misty hand pressing against a glass

Cento for Isolation

by Wale Ayinla

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

The way that the sea fails to drown itself every day.

I wake up & it breaks my heart. A return to the strange

idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt,

the empty. In an effort to get people to look into each other’s

eyes more, we just gather on the balcony & swallow all the silence

until we’re filled with fireflies & sleep.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


WALE AYINLA is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net Award and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear or are forthcoming on Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, Glass Poetry, Existere and elsewhere. He is @Wale_Ayinla on Twitter. He is the founding editor of Dwarts Magazine.

ONCE THIS IS OVER by Seun Lari-Williams

ONCE THIS IS OVER by Seun Lari-Williams

photo of sunflower

Once This Is Over

by Seun Lari-Williams

Once this is over,

I shall run into the arms of each morning

and take in the deepest breath.

My eyes will make friends with birds and flowers

and cars and buildings and clothes.

I will fill my nostrils with the boisterous

smell of bread from the bakeries

in Bavaria.

My teeth will shine brightly at everyone

who looks my way.

I will wave frantically at strangers.

I will give the warmest handshake anyone

has ever known.

My skin will hug the rays of the sun.

When the cold winds come,

it will not complain.

I will dance Bata with the rain. 

I will make the night sky my ceiling

and swim with the moon and the stars.

Once the iron gates are open,

Once these walls are broken,

I will be free again.

I will walk the streets like a

proud king.

 Once this is over,

You will see a new me.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


SEUN LARI-WILLIAMS was born in Lagos on 28th April 1987. He is a lawyer, poet, and flutist. His first anthology – Garri for Breakfast, was longlisted for the 2017 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poem, ‘A Little Violence’, won the second prize in the 2019 Guardian Newspaper Poetry Competition. He is married to his best friend, Feyi and they reside in Munich, Germany where he is a DAAD Scholar for a masters’ degree in intellectual property law.

APOCALYPTO by Rachel Magaji

APOCALYPTO by Rachel Magaji



by Rachel Magaji


in my village, a six-year-old girl became a canvas & her once clear skin was a shrine carved with obscene figurines. sharp machete-like pencils with clear lines cut through her skin like tattoos & she bled crimson flowers. 



the moon & the stars hid their beam & betrayed us. the only glows were yellow embers & black smoke that flew from the structures we called home once. we raced breathlessly into the starless night, embracing the darkness we dreaded. 



i think my neighbor’s alarm broke again. i didn’t hear their feet dragging languidly. their mother’s sonorous voice & their gruesome banter at the well didn’t permeate my dream. 

‘god must be good,’ i smiled to myself. till i saw their heads and their bodies standing apart. 


 how do you hold the ocean in your fist? 



i was told at seven that the blood of an innocent boy once cried & his murderer got an achilles foot. 

i do not believe ghosts exist anymore, grandpa lied. dead bodies only become dirt & whisk away with the wind. 


i fear my eyes are 

becoming a reservoir

of cascading water (tears)

& it’s getting harder

to keep it in.           


 ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’,

the priest reads & hurls a stone to my chest with his tongue (words) & kindles the fire in my nose (burns) & i convulse on the ground beside my brother’s grave. 



white: the color of the pristine coat on the pretty woman standing beside my bed. 


 ‘what do you remember from last night?’ she asks. 


/my lips swear an oath of secrecy/ with my tongue & hides/ the truth in the locket/ dangling in my throat. /she shakes her head in disbelief/ her face white like her coat. / 

/no! like the color of fear/. 


how do you master the knife?

you don’t get caught (cut)!


a tear escapes my left eye as my mother pushes her broken body (matted in bandage) towards me, eyes sore & swollen. 


she smiles weakly ‘one of them was arrested. he’ll be taken to the rehabilitation center’ she says to me.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


RACHEL RABO MAGAJI is a creative writer, digital marketer, and environmentalist from Kaduna State. She’s a graduate of Environmental Management from Kaduna State University, Nigeria. Her literary work has been featured in Hedgerow #130, Haikuniverse, Femku issue 22, SprinNG Literary Movement, Akitsu Quarterly 2020 Summer, The bamboo hut, and Abbyamam’s blog. Connect with her on Instagram (@dr_raeee), Twitter (@rachierabson), and Facebook (Magaji Rachel).

“We must be good stewards of our gifts” – Interview with Alexis Teyie

“We must be good stewards of our gifts” – Interview with Alexis Teyie

Alexis Teyie

“We must be good stewards of our gifts”

– Alexis Teyie

Alexis Teyie is a Kenyan writer and feminist whose works have appeared in Short Story Day Africa (SSDA), Q-zine, Writivism, and several other platforms.

In her recent interview with Kreative Diadem, Teyie discusses mental health during isolation and shares some creative self-care tips for navigating the pandemic.

KD: Alexis, your poems are deeply emotional and thought-provoking, and a reflection of the heart where they were baked. What are the things that make your heart bleed? What makes your blood boil when you write?  

Alexis: Ah (embarrassingly) still impossible to predict. I hate to see a little dying plant with the same intensity I am floored by intentional communities of care. Lately, I watch videos of dogs uniting with their humans to give me an excuse to cry for all the things I can’t bring myself to cry about (for fear I’ll be overwhelmed, or to avoid seeming petty). The world as it is right now is stripping a lot of us to our small, wild naked selves. This is good and hard. I’m trying to teach myself to sit with the questions, and the difficulty and not to hide from the impulse we’re all being called to — to encounter ourselves and the world we’ve un/built. I’m learning that intensity doesn’t always lend itself to writing, or making. I’m consoling myself saying, as Zora Neale Hurston taught; there are years that ask questions and there are years that answer. 2020 is certainly the former for me. I’m sending love to other de/makers out there: it’s alright to be still, alright to be unmoored, and off kilter. We’ll start again tomorrow.

We must be good stewards of our gifts, so yes, it can be excruciating to feel turned inside out in this thorny place, but that’s why community is so powerful and necessary for writers. Let’s take good care of each other.” — Alexis Teyie

KD: In your interview with Konya Shamsrumi, you talked about scripting ‘Water Lilies’ after eight months of writing nothing and highlighted how the poem lifted you from a depressing state: “… properly sick and drowning in the most acute loneliness of my life.” As a creative writer, how do you handle writer’s block?

Alexis: Writer’s block…gah. I don’t handle it per se. I’m trying to take a lot more of myself lightly, gently. [Matsuo] Basho has this lovely poem that I scribbled outside my last flat’s bathroom:

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.

So, I’m repeating to myself: you’re a writer even when you’re not writing. Attending to life, and attending to the world is a form of prayer central to writing as well. And, if I am patient, it is not a punishment to take a step back from this part of the work.

KD: What do you think is the main cause of depression and mental health issues in creative writing circles? 

Alexis: I am in no way placed to answer this in any meaningful way, especially with zero medical training. For myself, I’ve had to unlearn the toxic idea that all creative work is tied fundamentally to mental suffering. You can be healthy — and should work actively to make it so— and a talented, prolific, insightful creator. Certainly, staying open to the world exacts its own violence upon us; numbness allows other people to move more smoothly in some ways through the world. That said, we must be good stewards of our gifts, so yes, it can be excruciating to feel turned inside out in this thorny place, but that’s why community is so powerful and necessary for writers. Let’s take good care of each other.

KD: As the world slowly crawls out of a global pandemic that necessitated a measure of compulsory solitude, do you think there is a connection between isolation and creative work? And can you be open on how you spent the lockdown if at all it was made compulsory in your corner of the world?

Alexis: I’ve been in Nairobi for much of the year, and we’ve had varied degrees of restrictions in place. I’ve spent the time gardening, making tea, on the phone, staring into the sky, haggling with our dog, making elaborate meals for my loves— all in all, a quiet idyllic set up. I, for one, have been glad for the silence (in some ways) the lockdown has re-introduced into my life. I find myself doodling more, journaling more (thanks to Suleika Jaouad!) and reflecting in a less extractive way than before. In some ways, I’ve become more hungry and protective of connection, and the lovely people in my circle during this time, so I wouldn’t fully consider this period one of isolation.  I’m thankful none of my family has been infected, but as someone in the high-risk category, there is an underlying static that’s pervaded my generally mundane day-to-day, and that fear is hard to shake. We keep at it I suppose.

KD: You once described yourself as “anti-colonial,” and one can only imagine your indignation for racism. Do you think there is any form of racism faced by black writers in literary circles and how can these issues be addressed?

Alexis: We do end up haunting ourselves, don’t we?  But yes, I did say that, and still hold fast to that identity. De/Anti-colonial knowledges are so critical and necessary, especially now. I’m doing what I can, in minor ways, to contribute to growing this archive and canon, by excavating all the wonderful out-of-print African writers I can get my hands on. You’ll forgive me if I don’t get into the big and small violences enacted within our literary spaces — which, by the way, intersect with ableism and class and heteropatriarchy. I’ll just remind us of my favourite James Baldwin quote: “We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we’re still each other’s only hope.”

KD: What are you working on now? Is it another poetry collection or a pet project?

Alexis: An absurd mix of things: my darling Roseline Olang’ and I have some fun projects in the works (including making art books, publishing, and collecting East African photography); I’m super keen for Down River Road and the exciting projects in the pipeline, including Michael Onsando’s new poetry collection out in October. I’m also finishing up a collection (finally!) currently titled ‘Mountain Graves;’ figuring out how to properly grow coriander; and hoping to take up film photography again. We really must find our own light this year…

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

“It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not alone” – Interview with Tobi Nifesi

“It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not alone” – Interview with Tobi Nifesi

Alexis Teyie

“It’s important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone”

– Tobi Nifesi

Tobi Nifesi is a fiction writer whose works focus predominantly on socio-psychological issues. To date, he has authored three psychological thrillers: “The Burgess Theory,” “React,” and “Domestic.”

In his recent chat with Kreative Diadem, Nifesi discusses the connection between mental health and isolation, as well as what it means to be creative in the midst of a pandemic.


KD: Tobi, for those meeting you for the first time, what are the top three things you want readers to know about you?

Tobi: Sure, three things:

  • I’m a writer who shares stories and essays about sociological issues.
  • My fiction writing process is highly influenced by Dan Brown’s writing process – most of which includes a ton of research on historical and symbolic subject matter.
  • Like most writers, I have struggled with writing consistently. However, by engaging in small daily habits outside of writing, I am learning more about the nature of consistency motivation and applying those principles to my writing process. When I have completely figured it out, then I may be bold enough to share with other writers. Actually, I hope to – one day – teach the next generation of writers about the technical and psychological aspects of creative writing.


KD: In your works, there is a recurring theme that draws attention to mental health, what role does isolation play in proliferating mental health issues?

Tobi: One of the common phrases that mental health awareness campaigns and activists use is ‘You’re not alone.’ It is so common that I can almost, always, predict that a version of it will be used in any mental health ad campaign I come across. Regardless of how cliché it may sound, it is a necessary statement. It is important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone because that is what we tend to think when we are in pain.

Like physical pain, the emotional and psychological stress that comes with mental health issues feel – and may actually be – very personal. This idea is amplified when we are in isolation. Isolation convinces us that no one else is going through or can understand or can help us deal with our version of pain and stress. This is the role isolation plays in proliferating and worsening mental health issues.

So, it is important that we remind each other that we are not alone. There is someone else who has felt or is feeling a pain or stress similar to ours. Even if no one understands our pain, there is someone who cares about and is rooting for us, in one way or the other. Our shared experiences can help lift each of us out of our seemingly personal pain. 

It is important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone because that is what we tend to think when we are in pain.”— Tobi Nifesi

KD: As a creative, I believe it’s not strange to seek solitude in order to stimulate creative juices. Was the global compulsory holiday a blessing in disguise for you? Can you imagine what creative minds would have made from the lockdown?

Tobi: ‘Global Compulsory Holiday’ is a nice to put it. However, I can barely classify it as a holiday because I know several writers and creatives around the world have been under some form of stress during this time.

Personally, prior to the pandemic, my work was mostly remote. When the pandemic came, a lot didn’t change for me in terms of my working conditions. So, it wasn’t really a blessing in that sense. If anything, the blessing in disguise – from all this – for me is the opportunity to learn more about worldviews and social behaviours. During this time, I’ve learnt more about the nature of globalization today and the sociological effects of being separated.

I think there is a good percentage of creatives who may not have been productive or inspired so far during this pandemic – and there are those who may have been. There is no right or wrong group to be in. Yet, I hope that by the end of this pandemic, most creatives and writers would have learnt at least one thing that can make their writing a little bit better or inform their stories, essays, poems or whatever they like to work on.

Tobi Nifesi

KD: Tobi, you have authored three books —psychological thrillers — in the past three years, are you working on a book now and what is it about? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Tobi: At the moment, I’m in the very early stages of developing a story concept for my next book. So, other than the fact that it will be a psychological thriller, I don’t have much details to share about that. In five years, I hope to have worked or be working on a social commentary or documentary that raises social awareness about vulnerable populations in Africa.

KD: As an author in a world recovering from the scourge of a pandemic, what are you going to do differently and why?

Tobi: This is such a good question but I may not have a great answer. Despite the pandemic, my priorities and goals as a writer haven’t really changed. However, I have a clearer idea of the stories that matter to me. I intend to work more on them.


I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Thank you for the interview.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)



brown concrete cathedral


by Nicksha T. Mwanandimayi

According to the Oxford dictionary, ambivalence is the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone whereas equivocation is the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself. I think it’s fair to say that if you have read a couple of John Grisham novels,  watched CNN or Fox News since Donald Trump became the American president, you would be aware of phrases such as “Separation of State and Power,” “The First Amendment,” or “ Bill Of Rights.”

On the other hand, if you have lived on the African continent like I have for all my life, unless you studied law you would probably have no clue regarding the extension of power between the Church and State. What about Bill of Rights? In Africa, depending in which state you are in, the law and religion exist parallel with each other.

The state’s treatment of the church the world over is ambivalent. Routinely sidelined but recognised in the middle of a crisis especially when all hope seems lost, the church is like the bastard child in medieval England. Historically, the bastard was commonly referred to as a whoreson under normal circumstances. However, when the conditions required it, a post factum legitimisation of the whoreson would be convenient. The state’s treatment of the modern church isn’t much different from the way England’s history views William the Conqueror. With deaths and infection rates skyrocketing I read the following from the Vatican News, “Prayer is our greatest weapon against the virus.” Well, you had me fooled; I was convinced that someone said, “Science was our greatest weapon.”  People better start making up their minds. A month later after prayer had seemingly tarried against the virus, despite it being our “greatest weapon,” in the British Journal of General Practice, Charlotte Sidebotham had this conflicting attestation, “In the COVID-19 battlefield, language is our greatest weapon.” First prayer, now language? What is our greatest weapon against the virus then?

In a world void of absolutes, it’s easy to get lost and be blown aside by every wind of doctrine. On 8 April 2020, despite the Namibian Constitution unequivocally declaring the nation as a Secular nation, President Hage Geingob called for a day of prayer for the protection and welfare of Namibia against Covid-19. Having put the country under lockdown prior to a declaration of a state of emergency President Geingob requested, “churches who wish to participate, to ring their bells at 12h00 Noon on this day. All Namibians who wish to participate must unite in faith, humble themselves and lift their voices to pray for the protection and welfare of our country.”

Namibia wasn’t alone as Southern Africa’s biggest economy also followed suit with President Cyril Ramaphosa also announcing a national day of prayer on Sunday, May 31, in which all religious leaders and members of faith-based organisations were invited to pray for the country which had been hardest hit in Africa by the Covid-19 pandemic at the time. It is imperative to note that just like the former; South Africa is also a self-proclaimed secular state according to its constitution. It just so happened that South Africa was bracing for the worst and the bastard child whom the constitution unequivocally refuses to legitimise and give a voice was the first to receive a post factum legitimisation in times of crisis.

Namibia wasn’t alone as Southern Africa’s biggest economy also followed suit with President Cyril Ramaphosa also announcing a national day of prayer on Sunday, May 31, in which all religious leaders and members of faith-based organisations were invited to pray for the country which had been hardest hit in Africa by the Covid-19 pandemic at the time. It is imperative to note that just like the former; South Africa is also a self-proclaimed secular state according to its constitution. It just so happened that South Africa was bracing for the worst and the bastard child whom the constitution unequivocally refuses to legitimise and give a voice was the first to receive a post factum legitimisation in times of crisis.

What about the world’s greatest superpower with its infamous “Separation of State and Power?” On 13 March I found out there was such a thing as a House Chaplain when I watched a C-Span broadcast of Rev. Patrick Conroy leading the House in prayer primarily in response to the corona virus. Post factum legitimisation of the bastard child again? It seems as if the state had a love-hate relationship with the church. Not that the church hasn’t had its fair share of global dominance in years past. I always choose to live by the notion that you never judge a doctrine based on its abuse.

Everyone says children are sweet and cute, yet you would be considered a sadist if you were to judge a child based on their weak moments. The slimy vomit, unashamed excrement and yes, they intentionally wet their pants but for the better part they are the source of inexplicable joy. In our children we see a hope for a better tomorrow, and we are willing to fight tooth and nail for that whimper snapper. We endure sleepless nights through tantrums but giving up on a child isn’t an option. 

Unlike any child, the church is less than two millennia old and has made its fair share of mistakes. An orphaned child who had to watch the brutal and gruesome murders of her family, the church through faith, zeal and tenacity defied these odds to become a powerful domineering force to reckon with. However, the church erred along the way. In the modern world, if a church were an individual, they would be an inspiration to many, a yard stick of endurance. I dare say if the church was a child in the United States then they would be classified as the typical success story of the American Dream. Enduring beatings, hardships and historically verified persecution; the church also erred in its conduct. In society very rarely do we judge individuals based on their weaknesses but their strengths. We remember Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and all great men for their great accomplishments even though statistically speaking they failed more times than they succeeded. However, their successes outweigh the sum of their failures. At the onset of the COVID19 Virus, the church was a haven and believers and nonbelievers alike found common ground through prayer. Some prayed out of fear, some out of faith, some did not have a clue, however people were united through faith against a common enemy.


Remember how in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, in the United States when an old school evangelist, Billy Graham was called upon just three days after the attack to bring hope to a nation and a world gripped by fear? Addressing millions of Americans and hundreds of millions the world over at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Graham an embodiment of the values of the church and its teaching, quoted the Bible, Psalm 46:1  ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Hope restored a form of closure to believers and non-believers alike, the church was a unifying force on this fateful day.

In times of crisis when all hope is lost, the law seems prima facie and with death staring in our face in the brink of extinction, humanity seems to always call upon the church.

brown concrete cathedral

On March 14, 2020, President Donald Trump in his speech cited 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.”  He further went on to say.’ “Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time.  With God’s help, we will overcome this threat.” This calling on the church is bipartisan in the United States of America and in countries with a faith-based majority. The ambiguity though is in the detail. If the church is deemed to be the key cog when in crisis, why is its position in politics and in society ambivalent? If the church is essential amidst tragedy, why is it deemed a non-essential when it is time to rebuild? Often relegated to the back burner and ridiculed, paraded and deemed a necessity when the enemy strikes.

As we head towards the re-opening of the economies the world over, the very church which was called upon to fast is seeing hordes of individuals celebrating the reopening of restaurants and pubs whilst it’s deemed nonessential? If our scientific innovation mixed with the “weapon of prayer” were essential to the little progress we have made, why do restaurants and pubs supersede churches in the hierarchy of essential services?  One could even say to deny the church as an essential service is a disregard of human rights. Interestingly enough, people can be entrusted with going to the gym, attending pubs but are denied to gather in places of worship under conditions that are more favourable. 

History teaches us that for better or for worse, every time the church experienced persecution revival broke loose. The church is far more intricate than what people think. Whilst science offers tangible solutions and seeks corporeal answers, to most people in society the church is the source and nourishment of the incorporeal. The church isn’t as archaic as most progressives and liberals seem to think. The church didn’t catch up to science but science to some extent caught up to the church. The church knew, as evidenced in its earliest texts that our existence had a beginning and that space, time and matter are interwoven after all “In the beginning God created.” With a “scientific solution” to the current COVID Pandemic insight, the bastard is relegated to the pastures with the sheep whilst the legitimate sons ponder the future of the kingdom. As the prophet seeks to anoint the incumbent king, the bastard watches from a distance awaiting his time because as history continues to teach us, his time will yet come again. The bastard may yet be called upon to play another ballad for the incumbent king with his harp. The legitimate heirs will continue their equivocations. Regardless of the law’s ambivalence on the importance and role of the church, whenever a crisis arises the church owes it to itself to be a source of hope and throughout history when calamity strikes and the shepherd boy is called upon to play his harp and lyre, seldom does he remain silent.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


NICKSHA T. MWANANDIMAYI was Born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1985, a recipient of the Junior Budding Writers Association Award, he was featured in local magazines and was editor of The Johnian Echo. He published “Epitaph: Memoirs of a Cymbal,” which was ranked 16th in the Poetry genre on Amazon on 6 January 2020.

Pin It on Pinterest