That is not right

Chanelle McCrawl

That is not right

A paternal grandfather
can’t get much sleep
as yet another
young one is killed

(she thrown on a field
like a piece of garbage)

That is not right
she is a human being

(a local library colleague
wonders whether children
are growing up too quickly)

elsewhere a besuited one
declares that gangs
are using weapons
of war

blustering on about
never failing our people
and liberating our people
from prisons of fear

is the mind not
that dangerous place
that weapon of war

male suspects appear
and are charged
while we fill that
other concrete prison

then tick off boxes
for political statisticians
and the statistics
of politicians

Is that right

“Another girl killed, another tenant held” (Cape Times, October 24 2017), “Charnelle’s mom shares her grief” (Argus, October 24 2017), “Another child found dead” (Athlone News, October 25 2017), and “Gangs using ‘weapons of war’” (Athlone News, October 18 2017).

(Photo Credit: David Ritchie / ANA / Cape Argus)

Gentle Justice

Gentle Justice

justice
awaits
victims wait
for some

whilst Special Ones
and the blindly faithful
get their way
and get away

Gentle Justice
an escape
from the glare
of the public

Gentle Justice
is what you get
when you are

well-known
well-resourced
well-connected
(pockets well-lined too)

(this in spite of our
Constitution lauded
and our Bill of Rights
and the like
on paper)

Gentle Justice
a higher-up gets
during Women’s Month

his just reward
for knowing
his place

(no shoot first or
fight fire
with fire)

justice awaits
and victims wait

A legal NGO’s spokesperson on morning SAFM radio has it that our Rainbow Nation’s night-clubbing higher-up deputy-male has gotten himself “gentle justice”.

(Photo Credit: Joseph Chirume / GroundUp)

a petite woman

a petite woman

Emma Mashinini was
we get to hear
on morning radio

a petite woman
that’s what she was

diminutive little elfin
tiny small short

Emma Mashinini has passed
trade unionist pioneer
pioneer trade unionist

a petite woman
that’s what she was

anti-apartheid fighter
fighter for women’s rights
a warrior on all fronts

women described
a woman described
differently to others
to men

(did we see
that appendaged
to late unionist
Ronald (Bernie) Bernickow
or music giant Ray Phiri)

a petite woman
that’s what she was

we have a long way

 

(Emma Mashinini’s short tribute (read by a woman) on SAFM’s (morning) AM Live gets this one going.)

(Photo Credit: Buzz South Africa)

Watch where you walk

Watch where you walk

Watch where you walk
we are advised
by folks in the know

don’t do a midnight
or an early hours one

(boyfriends bury
their girlfriends
in backyards)

don’t frequent the hotspots
police cannot be everywhere

behind closed doors
in gated mansions
in ivory towers
be-suited in committees

(you know dangerous areas
places like home like school
like the workplace like)

Watch where you walk
twin knifes mom and sister
famine on the horizon
for millions of children
(what way our grant fiasco)

femicide is the order
women besieged
sexual assault the daily custom
(in the broad light of day)

(a woman or girl raped
every 25 seconds down here)

Watch where you walk
International Women’s Day
and our 16 days anti-abuse campaign
has long since passed us by

Watch where you walk

‘Watch where you walk’ – cops (People’s Post Athlone, 14 March 2017). “Boyfriends bury their girlfriends in backyards” (Cape Times, January 31 2017), “Twin ‘knifes’ mom, sister” (Cape Times, February 6 2017); and “Millions of children are facing famine” (Sunday Argus, January 29 2017)

(Image Credit: 702)

nine times

 

nine times

a student leader shot
in the back
nine times

not Sharpeville
not Langa
not Thormton
or Belgravia Roads
on the Cape Flats

not under apartheid
but right here and now

students’ residences raided
teargas and rubber bullets fired
doors knocked down

post-apartheid
post-1994
under democracy
a constitution lauded
everywhere

a student leader shot
in the back
nine times

a woman to boot

(what will be said
when 16 Days of Activism
for No Violence against
Women and Children
is ritually celebrated)

so much has changed
so much transformed

so much
not

“Student leader shot in the back nine times” and “Sasco to ANC: Test free education” (Mail and Guardian, October 21 to 27 2016)

 

(Photo Credit: ewn) (Video Credit: YouTube / SABC)

On the run

On the run

(women) going strong
in a Brave Run
against violence 
(and patriarchy) 
from Khayelitsha
 to central Cape Town

Not waiting
(waiting in vain)
for our ritual
16 Days of Activism
for No Violence
against Women and Children

(when one and all come out
to be seen and heard)

Manenberg’s Rock Girls
and others braving
crime-affected areas
(and the country’s male-folks
who rape and murder)

(combined with
454 kids murdered
in (a) single year
combined with
smacking kids
making them anti-social)

On the run
braving the elements
(not the weather)
an inaugural event in memory
of the killing of 2 teenage girls
(raped and murdered in the same week)

On the run
not running away

 

“Concerned residents, activists sweat it out as Rock Girl uses 34km run to call for safety” (Cape Times, April 25 2016), “Brave Run links city in fight against violence” and “454 kids murdered in single year” (Weekend Argus, May 1 2016). See also “Smacking kids can cause them to become anti-social” (Argus, April 29 2016).

 

(Photo Credit: Rockhoppin’ Trail)

I don’t like (to be black)

 

I don’t like (to be black)

A mere chess game it was
where a young lass had
to decide on the hue
of her chess pieces

I don’t like to be black
she duly declared
not a hint of anything

no Freudian slip
no racism

not even an appreciation
(in a manner of speaking)
of the import of her words

I cringe almost instantly
peering around furtively
in the local library

in the local library
these things happen
not just in places
of ill-repute

(you know like
board-rooms like
sub-committees like
on official government forms
and in Public Holiday speeches like)

I don’t like to be black
merely a game of chess
two sides of different shades
one light and the other dark

there are pawns too
doing their bidding
some pieces more
valuable each trying
to capture the other

I don’t like to be black

A mere chess game it was

Our emperor’s relapse into black-white during the anti-racial-non-racial-tolerance part of his Human Rights Day speech, reminds one that we have far to go, still, 21 March 2016.

 

(Image Credit: WallPapersCraft)

If I ever do (become a writer)

If I ever do (become a writer)
 
If I ever do become a writer
one Isabel Pritchard pens
a letter to her 8C teacher
at Oaklands High 1992
 
(thanking her for having 
faith in her promising 
to dedicate her first book to her)
 
Yet another bit of history
unearthed in our household
in between and betwixt Africa 
and Youth Months
 
If I ever do become a writer
for that is what I wish to be
a dreamer too she says
(sounds like teacher’s 
John Lennon influence)
 
When she writes she feels
as if she is giving a part
of herself away
 
(did she follow her passion 
her dream in some way 
educating and encouraging) 
 
She stops herself
(I will have to end it
says she dramatically)
before her letter turns
into a novel 
 
Ending with something 
her tea-drinkingly English
teacher quoted
 
Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
which cannot fly
 
Did she stop herself
Did she hold fast and fly
 
A “Dear Miss” letter surfaces in the Kapp household, circa end-May into June 2015.

The Thrill is Gone

B.B. King played to a packed auditorium at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk, Mass. on April 3, 1978.

The Thrill is Gone
The Thrill is Gone
BB King is no more
we get to hear late
on Al-Jazeera News

 

(I take out my Royal Jam
The Crusaders playing
with BB King and the
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
on LP record of course)

The Thrill is Gone
a favourite of old
of mine and a grey-headed
neighbour down the road

The Thrill is Gone
Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr
and imperialism’s head-honcho
are duly and dutifully quoted
(what an improbable trio)

The Thrill is Gone
electric blues guitarist
who influenced many
(even did the prison circuit)

(he taught himself the guitar
he too was influenced
by those before even
by an aunt who had
blues and jazz records)

The Thrill is Gone
son of tenant farmers
yonder Mississippi Delta
the home of the blues

The Thrill that is BB King
is gone though
the blues is all around

Friday night we get to hear of the passing of Yale University honorary Doctor of Music, one Riley King; co-chair (my 1981 album tells me) of the Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation (FAIRR). In 1971 – the year after he won a Grammy Award (his first) for The Thrill is Gone, his Live in Cook County Jail became his best-selling album, identifying him with the cause of prisoners’ rights. His 1996 autobiography is titled Blues All Around Me.
(Photo Credit: AP)

21 already (on South Africa’s Freedom Day)

21 already (on South Africa’s Freedom Day)
 
21 already
you are
getting there
rather quickly
(might it have been
far too soon)
 
was the enticement
of international sport
(rugby and cricket chiefly)
much too much to resist
 
21 already
were we readied
for the occasion
and the great beyond
 
What have you celebrated
have you always had cause
to celebrate and rejoice
(are you selective 
in your remembrances)
 
21 already
(this coming of age)
does it seem times
are tougher now
in our rebuilding phase
 
(will we be reconstructing
forever and a day)
 
There are folks hankering
for a return to apartheid
corporal punishment
the death penalty and
keeping women and children
(and the other) in their place
 
(and quite nearby dogs howl
as a neighbouring child 
gets a mother’s loud beating
and a shutting-up)
 
21 already
would you do it
all over again
(Photo Credit: http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za)