Theresa Sengova

The Age of Nostalgia

1.
They romanticised the beating of drums
Upstairs in a mansion
Attacked Neocolonialism
While their sons attended Eton and the Sorbonne
They were the 'Revivalists'

2.
They preferred a vacation in Switzerland
Not in the steamy hot villages of Africa
They entertained and were exalted
Their stories sold millions
While their people died of malnutrition
They were the 'Revivalists'

3.
The same story told several times over
Torn between town and village
Between piano and drums
While they exploited and were exploited
They were the 'Revivalists'

4.
The age of the romanticist is gone
Now we confront the reality
The reality of poverty and progress
The reality of needs and greed
It's an Africa of extremes
It's a world of extremes
Of skyscrapers and thatched huts
It's a New Africa


"I knew Theresa Sengova at Njala University College of the University of Sierra Leone. I was a visiting professor of English in 1983-4; Theresa, an education specialist, was a faculty leader. She had received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late nineteen-seventies. When she heard I was working with student poetry, she very shyly asked if I would care to read one or two of the poems she was writing. I would, and she eventually modestly showed a few more, which she said she would be pleased to have critiques of. She wrote in English, and I have about a half-dozen poems and critiques. Communication to, and conditions in, Sierra Leone have been very difficult for some time. In the late nineteen-eighties, Theresa and her husband, Joko (who had a PhD in linguistics), moved to Fourah Bay University College in Freetown, perhaps for medical reasons. Within a few years Theresa died, about in her forties. I never asked where she was born, or when. When I left Njala, Theresa agreed to have me seek first publication for her. This is her first poetry publication that I know of. I believe Theresa Sengova's work deserves much more attention." --Leslie Foster

The Journal of African Travel-Writing, Number 3, September 1997 (p. 60).

Copyright © 1997 The Journal of African Travel-Writing