Christopher Okemwa | Lecturer, Writer and Poet

The silent grey skies above Olot, the gentle rain in the evenings, the peaceful hills and trees around the Hotel Riu Fluvià, the ambience of the rooms – all contributed to my comfort at Faber Residency and provided an atmosphere for me to complete my project. My poetry project, “Love from Afro-Catalonia” was comprised of poems weaved from musings, dreams, wishes and desires for my wife back home in Kenya. The poems also attempted to capture few facts about Olot and Catalonia. A collection of these poems will soon be published. I will share the book with everyone who is reading this report.

I thank Faber director, Francesc Serés and the Administration and Communication officer, Gavina Freixa, and all those working at Hotel Riu Fluvià for their hospitality that made me feel at home. Thanks to my fellow residents who were also kind and helpful: Jennifer Natalya Fink, Monique Mizrahi, Laurence Estanove, Caroline Ligthart, Caoilinn Hughes and Daniel Humberto Escoto. They listened keenly to my poems and provided advice. One of the poems that I wrote at the residency is titled “If I have to”

If I have to

Oh Catalonia, dear Afro Catalonia

If I have to paint you, my friend Catalonia

I will paint you like an African bull

With huge legs that stamp the ground

With robust neck that pulls the plough

A determined head that navigates forward

Fiery eyes that see the farmland

Producing sufficient food for his children

Oh Catalunya, if I have to paint you

I will paint you like an African bull

 

Oh Catalonia, dear Afro Catalonia

If I have to weave you, my friend Catalonia

I will weave you like a dove

Non-violent and polite and quiet

Your greatest weapon of triumph

Your gentle nature that has won you hearts

Oh Catalunya, if I have to weave you

I will weave you like a dove

 

Oh Catalonia, dear Afro Catalonia

If I have to carve you out of stone, my friend Catalonia

I will carve you like an African giraffe

Tall and delicate but stable and strong

Able to eat high leaves in the forest

Able to see enemies coming from afar

Able to trample down animals under her foot

Oh Catalunya, if I have to carve you out of stone

I will carve you like an African giraffe

 

Oh Catalonia, dear Afro Catalonia

If I have to mould you, my friend Catalonia

I will mould you like an African wren

Intelligent and knowledgeable of the seasons

Who gathers twigs and grass to build her nest

And when rain season starts she takes shelter

Providing warmth and security to her children

Oh Catalunya, if I have to mould you

I will mould you like an African wren