Tributes of Poet Descendents
A Twenty-first Century African,
in anticipation of Emancipation Day - December First, says...
Think again, when you look at me:
masala-hued, ebony dark, or, all peaches and cream
and then dare decree, “He's not an African.”
Think of your myth about my easy road to freedom
defined by my rol, my loose-limbed, raucous jiet
in the New Year’s karnivaal
of the city where I was loved into being.
Think again when you write my story
and edit my essence as to a line in
a chapter of the book of apartheid.
Listen, when you hear my patois
as I answer to Mariam, Fransiena
or Shawn and then sneer or sympathise,
“They have no culture”.
Have you seen me praise-dance on laughing, Sunday streets
or in the green shade of the sad trees at Gate 9 at Maitland Cemetery?
Think of this, when ensconced in your West-coast cottage,
snuggled in the fire-logged warmth of
a week-end retreat ‘neath the Langeberg.
Or, when gazing down on the bejeweled beauty of the bay,
from the Cape-Quartered heights
of Loader Street that was once my home:
That I am of the first stewards
of this southern distance.
I am of those who danced a worship-stirred step
on the slopes of the Hoerikamma,
blessed in the light of the new moon.
I am the unsung mkhonto who raised spear,
against the Viceroy de Almeida
and his marauding marines:
My body, a shield for my children –
flesh of my flesh and of my colonial-martyred bones.
And when you see me marooned
on the water-logged Cape Flats,
in Manenburg and in Langa, Bokmakierie and Nyanga,
garrisoned by poverty and the lies of history -
then, listen in the dark of dawn
for the voice that calls you to yourself.
It sings of the greatness of God
and of the truth that all land and
all people is not to be owned;
that the goodness of the earth is to be shared
as a sign and measure of God’s love.
Maybe then, if you fall to your knees
in gratitude for a truth about your
acquisition of my enslaved flesh
and labour indentured to your prosperity,
you may learn something of the African you are:
And may your thoughts guide you home
to a new beginning.
© Michael Ian Weeder, May 2013