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  • Writer's pictureAkumu Fiona

Cambodia: The Memory of a Dream

Akumu Fiona - Dabaki in Cambodia

Out of all the countries I've been fortunate enough to have existed in, there's one I'll never forgot. And by never, I mean NEVER.

Even in the unfortunate event where dementia wins the lottery, i.e. gets the chance to tinker with my jackpot of a brain, it won't be able to touch the brain-cell custodians of my Cambodia experience. That's not just a declaration. It's a promise.

How could I ever forget that gem of a country? How?

Granted that I had the most disturbing and heartbreaking museum experience of my life (Damn you, Pol Pot!) and the extreme cases of paranoia thanks to inebriation, Cambodia was a rebirth for me. It brought back that girl that had been long lost inside of me. It brought back the artist that I had shamelessly abandoned along the way.

The magic of sixteen

It was in Phnom Penh where the Dabaki journey began. I met the first bunch of artists with whom I would travel with to Siem Reap and later meet the rest who totalled our number to sixteen.

Sixteen artists. Sixteen creatives. Sixteen artistic weirdos breezing through that amazing country!

I've already harped on and on about how that journey and those guys changed my life. What I haven't done though is display the output from the journey.

Among us sixteen were filmmakers whose job was to document the entire journey. Their other job was to make the rest of us envious.

Maybe it's just me, but filmmakers have a certain je ne sais quoi. The way they are always stuck in their own camera worlds and the way they walk around seemingly possessed with their surroundings. It's just so cool and dare I say, sexy.

After hours and hours of analysing raw footage, and exercising their genius, our fabulous filmmakers came up with a final film that is nothing short of ffffffantastic. The extra fs are for emffffasis...sorry...emphasis. I just need to make sure you understand the degree I'm going for here.

I absolutely love the film and the magic it evokes. If that's not the case for you after experiencing it, (hello, alien!) you are definitely from another galaxy.


Yet another output from the journey that I'm sharing here is one that I personally worked on. I've been a little scared to display it online but my f*ck it! Let's do it! functionality is somehow on. And fortunately or unfortunately for you, it has possessed me to do copy, paste and publish.

A little poetic background

It's a poem I wrote about the magical journey. It's all thanks to Purnima (who was/is one of the poets in the sixteen). I told her I wanted to dip a toe into the pool called poetry and almost immediately, she dared me to dive. Not jump. Dive.

And so I did.

Well, I almost drowned. I kept losing my strokes and kept losing my float. But I lived to tell the tale.

You see, I've always found poetry to be extremely daunting. That's code for: I've always felt imbecilic when it comes to poetry. Mostly because of the 3-point score (out of a whopping 20!) that I once got on a poetry assignment in High School (thank you, Mrs. Akombo) and the endless agony of not grasping any of the very "far-fetched" symbolism in the pieces we read in class.

Now that you have that background, you will be kind enough not to judge this poem too seriously. Thanks in advance.

So here goes...

A little poetry never hurt anyone, right?


This whole thing was green to follow the theme: “Completely do it on a whim”,

With the tail-end of the trip already so trim, Cambodia had to sync directly into the scheme,

And it was not until I heard from him, that I actually got wind of the Dabaki team,

A journey that had started like a lucid dream, would now have me going out on a limb.

Nine days was meant to be us, filling hearts we would soon nurse,

What just so happened to be the curse, was that freaking awesome bus,

‘Cause really, to make everything worse, we could all lie down without a fuss!

Each day was to be in every one of us, happiness won quite like a purse.

In Siem Reap we would start building, a fascinating sort of feeling,

The sort to keep one spilling, all kinds of wild emotions wielding,

Each humbling moment became a healing, for the fierce art we’re each fielding,

One day after another yielding, an artist’s dream found it’s billing.

In Phnom Penh we seemed to dance, in an eclectic swing that would advance,

To me each experience became a SunDance, with art imprisoning us in a trance,

‘Twas such joy to witness Dabaki finance, a bunch of sixteen with a stance,

You really can’t blame me for this now prance, caused by the love for art I romance.

In Kampot and Kep we would inwardly weep, for days spent that the clock did nip,

I’d especially try hard to get a grip, slowly wondering if this surreal bond we’d keep,

Every new trace on the drawing of that trip, meant conversations kept coming oh so deep,

Even with the deficit of sleep in creep, each waking hour became a swag of inspiration to sip.

That artist that only in the past was seen, slowly stepped out released from sin,

The more she saw others use art to yang their yin, the more she yearned to be ever-so keen,

Each resistance that had ever masqueraded as kin, would soon fade out in hard-earned spleen,

And the realisation would to her eventually wean, that art for art’s sake is indeed a win.

So here’s the deal, I’m now happy to publicly spill,

That an “artist” I am still; so even when doubts take the wheel,

I’ll be exceptionally quick to thrill, or I’ll simply heed in kneel,

To a Muse in reveal, that Dabaki allowed me to will.


That's it.

That's what the journey was for us. That's what the journey was for me. That's much of what Cambodia means for us.

A dream. A dream come true.

A dream that we'll and certainly I'll never ever forget.

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