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Hackney Writers

20 / 20 The Day the African Came: Afrique Fabrics

'The day the African came
Nothing seem to be the same
The day the African came
Gran Ma was deep in her cocoa trees
I was busy feeding the hens
Brother Tootoo was chopping wood under the
Star-apple growth whilst Old Faithful
Doze in the late afternoon sun
And there was the African coming towards me
Head bent, deep in thought,
wrapped in foreign cloth.

The radiant rays of light dance through the
Leaves high up over the trees
Creating an air so unexplainable
Just like the African
Engrossed in what seemed to be an immensity of thought
The African was quite unaware of Old Faithful
Running towards him full of aggression
I stepped in at that moment and seized Faithful
And there I was face to face with a real live African. 
In books I read of him
In magazines I gazed at portraits of him
Yes, it was really 'he', the African from the
Land I did know, and didn't know
However will get to know again
Gran Ma, brother Tootoo, come make haste
The unexpected guest has arrived. 
'Bon apres midi Mademoiselle' 
'Good afternoon young lady,' his voice echoed
Through my mind, an Anglo-French speaking African?
An African speaks African
Gran Ma and brother Tootoo stepped in and made up for
My manners setting before the African a feast
I stared and stared, glancing across to the mirror
I looked at myself, then to Gran Ma and brother Tootoo
And back to the African.'

by Eveline Marius

Maggie Hewitt, publishing worker at Centerprise, writes: 'Eveline Marius, whose family came from St Lucia, was a regular visitor to the Centerprise coffee bar. She was inspired to write by Bob Marley and the Wailers and achieved her ambition to see some of her work put to music and on radio. She never came to the Young Writers' Group. She preferred to write alone, in her own style, and not risk being influenced by other writers in a group, or the style of dub poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson. She chose not to write in St Lucian dialect as she wanted everyone to be able to understand her work.'


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Eveline Marius pictured right, 1982 © Centerprise Young Photographers' Group