He lived with us very briefly
When I was still a child
My father’s elder brother

When we prayed before our meals
And made the sign of the cross
He teased us, Protestants, about having gone Catholic

When he shaved in the morning
He explained to us the mysterious science
Of shaving stick, cream and blade

Other than that he didn’t talk much
A quiet quiet quiet man
Hurt no-one, thoughtfully kept to himself

Very different from the others
Never preached, never argued, never moralised
Never scolded, just silently observed

Three decades have passed
Rarely our paths ever crossed again
A short Hello each time, nothing more

I’m still trying to understand
The pain I’ve felt all morning today
Since I heard of Uncle Joe’s death

It doesn’t make sense
Someone I hardly knew
Just a few childhood memories

Just a few memories
That remind me of a time
Rich in memories and childlike insight

And a few memories
Of a quiet adult who never found a voice
In a culture of big egos, loud voices and aggression

His silence was louder, calmer, more lasting
So deep that only his death
Would open the deep wound of memory in my heart

His middle name was Ahamefula
Meaning “May my name not get lost” –
No, dear Uncle, it will not.

In loving memory of
Joseph Ahamefula Chukwumerije
1935 – 2013

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

7 thoughts on “CONSTANT CRY

  1. This is very moving Che, even in it’s sadness … your last stanza explains it and makes sense of his impression on you. With very few words he shared love and wisdom, and it seems to me his inner voice was profoundly strong. Thank you for sharing and letting us look into your wound, there is so much to learn from the spirit of your Uncle Joe …


    1. Very true, Susan. Some people have a loud inner voice – but these people sometimes seem silent to us, because it’s a language we don’t speak much anymore.


  2. And I weep. Deep sorrow. So I know. Know perhaps how you feel. I could have done much more, even if only in conscious good wishes sent his way. Could have done much more for this good man, too good to wield the weapons of the world. Not too late I pray, so I pray, my humble prayers, that he may find his way to the luminous realms of peace. Uncle Joe, my friend, adiu.


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