Julie Wangombe perfoms her poem, "A Poetic Reintroduction to Africa", at TED Talent Search.


It starts with a flicker.

The pupil of his eye  like the wick of a candle being lit. Dim. Anger.
It starts with a snicker.  A sneer.
Callous, cowardly, comments, coughed off his tongue – you know when we were young, we once sung:
“Sticks and Stones will break our bones”

Who knew then that words, like nettle, could have stung us?

Who knew like we were clothes and they were hands, they would have wrung us?
Who knew his words would poke holes in the purple robes of your confidence?
Leave you exposed like lucid prose and wondering if maybe you are something less than intelligent, beautiful, human.
You know, there is nothing new under this sun.  Everything is common and so, it starts with just one finger being wagged in your face, as he shouts in your face, splatters specks of saliva on your skin, and holds back your wrist.
It starts with the little things you’ve seen.
Like that obscene way his whole body tremors and shakes when he is mad. How it causes his hands to tremble, see that clenching of fist?  Eventually your own hands will learn to nervously twitch, and like a richter scale- begin to predict, the incoming earthquake.  Maybe volcano? No, cyclone you know you will be unable to resist and though inside you will want run for cover and hide, you will find, you are always in the eye…of his storm. Center stage paradox because you are still … torn.

And it ends:
With black eyes, broken lips, bruised ribs.
With hospitalization bills.

With scars in places antiseptic, anti-bodies, plasters and casts could not reach.
With disfigured faces and disfigured phrases about staying for the sake of the kids.
With them begging not to be witnesses to your madness.

With sadness even though that was never your intention
With prescription pills labeled “anti-depression”.
With contemplations of suicide and murder.
With wishing you had never followed every admission of dating-era abuse by uttering the excuse:
“But…he loves me”
I hope one day you’ll come to truly see that  the power and violence of love is not demonstrated in how many bones he can break, but in how may blows He is willing to take for your sake.