders Between Us’ Poet Saidu Tejan-Thomas Embarks on a Journey to Rediscover His Mother's Life

In his new audio essay the Sierra Leonean poet and storyteller shares a deeply personal, yet relatable, tale of familial relationships, sacrifice and forgiveness.

Saidu Tejan-Thomas first began writing poetry while pursuing a public relations degree at the Virginia Commonwealth University. While he soon discovered that PR wasn't the career path for him, he also discovered that poetry and writing were a meaningful outlet for his passion for storytelling. An interest in podcasting and audio work developed soon after. In his newly published audio essay, Borders Between Us, the accomplished poet fuses this talent for spoken word, writing, and auditory storytelling to take listeners on a personal journey of family, migration and forgiveness.

Born in Sierra Leone, Tejan-Thomas moved to Alexandria, Virginia in middle school to live with his mother, who had immigrated there shortly after his birth. This began a process of learning and unlearning his mother's story and the complex intergenerational dynamics that shaped their relationship. In the Borders Between Us, the writer shares detailed memories from his childhood, introspective observations about identity, and an enlightening conversation with his aunt that brings him close to understanding who his mother was as a person. It's a journey that many of us take on a deeply personal level, but one that some might be hesitant to share. Tejan-Thomas, instead, shares his journey openly and honestly.

OkayAfrica recently spoke with Tejan-Thomas about his latest audio work, which he described as "an essay and a poem all in one." Read our conversation below and listen to the Borders Between Us via the public radio platform Transom.org.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Beest/Getty Images

Koleka Putuma's New Poem Speaks to South Africa's Femicide Crisis

'This country buries us before we are born. Calls us by our obituaries before it calls us by our names,' writes Putuma.

South Africa has a long history of femicide and gender-based violence. However, over the past few months, this seeming war against the country's women has surged with numerous young women being abducted, raped and subsequently found dead—if found at all. Last month, South African women marched to both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton and the Parliament buildings in Cape Town in protest of the rising violence against women and children. Against that backdrop, award-winning South African poet and author of Collective Amnesia, Koleka Putuma, has recently penned an unsettling poem entitled "Every Three Hours" which details the nightmare that women in the country are faced with on a daily basis.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.