Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reflections at Historic Jamestowne

   During a recent family mini vacation we visited Historic Jamestowne and Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia. The best part of this recent trip was being with my family. We toured the area briefly and went to Busch Gardens. We had visited both places almost twenty years ago, with our son and oldest daughter, who were small children, at that time. Then, we did the normal things that tourists do there, like touring the Governor's Palace and watching an actor demonstrate milking a cow.

    Yet, for me, the best part of our recent visit to that area, was the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center; it's like a museum. History interests me, so I was pleased to see that there was a lot of historical information, including the exhibits in the center. The historical information provided a little more in depth information on the most popular historical people of that area, such as Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, Wahunsenacawh, Pocahontas' father (also known as Chief Powhatan), John Rolfe, and the history of that area in Virginia, four centuries ago. 

   The early presence of Africans in this English settlement was acknowledged and depicted in the museum, their arrival in 1619, as slaves and/or indentured servants. This was noted by John Rolfe, the Englishman who married Pocahontas. Wahunsenacawh, Pocahontas' father, was a paramount chief of the Powhatan Native American people of Virginia during that time. 

   The interesting thing about this was actually being in the area where Pocahontas was born and lived within her Native American nation, until she was kidnapped by the English settlers. (She was later renamed and known as Rebecca Rolfe.)  I reminded myself that these historical figures that we read about in school, Pocahontas, her father the Powhatan the paramount chief, Captain John Smith, and John Rolfe were all there in that scenic waterfront area. Wahunsenacawh (chief of the Powhatan Native Americans) was a head of state, so to speak. They had a culture and lived and walked on this land, as we do now.

    Four centuries later, things have changed, but that does not change that Pocahontas and Wahunsenacawh were real people who lived in Virginia four centuries ago, long before the English settlers came. Captain John Smith and John Rolfe were real, too. The impact of their arrival (Captain John Smith arrived in 1607.) would reveal itself four centuries after their arrival. The indigenous population of the Powhatan people, Pocahontas' native nation, has almost disappeared.  This is not to emphasize what's known already: there was a nation of people here before the English settlers arrived. It's just to acknowledge the reality of this part of the history our country, how we converged there four hundred years ago, the indigenous population of native people, the English settlers and other European immigrants seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity, and the Africans as a forced labor force.

   So, as I stood there in Jamestown, Virginia, I pondered how Pocahontas and her father stood on that land, too, as a once powerful paramount chief and his daughter, who would travel to Great Britain to represent her native people to English royalty, though she died and never made it back to her homeland in Virginia. That thought made me ponder the visceral reality of them, in spite of being four centuries a part from them.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

For more information about the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center see

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:


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

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.


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


    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.


 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.