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Kangsen Feka Wakai Can’t Breathe

Transition are calling for responses to the latest sweep of murders by police of unarmed black people in north America. Here, a contribution by Kangsen Feka Wakai.

I can’t breathe because I watched the news and saw myself, crawling on a pot-holed filled street from Monrovia to Conakry by way of Freetown. I am the other. I named my last born Ebola, but I still can’t breathe.

I am Eric, Mike and Tamir. My grandma calls me Amadou, and my friends Trayvon. I inhabit your dreams. I am the night to your day. The bad to your good, and the cry to your laughter. So I laugh to breath. I laugh to let the air swim in, but I feel an arm grabbing me. I am humid, and like a New Orleans July night, I grasp for air from the Bayou’s wind. Yet I can’t breathe.

Yemoya, abeg o!

I see you. I see her. I see him. I see them but I barely see myself in the cracked mirror on the pavement. I can’t breathe.

Sir, I just can’t breathe.

So I drift above like air on a Chicago Fall morning. I hug the clouds, spit out rain, shine like the sun, then I see myself lying on a concrete pavement. I smell the powder. I dive to the pile of spent shells. I hear the chorus humming. I am asleep but still can’t breathe.

Kwifon, you fit see me so?

I sleepwalk through Heathrow, De Gaulle and O’Hare in a layer of soot, which all can see but me. I can’t breathe.

I smoke a joint for Fela, but still can’t breathe. I chew khat and read Achebe, but still can’t breathe. I shave my locks for Madiba… I try to resurrect Sankara… I say a prayer in Lingala. I can’t breathe, so I am booking my next trip alongside Sun Ra.



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