Paradigm of Rejection

You wore your identity as a

Coat one size too small–

Confining, irritating from the

Constricting fit of history.

Neither Africa nor Azania*

Could break your self-hate.

As if the ebony clay

You were molded in

Became a fruit too bitter

To be consumed.

 

*Azania = South Africa

 

First Night

First Night

The frigid Highveld air had contempt for your anxiety.

It was an opening audience observing

Your scenes of fear and uncertainty.

A higher purpose flew you to Azania’s* ebony arms,

But on that first night you wanted out––

Back to the self-security of the homeland.

At a crude coffee table lit almost like a darkroom

You repeated your parent’s promise like an

Undeveloped exposure: We’ll only be here for a season.

Instead of critiquing the meaning of these words

You let your quarter of a KFC Family Feast become

A greasy morphine dulling your sense of uprootment.

 

* South Africa

Bi-continental Identity

 

Bi-continental Identity

Upon return to my land of birth,

what internal storm

will within me take form?

 

For my feet have kissed the soil

where ancestors lived and died.

Soil imperialism did savagely toil.

 

For my eyes have re-adjusted

to a new world gaze

that’s cleared away my Western haze.

 

But when I walk through the maze

of that ‘Free World’ terminal

it’ll be in a new, uncertain life phase.

 

So I wonder,

what emotions will be

invoked within me?

 

Will I be astonished at how he

who was raised in a once subjugated race

still sets a nation’s political pace?

 

Will I mourn like a returned refugee

at sites of youthful memories

now overthrown by weeds and graffiti?

 

Will I still look upon

those stars and stripes

believing all the superpower hype?

 

Will it have the mark of liberty and the free

or of war, surveillance and cultural conquest

to me?

 

Will the anthem I sing

reflect the blood I bleed,

enclosing a two-fold identity?

 

Oh say can you –

Nkosi sikelel’–

see –

iAfrika.

Flowers of Chibok

 

Flowers of Chibok

 

There, you had resided in a space

that shielded you from the chaos outside.

As you walked the halls of that mental garden

the desk was your soil,

the book and pen your well-spring.

Caring hands cultivated your being,

grew you in maturity and knowledge

from seeds, to saplings to young flowers,

our flowers,

meant one day to pollinate the continent

with your wisdom.

But now we look in anguish 

at your garden burned to ashes.

We decry how religious insanity

snatched you from your roots,

now holds your tired, withered

stem in its clutches.

From Chibok to Lagos,

New York to London,

we search for you and demand your release.

Like farmers with stolen crops we hunt for your thieves,

while setting aside a homecoming patch

where the desk, the book and the pen

can help you grow again.

 

#BringBackOurGirls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kwa Afrika Yangu (For my Africa)

The title of this poem is in Swahili, but does not reflect Africa as a whole, a continent of over 2000 languages, 1 billion people and 54 states. Swahili is only used to represent, but not define, Africa because it is one of its most recognizable languages.

 

Kwa Afrika Yangu (For my Africa)

Do not speak of my homeland as a country,

For it is a continent of many tongues, nations and cultures.

Do not speak of my homeland as being of big men and

despots, For with every one of them there is a leader of the people

with an eye on tomorrow.

Do not speak of my homeland as a sad, chronic well of Aid,

AIDS and poverty, For beneath the soil and in every determined heart

there are treasures abounding.

Do not speak of my homeland as being of war and orphans,

For in the children of a new generation there will be peace and hope .

Do not speak of Europe as a savior and developer of my homeland,

for the legacy of our mighty empires dwarf their footsteps.

And please… do speak of my homeland not for what it is not,

but for what it can be.

And do not, do not speak of my homeland as ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’,

but do speak of it as having the beauty of a thousand stars

and of it being the light and cradle of the world.

 

 

We’ve reached our goal… now what?

In the past few years, I have watched with Obama’s election and re-election and the progression of South Africa and have pondered on how often nations or people groups will work for generations to achieve some sort of goal, whether it be equal rights, democracy or independence, and once that goal is reached and the euphoria dies down they’re left the fundamental question: ‘‘now what?’’ I’m sure you’ve seen an example of this somewhere today, such as in Egypt where attempts are still going on to unseat the government put in power. It can be spotted in the history of Africa after liberation as a prime example.

The point I’m trying to make is that we as humans have a tendency to accomplish something and then don’t know how to build on it afterwards. In sport countless teams or athletes will have that moment of long-awaited glory before flopping the very next season: Everton F.C.  in the 2005/2006 English soccer season, Manchester City F.C. currently, Jensen Button… the list goes on. In literature the success of J.D. Salinger’s novel, A Catcher in the Rye caused the author to become more reclusive and not publish another novel.

To have some kind of meaningful life we need to update our aims constantly and never be satisfied. Always be ready to answer the ‘‘Now what?’’ question in all situations before it causes us to digress and stunts our inner growth.

I  wrote this three-haiku poem in the light of Egypt when it overthrown Mubarak and had elections, South Africa’s present state and as a connection from Civil Rights era to now for African-Americans:

Struggled gains

Today in freedom

we meet each step conceited

delighting in our gains…

Yet, our young soles lie wounded

scarred by memory;

bleeding, from our history…

Today in freedom;

we walk masked from growing pains

brought with struggled gains…

 

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.