Reflections on the true souls of Africa from the third generation

This evening I watched BBC World News as I always try to do everyday in order to get a sense of what’s happening in the world. Some of you who are like me will have heard that North Sudan may declare war on the South  if it does not get its oilfields back. At first I shook my head in disgust that such a pointless conflict could break out, but later as I washed dishes I got a blast inside my head. I saw another Darfur, an orgy of murder and rape, and could imagine the West, as I did to that evening story, would shake their heads at another of Africa’s failures. ”Time to save they day!” they may cry and rush forward with neocolonial aid; while arms dealers lick their lips and, excuse the cliché, add fuel to the fire.

When I introduced myself a couple of days ago I forgot to mention the most important thing: I am a child of the third generation. A kid who’s seen two continents, two different ways of life and two perceptions on global affairs. A dominant America living the dream and a South Africa and Africa still battling to release the sins of Colonialism, Imperialism and Apartheid.

I still remember my last day of elementary school in the United States. I was saying good-bye to everyone when some idiot shouted, ”I hope you don’t get eaten by an lions!” It was harmless then, but now that I think about it was offensive, offensive to what this the ‘dark’, underdog continent has managed to achieve. This poem I found by Rex Warner will hopefully show that Africa is not dead but has persevered. It always gets up and goes work in spite of the obstacles.

Nile Fishermen

Naked men,fishing in Nile without a licence, knee-deep in it, pulling gaunt at stretched ropes.Round the next bend is the police boat and the officials ready to make an arrest on the yellow sand.

The splendid bodies are stark to the swimming sand, taut to the ruffled water, the flickering palms, yet swelling and quivering as they tug at the trembling ropes. Their faces are bent along the arms and still.

Sun is torn in coloured petals on the water, the water shivering in the heat and the north wind; and near and far billow out white swollen crescents, the clipping wings of feluccas, seagull sails.

A plunge in the turbid water, a quick joke stirs a flashing of teeth, an invocation of God. Here is food to be fetched and living from labour. The tight ropes strain and the glittering backs for the haul.

Round the bend comes the police boat. The men scatter. The officials blow their whistles on the golden sand. They overtake and arrest bodies of men who follow with sullen faces, and leave their nests behind.

JR.

Source: Allott,K. (1962). The penguin book of contemporary verse. second edition, Bungay, Suffolk, Great Britain: Richard Clay & Company Ltd.

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