Congratulations and well done to Leaving Certificate student, Natasha Sutton who was winner of the senior category.
The African-themed short story and poetry competition for writers of all ages marks Africa Day 2018 and is designed to showcase emerging talent, as well as established writers. This is the fourth year that the competition has taken place.
The sun glistens in the sky over rural Malawi. It is the middle of July.
A teenage girl walks five kilometres to school,
Her face gleaming with delight.
In Cork we leave our beds, prepared for our journey to a land so very far from our own.
Fourteen hours later, our plane prepares to touch the ground of Lilongwe. We take our first steps on the soil of Africa. The midst of the unknown.
The Warm Heart of Africa it was and remains,
The Lake so vibrant and pure.
The road a burnt orange colour. Goats line the way.
Bicycles drift to and froe.
Market Stalls nearby,
Oranges, sugarcane, Irish potatoes,
Chitenjes, nsima and mice.
The girl arrives at school,
Awaiting her day ahead,
Education a powerful weapon
Which she is so happy to possess.
Table and chairs there are few,
But an atmosphere second to none,
Kilo kilo kilo!
An excellent job well done!
Her eyes deep and blue,
The exact same colour as mine.
Her smile I cannot forget,
Her nature so loving and kind.
She tells me she would love to knit,
A lifelong skill she dreams to have.
She tells me she would like a schoolbag. The words linger to this day.
A schoolbag could change her perspective. A schoolbag could change her life.
Her dress was green and yellow,
Colours reminiscent of home,
Our home back in Ireland,
The Emerald Isle we adore.
As we are greeted with song and dance, A Malawian welcome true and true.
We can not help but remember our land and the musical tradition too.
Similarities there are many,
Differences there are few,
The warm kind nature of our people
Malawi and Ireland we are two.
A country so very small,
We travelled a district a day,
Lost in the heart of Africa,
A hidden gem to this day.
From Phalombe to Mangochi,
A journey we did take,
A special thought inside our heads,
A warm remembrance we don’t forget.
Much more alike then different
A friendship so very rare.
For a moment our paths had crossed
Under that summer Mangochi air.
I hope some day to meet you.
To see your face once more.
Perhaps that day we shall see you.
In rural Malawi once more.
Natasha is 17 years of age and a student at Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Co Cork. Natasha is passionate about development education and youth participation, in particular the SDG’s.Her entry was based on a field visit to Malawi in July 2017 with Concern Worldwide, after my team and I became Concern Debate All-Ireland Champions.