Bicycle Ride & The Four Minute Long Song – Poetry by Banqobile Virginia Dakamela

It’s the Little Things

Banqobile Virginia Dakamela defines so eloquently amazing surviving and thriving techniques in her poetry below! The world holds its chaos, but through the struggle we can learn something new and embrace our uniqueness within it.

Bicycle Ride
The word lockdown smelt of despair and uncertainty
The looming emptiness ahead held no excitement

The bicycles came just in time
But along came agony

Knees and elbows scrapped
Ribs bruised
Faces tear streaked
The first ride
Was the worst
Their fall was my ache
Their tears my heartbreak

They screamed,
” Mama come watch!
We can ride without falling.
Send us to the shops
Or wherever you want.
We can now fly as we cycle. “

Discovering riding styles is the new order!
As l watch the trail of dust
Two helmet clad heads disappearing
I can only smile and
Think of what new tricks are in store

The four minute long song
The four minute long song
Is a four decade old love song

In the lyrics we promised to love
In the harmony we exchanged sweet embraces
In the melody we kissed tenderly
In the keys we vowed to stick till death

But then promises we failed to keep
Embraces we turned into fights
Kisses to insults
Vows broken and dismantled

The four minute long song plays still
The lyrics, harmony, keys and melody are still sweet
In its rendition I find reason to smile
At the sweet memories of a love once inconquerable


Banqobile Virginia Dakamela is a Bulawayo born writer. She has authored Lolungileyo Liyamtshonela Ilanga which features in the short story anthology Vala Singafohleli Lesisilo edited by Barbara Makhalisa. Some of her writings have been featured in Ponder Savant, Piker Press, Hawai’i Review and Better Than Starbucks. 

As If They Minded by Ndaba Sibanda – Book Review by Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, Bulawayo

Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, Bulawayo wrote a compelling review for Ndaba Sibanda’s book, As If They Minded. It is a book that is very relevant these days, and Banqobile gives a glowing description. I encourage you to go take a look.

Book Review by Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, Bulawayo

As If They Minded

Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light cannot do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love cannot do that”. Ndaba Sibanda’s poems are dedicated to what is left of peace and honesty. Indeed they advocate for peace and honesty through a wide range of concerns and subjects that vary from gender relations, nostalgia, nature, politics, race relations to social responsibility. The tone in most of the poems is scathing, satirical, animated whilst the pieces maintain and sustain an alluring rhythm. 

In ‘Family Time,’ the poet is nostalgic as his desire to fly on a plane and tour the world is replaced by an ache to spend time with his family.

they say jewelery is timeless and can be

passed down from generation to generation

but now my treasure is quality time with family 

There is use of anaphora in the poem ‘l Hear A Nearness’ as the poet ruminates, choruses the personal pronoun I at the beginning of each line.        

I listen 

I listen to the silence of her storms

I listen to its close remoteness   

 He also expresses the frustrations of a long distance relationship in the poem, ‘A Solid Impression’. The poet expresses his love for nature through the idyllic journeys to places of attraction. He is mesmerized by the beauty of the Namibian lands, the incredible rivers, waterfalls and beaches of Angola, the majesty of the Victoria Falls, the grandeur of Matopo Hills, the mystery of the caves and the splendor of the Esigodini Hills. The poet uses similes and hyperbole in his depiction of the impressiveness and uniqueness of African landscapes. 

Visiting Namibia is like taking an excursion 

To a heaven of deserts and wildlife reserves;

It is like exploring the lovely curves of a lover.

A rich experience that transports and transforms,

And leaves one mesmerised tenfold times ten!

Poetry in this book is interspersed with wordplay and figurative language. It is one of the ingredients of this publication, and by extension, the signature of the author. For example, the poem ‘Just A Jostling Village’ is alive with humor and wit from the first line to the last one. The poet places together contrasting and contradictory concepts, and this association helps the reader to perceive a deeper level of truth and tour and savor different layers of semantics.  For example, the presence of an oxymoron is discernible and delightful when the poet talks of police stations that are robbed every day. When he compares purity to mud, poverty to praiseworthiness, surely the crescendos and innuendos have reached paradoxes of comical proportions!              

they say they do not want to live in a city 

where police stations are robbed every day

where marriage counsellors are in the habit 

of filing for divorce, where working is not working for many

where flameproof fire stations have an appetite for burning down

where purity is as clear as mud, where love is cash, poverty is worthy!

where normalcy is as sweet as seeing pregnant virgins high on the pill!     

Relations between men and women are scrutinized in a number of poems. These are marked by either passion or conflict. In ‘ Hotel Music ‘, the persona fails to sleep because of a couple’s passionate love- making sounds which he finds distractive.  In ‘ Romance Tourism’, a couple’s love and intimacy is explored in what can be summed up by the axiom, ‘ shooting birds with one stone ‘. Whilst they explore their romance, they also get to appreciate and experience the tourism of a country.  On a profounder note, the poet bravely casts lights on the racialized, exoticized, and hypersexualized stereotypes involving local men, usually in Africa, the Caribbean or in Asia and the female tourists from economically well-off countries, usually in Europe and North America.

Rich older women in the young loving arms of poor local men who received gifts and cash

They seemed to enjoy succulent seafood and topped it off with beer and romantic carousing 

In ‘House Number 12 Foot Street ‘, a bitter wife is tipped off on her husband’s shenanigans and she exposes the illicit affair. Like a number of pieces in this collection, this particular one is a shape poem.  

Sibanda’s poems also touch on social responsibility.  In ‘Fierce Fiesta’, people are merry-making and indulging excessively in food and drink. The poet plants a reminder that in the midst of all the fun people should not forget about the future and different fees that have to be paid.  The poetic device at play here is alliteration, as evidence by the following lines:  

Families feeding paunches    

People party without leftovers for fees and future

In ‘Listening To A Guest On The Radio,’ the poet is raising awareness on the need for a healthy lifestyle while in ‘From Scars To Stars,’ he is encouraging the inhabitants of a certain city to move away from the hurt and pain of political marginalization to working hard to improve or free their lives. In poems that forge for social responsibility, he is also pushing the audience to frown on all forms of immorality and laziness but to find responsibility in hard work, creativity and resilience. 

The poet also touches on the importance of one`s identity, heritage and history in the poem, ‘That Is Where My Umbilical Cord Is’. The persona speaks with pride and passion about his city of birth, Bulawayo. The ‘Umbilical Cord’ represents an extended metaphor of one`s birthplace and a sanctuary of memories and beginnings. 

Today you stand tall in defiance of all the challenges

Right in the southern ­western part of the country

Just like in the year 1893 when a Union Flag was raised

As the huts of King Lobengula’s capital were up in flames

Did Dr Leander Starr Jameson not congratulate himself

For scoring a British South Africa Company`s victory?

Some of the poems also speak on challenges that writers experience in their careers. In ‘ Roar To Life ‘, editors encourage a young writer to write quality work.  In ‘Hallmarks Of Unprofessionalism ‘, a female writer is frustrated by the insensitivity of her publishers who fail to give her royalties for the work she has done. Some of his poems have a rousing touch to them. In ‘Crazy, Be Really Crazy Young Man ‘, the persona is reinvigorated to take up writing not only as a career, but as a challenge to reach dizzy heights. 

the profession of  writing chose you

like birds building their  nests on trees

the prophet said sorry young man

I cannot exorcise you without 

getting hurt myself and my conscience 

because that`s your forte and science    

The poet further probes into race relations, where he questions some sections of the white race’s half -hearted acceptance of the black race.  In ‘Is There Dignity In That Immensity,’ the poet lambasts those who are still imprisoned and driven by blind feelings of supremacy, narcissism, unilateralism, bigotry and greed instead of embracing values of common humanity, shared vulnerabilities, decency, democracy and unity in diversity.

The bulk of the poems in the collection are an attack on the political terrain of a country.  The poet mocks the self-centeredness of a dictator.  In the poem, ‘As If They Didn’t Know,’ he mocks the lavish lifestyle of a dictator who preaches patriotism and progress, yet he gallivants about to foreign lands while the masses are forsaken in peril and poverty. In this instance again, the poet manages to use literary devices with dramatic effect. The richness of language is evident.  The persona is used as substitute for something else– a croaking frog, an object, an idea or name it is associated with.  For example, while the repetition of the term frog is metonymic, the mere mention of the word croak is onomatopoeic. From another perspective, one can say, the word frog is used for literary effect because it evokes an image of a bullfrog idling and howling in foreign swamplands. There is a lyrical feel to it too.  The comicalness of this poem is masterfully amplified to a certain climax or artistic dimension by use of a thread of well-placed rhetorical questions.  

was our unkind king frog

gregarious in nature?

they asked when 

he was unable to croak 

he travelled with countless frogs

to many foreign  ponds and lakes 

he liked lounging in the exotic 

meadows and wetlands too

did our unkind king frog

have a sensual soprano voice?

they asked 

as if they didn’t know

he was active in the evenings

and at night :inflating his throat

pouch about the urgent need

to protect our lakes and ponds

did our unkind king frog

protect our lakes and ponds?

they asked 

as if they didn’t know

The poet has unkind words for a claimant who pretends to be better than his predecessor, yet in practice he is just a product of the same undemocratic and tyrannous regime. In the poem,  ‘Of Sycophantic Peacemakers,’ the inheritor pretends to be sympathetic and peaceful yet he is the engineer and perpetrator of the hatred, chaos and division in a country. When the country seeks to make a fresh break with its scared past and is in need of a true reformer, sadly an antipode takes over.  In ‘Haunted By His Mentor’s  Disastrous Ghost,’ the poet also ridicules the successor for pretending to be different from or  be better than his prototype. The poet also laments the state of the dilapidating economy. In the poem, ‘Finally’ he shows a country going through the worst economic meltdown in years.

In the petite but pregnant poem ‘Bhalagwe’ the use of an extended metaphor is historically significant and instructive. Bhalagwe is a disused mine shaft where shallow mass graves lie. Contextually speaking, the word Bhalagwe denotes crimes against humanity that were recently acknowledged as a genocide. This is a pictogram of overprotected, unchecked, and unattended injustices.  In ‘Of Policies And Capacities’, the poet exposes and satirizes corrupt tendencies that he blames for bringing the country to its knees. The poem has an interesting end rhyme scheme. It is a rhyming couplet.     

this economy has whiskey
how can it be so drunk and risky?

the poor say the prognosis is easy
for this country has a terrible leprosy 

termites and maggots of corruption
and governance constitute its destruction

There is a spiritual dimension to the presentation of his poetry.  In the face of gloom and doom, the poet paints a picture of hope, vitality and victory. For example, in ‘A Done Deal’ there is a biblical allusion of Isaac.  

the view could be blurred by

roaring and furious mists over

high mountains and sharp rocks

the road could be filled with thorns

and bottomless potholes and explosives

like an eagle–Thembani—soars beyond

the hurdles and prevailing situation around him

like an eagle he knows that as he soars the snakes

he is clutching  in his fist are a done and defeated deal

like one Isaac he is prospering in the face of adversities! 

The transformative power of literature is in its aesthetics, politics and poetics.  Ndaba Sibanda has proved once more that he is a socially, culturally, spiritually and politically conscious poet who is a voice for the voiceless. His poems are a pleasure to read. They are a must-read for both leisure and academic purposes. Sibanda uses language in a gripping fashion because he breathes life into his words. For Betsy Perluss in Wilderness Guide says, “If language is our way of describing the world, poetry gives it life.”

Biography of the author
Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net, Sibanda is the author of Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things, The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence, The Way Forward, The Ndaba Jamela and Collections and Poetry Pharmacy.

Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, Bulawayo.

Author of Book Review:

Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, Bulawayo is a writer who hails from Zimbabwe. She has written a story that was published in an anthology which was studied at high schools and is a set book in a local university. She has written extensively and is in the process of publishing some of her novels.

For better, For Worse and Other Poems by Banqobile Virginia Dakamela

Still Shining

In this series, you will be seeing artists from all over the world. Today’s art is brought by Banqobile Virginia Dakamela, a poet from Zimbabwe! She shares with us her words during these times of lockdown. Come enjoy her work!

For better, for worse

Sanitize, Maintain social a distance, Sneeze into your elbow
Did anyone stop to think
Of that man working in the far off lands
He is holding a hammer
The last nail needs to be hit
He is holding a syringe
He can’t put it down
Lockdown! Final warning
Mummy where is daddy?
Quiet, Princess, he will be here soon!
Inwardly she is conflicted
What if he has the virus–
Am I prepared to die with him
Somebody is there a law for spouses ?
He is knocking on the door
Stand back! She says
Open up darling , I missed you
I have to sanitize you
Did you really miss me?
I missed you but please I need to call help line
I need a home test kit
My husband might have Covid-19
Darling, can I get in?
Daddy is home, mummy
Stay back!
Honey ,you said for better, for worse
Let me in
Put on the mask ,Wash your hands ,Remove your clothes
Wait, you coughed
Are you scared l will infect you ?
But you said for better, for worse?

‘What Have You Brought Us’

She chants from the pavements
She is not a beggar
She is the queen of the black market
Her head is adorned with a white doek
She has more currency than the world bank
She is more powerful than a graduate
The rate is dictated by her mood
They envy her trade
They envy her dominion
She has no office
The pavements are her office
She is her own pay master
Her pay slip is engraved in her heart
Her skin glows in the city sun
Her bosom is round and warm where powerful currencies are shoved
In her business there is no room for negotiations
It’s a take or leave it .

I’m ebony black

Never been bleached.
Beautiful like a black petunia
I walk to the interview room leaving other hopefuls behind.
He barks ‘enter’
I slide into his office, my resume in my sweaty palms
He frowns, I smile.
My African teeth crooked and pointed
Escape from my lips
The holes in my nose big and gaping
Suck the air in his office
My hair kinky and neatly combed
Stands at attention.

He weighs me and guffaws ‘ No job’
I mumble a weak ‘ thank you’

Unspoken thoughts fight for freedom to be heard
My brother , you didn’t check my resume
I have a masters, a bachelor’s, wait, a diploma underneath all that
I have ten years experience
I have an award and a certificate of excellence
I did voluntary work
I helped an old lady cross a busy street
I rescued a snared puppy
I decrypted an intriguing password
I worked twenty five hours a day
My black skin did not interfere
My crooked teeth stayed well inside my lips
I have never bleached brother, but I can work forty eight hours a day if you want.


Banqobile Virginia Dakamela is a writer who hails from Zimbabwe. She has written a story that was published in an anthology which was studied at high schools and is a set book in a local university. She has written extensively and is in the process of publishing some of her novels.