No Fun On a small island you trust everyone because there is nowhere to run.

It was all a gradual process,
An initiation, if you will.
A conditioning.

One by one the items of clothing fell off.

One by one
Week by week.

And sometimes,
Many items in one day.

The process was rushed,
But at his pace only.

There was no consultation,
No permission.
Nothing given, only taken.

Until the final day,
He made a promise: I will respect you.

I explained my situation, my condition.

I am a Muslim.

But I did not need to say anything,
He knew many things about me.
He was from a big city,
I was not.

I was from a small island,
Where the wind blows through your hair,
While you walk barefoot on freshly cut grass.

Where everything feels so raw,
And everyone knows about your pain.

He was sophisticated,
I was not.

I did not know who to trust.
On a small island, you trust everyone,
Because there is nowhere to run.

I should have known  it would mean nothing.
But he promised me: I will never take it from you.

Still, he undressed me.
Still, he turned me around,
So I would be unsuspecting.

And he did it.

He did it.

What he promised me he would not do.
What I was convinced he would not do.

What I tried to convince myself he did not do.

Tried to tell myself it was a bad dream, a terrible illusion.

I  saw blood on the sheets,
I could not hold back the sob.

The blood spot: no illusion
He had betrayed me
He had sullied me

I was so shocked,
I ran away.

I sat in the corner of the lounge,
Covers wrapped around me.

Mon plorer, mon criyer.
Mai person pan tan moi.

On a small island, you trust everyone,
Because there is nowhere to run.
In a big city, you trust no one,
And even then, there is nowhere to run.

Do you remember what you said?

You are no fun.
That nothing was ever fun with me.

And like a prophecy
Nothing was ever fun after.

No Fun, 2020. © Ondjaki.

Tanveer Jeewa is a Mauritian lawyer based in South Africa with an interest in constitutional law, human rights, and access to legal education. She is a managing editor and researcher at the African Legal Information Institute and a reporter for International Law in Domestic Courts at Oxford University Press. She clerked at the Constitutional Court of South Africa for Justice Theron and interned at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia as a delegate at the Youth Assembly where she was awarded the Resolution Project Fellowship. She is currently pursuing an LLM in public law at the University of Cape Town.


Ondjaki is an Angolan author, poet, and occasional screenwriter. His novels include Good Morning Comrades (2001); Grandma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret (2008); and Transparent City (2013) which was listed by Vanity Fair, Vulture, the Globe and Mail, and Lithub as a notable and favourite book of the year, and won the 2013 José Saramago Prize for Literature. Hope The Pitanga Cherries Grow: Tales of Luanda, his documentary about his hometown, was released in 2006. He is a member of União Dos Escritores Angolanos (Angolan Writers Union). His work has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, English, and Mandarin. Ondjaki is the co-founder of Kiela, a Luanda-based bookshop, and Kacimbo, an Angolan publisher.

Cover Image: No Fun, 2020. © Katherine Hunter.

Katherine Hunter is a Namibian illustrator, graphic designer, and dancer. She is interested in comic book illustration and fantasy fiction. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Visual Communication Design (Illustration) at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography, her honours degree in illustration, and her master’s degree in art education from Stellenbosch University. Katherine works as a graphic designer and typesetter at HouseFinder Magazine. She has also recently launched her own Namibian art brand, Maan Atelier, which focuses on creating fantasy artwork and stories.