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How To Eat Malombo Fruit

Yalie Kamara held the National  Book Critics Circle Emerging Critics Fellowship for 2017 (photo courtesy of the author)

Today on Earth Eats, Poet Yalie Kamara reads "Eating Malombo Fruit in Freetown, 1989" from her chapbook When the Living Singout of Ledge Mule Press, 2017.

Yalie Kamara is a first generation Sierra Leonean-American and native of Oakland, California. She was selected by Woke Africa's Choice for 21 Best African Writers for the New Generation, she was a finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize, 2017, and one of 10 nominees for the Brittle Paper Award for Poetry, 2017. Yalie's work has appeared in Vinyl Poetry and ProseEntropy Mag and Amazon Day One. Her second chapbook A Brief Biography of My Name was released in 2018 as part of New-Generation African Poets Chapbook Box Set: Tano, Akashic Books /African Poetry Book Fund. Yalie Kamara was interviewed by Dave Torneo for WFIU's Profiles, and appeared on The Poet's Weave. Kamara completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Indiana University in May, 2018 and is currently enrolled in a doctorate program at The University of Cinncinati.

Eating Malombo Fruit In Freetown, 1989
In Sierra Leone, the saba senegalensis is called the malombo fruit.

My Uncle Sonny cupped the 

malombo fruit in his palms. 

Between his ebony hands, it 

looked like a tired orange that had 

rolled on the dirt road for one 

thousand years. He must have 

noticed me trying to peel the fruit, 

which is the first mistake anyone 

makes when they have never 

eaten it before. He squeezed it 

until a little bit of it shot out of 

itself, like a pulpy lava bullet onto 

my grandmother's floor. I loosened 

a slippery knot of its tangy flesh 

and placed it in my mouth.

Sweet and sour, it slid across my 

tongue like a marble in a pinball 

machine. Malombo fruit tasted like 

the flavor before English, before 

any new language pressed its 

weight onto my tongue and made 

an accent of my body. A stranger 

to fruit with pits, that which I could 

not chew, I pushed to the back of 

my throat.


The pit swam leisurely in my 

throat like a tourist. My uncle 

laughed at my silent mouth and 

bulging eyes--he told me not to 

worry. Told me that before I had 

the chance to die or become a 

giant malombo fruit pit it would 

pass through me.


On an early morning phone call 

from Oakland, my sister still says 

that this is her story, that her throat 

was where the pit lodged itself, 

and that Uncle Sonny had not l

aughed and Grandmother's floor 

was the dirt outside. That it never 

happened to me, though I know it 

so well, the breathlessness of a 

thing being wedged in a place it 

does not belong. We cannot 

agree: the moment must be hers 

or mine. When we ask our mother 

who this keepsake belonged to, 

she split the ghost fruit between 



We tussle over a pit. We'd both 

rather choke than have no story at 


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