Dangerous Abroad

Dangerous Abroad


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Look at that man he has squinting eyes / To me he is doubtful don’t you think?

That other one, and that one as well, / I count a dozen, more hostile than me



Dangerous Abroad

 By Betty Wamalwa Muragori

I left the shores of my own safe home,

To wander far and wide,

A ship adrift in foreign storms

In search of new adventure

Out of the blue from winding queue,

I alone am called

“Yes you, madam just follow me,”

“We want a word or two,”

“We won’t be long” the woman said

She smiled her mouth stretched wide,

I stepped aside and followed swift with no commotion

Quite curious now to play this game

To see where it would lead

And soon enough with little fuss the two start interrogation,

A sharp barrage of questions, to maximize intimidation

“Where are you going Madam!”

“Where have you come from Madam!”

“What were you doing there Madam!”

“And why Madam!”


I looked at those two and chose my attack

I decided to purr like a cat

And hid my claws for grand effect,

I must confess, I was going to play

 “Giving a Keynote address at a conference”

I spoke with divine composure

“What do you mean Madam?”


“I was the guest of honour,”

I followed kindly enough with two new questions

“Are you surprised?

Don’t I fit your bill?”

I now spoke motherly sweet,

“Is it my height, or perhaps my weight?

Or maybe my hair or rather that it’s not there?

“I know,”

I explained some more

“I cut it off, first in girlish pride

Only to expose a pleasing shaped head,

I chose to keep it,

See it in profile, at its very best

I urged them both,

But don’t touch,

That’s out of bounds, I will not abide your hands on my head.”


The woman spoke up,


“In these days you can’t be too careful,

The pattern has changed,

The world is upside down,

Women have joined men in their criminal ways,

They are shooting and killing and robbing some banks!

Now, we make no assumptions”


She blinked in rapid succession


“Don’t take it like that,

We are doing our job,

This is how we were trained,”


Said the man.


“And what job is that?”


I growled down low,


“Is that work, to lay in wait for me,

Oh lucky me, oh, what joy,

My very own welcoming committee!

How did you know I was passing through?

When this is but my very first time with you?”


The innocent man spoke up some more,

Unaware of the threat in my molten voice


“Oh madam, we don’t mean to offend,

I am employed to guard the nation

We are highly trained in detection

We have to be alert to stop all intrusions

You know these days there are dangers and more,

Alkida, and other terrorists afoot,

Spreading dread and fear from state to state

And ours is no exception”


I looked at him who had just spoke

With honest aplomb and certain clear tones

So sure of his words


And I started to snarl

The cat became lioness hunting her prey


“Oh thank you kind sir for that wise explanation

I see your point in its full summation

Those terrorists are truly exasperating

Endangering lives of innocent victims

I just wanted to know,

How many of them have been like me?

Beautiful and brown I mean

A woman, that is, from Africa?

Take your time, do not haste, and make a mistake

I am sure you have facts from the internet

Of scary insurgent women

From the Dark Continent,

Who have blown themselves up for a peculiar cause?

Do let me in on your special report”


I watched for awhile with the grip of my eye

Slowly I resumed my speaking


“So it is I with terrorist look, I alone in this colourful crowd?

I see a flaw in this deduction that could cost you a nation

I offer you aid for no special reward,

Look at that man he has squinting eyes

To me he is doubtful don’t you think?

That other one, and that one as well,

I count a dozen, more hostile than me,

Why not call them as well,

Really, I could do with the company,

So alone am I here all by myself”


And this last I speak for all to hear


The two are taken aback,

They turn to exchange incredulous looks,

Abruptly they send me away

“OK Madam, you can go!”

They say, as if dispensing a favour,

But the feline in me, won’t leave, not so soon, not yet,

I hold my look and watch them some more,

And when I am done, turn slowly to go.

*   *   *   *   *


Betty Wamalwa Muragori is especially interested in how Africans are constructing new identities as they redefine their place in the world.  She believes in the power of words.  She has a BSc degree from the University of Nairobi and MA in Environment from Clark University in Worcester Mass. USA.  Currently Betty works for an international conservation organization in Nairobi, Kenya. 

  *   *   *   *   *

Cut off My Tongue by Sitawa Namwalie

Cut Off My Tongue will leave you speechless! It rants, sweats, and breaks into song and dance as it explores the truths that shape us Modern Africans: Our beliefs, the way we behave and why. Woven into music and dance, Sitawa Namwalie’s dramatised poetry is moving and frighteningly honest. It is politics—and love—that bites as it teases!

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 19 June 2012




Home Betty Wamalwa Muragori Table  Transitional Writings on Africa  

Related files:   Queen Africa (and other poems)  Dangerous Abroad   Blue Eyed Dolls in Africa   How I Became a Marxist  An African Out in the World  

Mind Games and O  ther Poems  Say My Name   The Seasons of My City

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