Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Summer Visit from Mom


In the cool waters of the ocean, on a beach in the city of my birth, she came to me.

She, who had given birth to my physical form, greeted me so peacefully, joyfully, and silently.

In an instant, the sun shined more brightly and the cool air seemed to hug me.

The waves of the ocean tickled my feet, and I giggled involuntarily.

I felt her smile, and I sensed that I was shining in her invisible presence.

Joy filled my heart, and I was thankful for her visit and consolation.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum


Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Poem for April

 
On April

 Oh month of April, heart of spring, the emotions you inspire, move me to sing of the fresh and sacrificial nature you bring!

In April, my father and his mother, my grandmother sweetest, were born. And, seven days later, in April, I made my debut in the world, one morn.

Mid April, so unforgiving, deprived me of my mother, an experience I keep reliving.

What of some great leaders of the past ages who, in April, were martyred? Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, rest in peace with other great sages.

April, month of Easter joy and cheer, marks also the anniversary of the start of the 1994 genocide filled with death and fear.

April, a month of life, death, and rebirth, to me you are the most bittersweet month on Earth.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum




 
 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior

The following is an excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior:


CHAPTER ONE

Volcanoes National Park – Mount Muhabura, Rwanda

April 1994

As Joseph Kalisa ascended Mount Muhabura, he turned and glanced down at the numerous bodies floating in the Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo at the base of the mountain.  It was midmorning and the view would have been spectacularly pleasant, had it not been for the corpses floating in the lakes below.  Joseph then thought of the international law books on the desk of his office, thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., and about the 1948 Genocide Convention, which made genocide a crime under an international law.  The law must be enforced, he thought.  Yet, it was not.  So, he had become a soldier in one of the many battalions of a rebel army.

Assigned to one of the platoons within the battalion, Joseph and other rebel soldiers in his platoon ascended the verdant base of Mount Muhabura, one of the mountains of Volcanoes National Park. 

He was in his homeland, Rwanda, for the first time in fourteen years.  Two days ago, Joseph had a filling meal of sorghum porridge and beans, yet he had walked off that meal in the two day trek into Rwandan territory. He was a part of a two platoon group.  Joseph was tired and hungry.  His feet and legs ached.  His shoulders and back were sore from the weight of the M-60 machine gun over his left shoulder, the M-9 Pistol in the holster on his waist, additional ammunition, his backpack, which contained his tent, food rations, personal items, extra clothes, and a blanket.

Joseph thought about what Colonel Alexander Nkusi, who commanded their battalion, had said two days earlier, that killing groups were brutally killing Tutsi people, because of their ethnicity.  He then thought of his family in Rwanda, his mother, his sister, and her children and husband.  What was happening to them?  He hoped that they’d miraculously survived the genocidal mass murders which were taking place all over his homeland.  He wanted to see his family members and embrace them.

Sweat poured down Joseph’s back.  He remembered his life growing up in his homeland of Rwanda.  His mother was related to Rwandan royalty, although the official monarchy was defunct and no longer had any power.  His father, who was murdered in 1973, had been a professor at the National University of Rwanda, before he was killed.

Joseph pondered on the signs of eventual disaster.  His father was murdered, and, three years later, he was expelled from the Lycee, where he was an exemplary student.  Joseph remembered that his expulsion was for no apparent reason.  It was the ethnic division issue, coming back again, he thought.  There was widespread harassment and killings of the Tutsi people during that time.  These events convinced his mother to send him to Cameroon to attend school and to save his life.

Joseph survived and rebuilt his life in Cameroon, and then in the U.S.A.  Yet, the ethnic division issue in his homeland kept getting worse, as his family and friends conveyed their experiences to him in phone conversations and desperate letters.

He thought about his recent lifestyle back in Washington, D.C.  Two months ago, he was a corporate lawyer in a prestigious law firm in the heart of Washington, D.C.  He had graduated from Princeton University and Georgetown Law School.  He enjoyed life with his beautiful wife, Sojourner, and his toddler son, Joseph II.  They lived in an elegant condominium.  That life seemed like a dream, as he climbed up the mountain.

Copyright © 2007
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Purchase Lamentation of a Warrior on Amazon.com

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Brief Excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior




The following is a brief excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior,
the sequel to Sojourner's Dream.

CHAPTER FOUR

Kigali, Rwanda


June 1994

Blaise sat at his desk and listened to his phone ringing.  It was probably his wife, Blanche, he thought.  The phone stopped ringing.  He thought about the last time his wife visited his office two months ago.  It was a rainy April morning. The event played over in his mind.

Blanche entered Blaise’s office and smiled nervously.  She walked over to him and rubbed his shoulder affectionately.  Blaise sat stoically in his chair with his hands on his desk.  The fragrance of his wife’s perfume floated around him.  Her hair was styled and combed neatly, and she wore a pink dress which hugged her plump body.  A black beaded necklace sat on her large bosom.  She placed her hand on his and rubbed. He then noticed her painted pink nails.

“How was your day, my dear husband?”
“It was good, until I looked out the window and saw ten people killed within ten minutes, for no reason…  Other than that, the day is not too bad,”  Blaise said.

Blanche looked him in the eye and pressed her lips together. Then, she spoke.

“You must not let your colleagues hear you speak like that, my dear."


Copyright © 2007
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Purchase Lamentation of a Warrior at Amazon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

An Excerpt from Sojourner’s Dream, A Novel



PROLOGUE

    As she dreamed, she saw a handsome man walking through a tropical rain forest. The man wore military fatigues, and his boyish face glistened with sweat. Carrying an AK-47, he walked in a direction parallel to a stream. She noticed that the stream was red with blood. There was a primordial greenness and moistness about the forest. She could feel the thick, warm air. A monkey, sitting on a tree branch, yawned lethargically, as it watched the man walk by. The man started to run, and it seemed that he was pursuing someone. Suddenly, the forest gave way to a clearing. She saw the man stop running and look around. Green hills were everywhere. Then she saw the corpses of men, women, children, and babies. Some were clothed, and some were partially clothed. It was like a sea of human corpses, covering the hills; the people were so freshly killed that she hoped and anticipated that the bodies would move at any moment. However, to her despair, the bodies did not move. They just bled and began to rot. She wanted to call the man in her dream, as she saw him looking down at his military boots; blood had splattered over his boots. He looked up to the sky. Then he grasped the rosary around his neck and prayed. She heard him whispering the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel.

CHAPTER ONE

 Washington, D.C., September 1990
 
    Sojourner Brown felt giddy as a tall, dark brown complexioned attorney approached her in the law library of Livingston & Richards, a corporate law firm. Livingston & Richards was located in Washington, D.C., in an office building on Pennsylvania Avenue across the street from The Old Post Office Pavilion. The location was in walking distance to The White House, The Capitol, and The Supreme Court. That she was in close proximity to these institutions made Sojourner feel like she was in the center of the world’s most important location.

    The attorney approaching Sojourner was a lean man with an angular, boyish face and an aquiline nose. As the attorney approached Sojourner, he seemed to grow with each step. Sojourner estimated that he was about six foot four inches tall. She stood behind the counter of the law firm library, where she worked part time as a library assistant. The attorney’s name was Joseph Kalisa, and he was a new associate attorney at Livingston & Richards. Joseph’s name was included in the monthly employee newsletter, along with a note about the universities from which he had graduated, and his native country in Africa, Rwanda.

    “Good Morning, Miss,” Joseph Kalisa said. His voice was low and soothing. Sojourner detected a rich foreign accent.
    “Hi, Mr. Kalisa, how are you?” Sojourner said.
    “Fine, thank you. I would like to check out these books, please,” Joseph said, glancing quickly at the books he held in his arms.

    Joseph wore a chocolate brown three-piece suit, which seemed to be fresh from the racks of a couture designer’s studio, and a cream-colored dress shirt with a matching cream-colored silk tie. The cream and brown colors accented his smooth complexion, creating a vanilla and chocolate effect that made Sojourner’s mouth water. However, on the outside Sojourner was cool and professional.

    Sojourner opened the circulation binder and proceeded to show Joseph how to check out books from the library. Joseph signed his name for each book that he checked out, and she watched him. Joseph’s long, elegant fingers curled delicately around his expensive looking gold pen, showing clean, well-groomed fingernails. Ostensibly, Sojourner watched Joseph as if to help him in case he had questions about checking out the books.

    Standing near Joseph, Sojourner absorbed his scent, a light, clean, woody fragrance. His hair was closely cropped and neat, with a healthy sheen. Joseph carried himself with the dignity of royalty, and his disposition was serious and reserved. Although he made eye contact with Sojourner, his facial expression was almost blank. His dark eyes gazed, not at her, but through her. She was transparent to him, she thought. Sojourner was intrigued.

    Quickly glancing at her clothes, Sojourner thought about what she wore that day, a pale yellow Oxford shirt, beige gabardine pants, and brown Penny loafer shoes. The faux pearl necklace that she wore matched her faux pearl earrings. She was glad that she had taken some extra time that morning to style her hair in a chignon.
 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Some Reflections on a Church Journey


   As a young child, my attendance at church was often sporadic.  When I did go to church regularly, I went with my grandparents, who provided transportation. My mother approved of this and encouraged me to go to Sunday school. 
    As a teenager, I attended church more regularly with my grandparents who would pick me and my younger sister up and took us along with them to church. (I’m glad that they did.) The church that we attended was a medium to small Baptist Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Many of the members of this church knew my grandparents, and my parents. They represented the working and middle class African Americans of Atlantic City. 

  I cherished sitting with my grandmother in the church pews. My grandmother dressed elegantly, with a beautiful hat and high heeled shoes. She would sometimes quietly give us a piece of candy when we became restless, since church service was at least two hours. It was also expected that we were to dress lady-like when we went to church.  That meant neat hair and no pants for girls.

  My grandfather, who also dressed impeccably on Sunday, was a deacon, so he would sit in the front of the church with the other deacons (many of whom he had served with in the navy, decades earlier).  The deacons would sit in a cluster of hefty wooden chairs right below the pastor, who preached with traditional Baptist energy and style. They responded to the pastor's sermon by nodding their heads and saying "Well!"
 
   I listened to the choir, composed of mostly the older ladies of the church who seemed to pour their hearts into the songs they sang, regardless of the level of their singing talent. I liked many of the hymns, such as "This Little Light of Mine" and "Soon and Very Soon".  I even joined the youth choir which was small, along with a couple of other teenagers. I liked that experience, even though my singing was not the best either, and getting to church to practice for choir posed a challenge. I started to feel like I belonged to the church, even if my attendance was sporadic. That sense of belonging and warmth from other members of the church is something that I remember fondly.
 
   I knew the basics of being a Baptist Church member.  I liked church and wanted to be close to God. However, I knew much less about being a Catholic Christian. I knew about Catholic schools, where kids, whose parents could afford the tuition, would go. 
  
   That brings me to the present moment, three decades later.  My husband and I attend the Catholic Church, and we live in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I’m thinking about the confirmation process that our youngest child is going through. 
      Our two older children completed confirmation years ago.  This process culminates in the sacrament of Confirmation. It is organized by the Religious Education Department of the church, including the director and  Religious education teachers. The teachers are called Catechists and they teach the Catechesis, which is basic religious education. In the Catholic Church the Catechesis is a formalized curriculum.  It was good for our children to receive this detailed instruction.  I was happy that my children were on the path of spiritual growth and embracing their closeness with God.
   Now our youngest child, who is thirteen, is going through this process.  The confirmation process is detailed and didactic.  I adore The Bible, also known as Scriptures for Catholics.  I believe reading The Bible is critical and is the heart of Christian practice, as well as putting the core principles of The Bible into practice, as much as possible.  I also believe that the behavior of church members should encourage a feeling of acceptance and belonging, whenever possible. 

   I still seek that feeling that I attained, while attending church growing up, a feeling that I still long for after regular attendance and participation in church for more than two decades.  Maybe I am being too skeptical. I want to have generosity and compassion for all of humanity and not give in the urge to be pessimistic. 
 
   I have reminded myself that my commitment to church is a spiritual commitment to our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, and that I should not allow myself to be discouraged by what's going on in the world, and our human condition. Maybe that's it.  I go to church as a spiritual practice which prepares me as I immerse myself in the love of the Creator, our Heavenly Father.
   My sister still attends the Baptist Church, and I can see that she enjoys it.  It's a duty, but she also enjoys the actual experience.  Mostly, she says that she gains gratification spiritually and socially from her church.
 
   My husband and I have faithfully attended the Catholic Church for twenty-five years. (We've participated in various ministries, too.)  Yet,  I've often thought that the social experience leaves something to be desired, yet I'm not a social butterfly myself. 
 
   The core of my church journey is a desire to be closer to God, to continue to experience His love and compassion and to share it with humanity, and His creation as a whole.  When I focus on that purpose, God's love, I feel whole and happy. That's what I want for my children, husband, family, and all the world.

By  Angeline Bandon-Bibum