"In early November Jay rang me up for our semi
regularly scheduled poetry recommendation calls. ‘You have to read Kingdom of Gravity!’ he urged me, ‘Let me just read you a few lines and you can make the
So, he flicked to a random poem and read the following
‘When the hills were on fire,
There were no angels to guide us.
Only the equator was able to divide
The land equally. Even the night took sides.’
Even the night took sides?! EVEN THE NIGHT TOOK SIDES!
That line convinced me to buy Nick Makoha’s debut
poetry collection, which I have not been able to put down for three months.
Kingdom of Gravity does more than make music from the ruins of Ugandan politics
and history but speaks to a peoples unbound by simple borders. Makoha somehow
becomes a mouthpiece for the dead, the forgotten, the survivors and those who
find themselves in ‘a country where they do not know your name.’
It is almost cinematic in the way it manages to weave
together narratives from such diverse perspectives evoking a world somewhere
between nightmare and reality. Bordering lyric, prose and in some ways oral
history, Makoha somehow creates a collection that could easily sit in an
archive somewhere the way it deals with topics of authoritarianism, humanity
and mortality in Ugandan politics. These are the testimonies of soldiers,
priests, politicians, children and in some ways the very earth itself.
"These are the testimonies of soldiers, priests, politicians, children and in some ways the very earth itself"
As a product of the Ethiopian diaspora, Kingdom of Gravity
send me crashing back down to the soil I was uprooted from with the force of
its vivid imagery and emotive language. But it’s not even its technicality that is so impressive but its ability to
capture those tense moments that can rarely be described in words. Kingdom of
Gravity is the silence of memory, the one hushed by a generation of AK47s,
those lost moments when languages fly around the room just out of reach. It’s that feeling I get when the wheels hit the tarmac at
Bole airport. It’s the place we never got to call home.
"Kingdom of Gravity is the silence of memory, the one hushed by a generation of AK47s"
Fahad al-Ahmoudi is a Spoken Word Poet studying History at Durham
University. He has performed at venues across the UK and Ethiopia and is
currently the captain of the Durham University Slam Team. He is also the lead
writer and vocalist for a spoken word band called The Poetry Experiment.
@freeformfahad and @thepoetryexperiment