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)

Love is all around

 

Love is all around

Love is all around
is my lyrical response
to a Vukani letter-writer
from out yonder KTC

Where is love
in the townships
is the question asked
(amidst partying and drinking
round our social grant days)

Love is all around
I declare as I ramble
in and about Site C Khayelitsha

A bustling Saturday morning
down Govan Mbeki Road
to the Whizz ICT Centre
for their Youth Centre Launch
and an end-user computer Graduation

(them a small light of hope
all about community sustainability
in a place overshadowed)

Love is all around (too)
at the Moses Mabhida Library
where I’ve been before
for a Reading Competition
(fall in love with learning
says a mural on their wall)

Love is all around
5 happy earthly hours I spend
(language notwithstanding)
as the Youth Centre is launched
and students joyously graduate

Love is all around

What stops you
from making it so too

 

“Where is love in the townships?” (Letters, Vukani community paper, October 30 2014)

 

(Photo Credit: Whizz ICT Centre)

One can ask the question

June Orsmond and students asking the questions

One can ask the question

One can ask the question
empowering young minds
as a 77-year-old is doing
at Lavender Hill High School
(outside of our ritual Days)

One can ask the question
why the white woman label
20-odd years in to a democracy
the media reports as such
(are they still group-thinking)

All the white I know
is the hoary-old ditty
A whiter shade of pale
a little-known collective noun
a whiteness of swans
(and the Beatles’ White Album)

I ask the question
from a non-racial rearing
enfolded by humanists
political educators teachers
civic-minded campaigners
(African) Marxists and Socialists
feminists and womynists too

(with Achebe and Ngugi
and Neruda and Brecht
they made their mark though
not with corporal punishment)

One can ask the question
with all the progressive battles
(no normal sport in an abnormal)
where has all the non-racialism gone
was it just a passing charade

One can ask the question
what seeds do we plant
as June Orsmond is doing
(the power of one person)
in Lavender Hill and elsewhere
in the ghetto of young minds

Marina da Gama grandmother June Orsmond’s work, in “The power of one” (Argus, July 2 2014), brings forth the question.

(Photo Credit: Cape Argus)

(Not) While the city sleeps

(Not) While the city sleeps

(Not) While the city sleeps
there is a child rape
crisis in the city
(a World Design Capital city)

(children should be
seen and not heard)

(Not) While the city sleeps
a terrifying epidemic
of sexual assault
(4 a day reported)

Never mind the police
Never mind our constitution
and flowery speeches about it
(Women’s Month quite far away
16 Days of Activism a memory-distant)

(Not) While the city sleeps
we attack our children
(and our women too)
with impunity

Malnutrition and hunger
crosses security fences
(that protect us from ourselves)
to be right on your doorstep

Is it the poor
Is it the hungry
Is it the jobless
matriculants and even
the homeless

Is it you
behind closed doors
in gated mansions
in ivory towers
be-suited in committee

How does the city sleep
(the city that works)
in the cold light of day

How do you sleep

 

“Child rape crisis in city” (Argus, 31 January 2014)

You (children) know too much

You (children) know too much

You children know too much
observes a grizzly-haired fellow
(his face on quite straight)
to the little ones with him
out in the village’s shop

(soon as you’re born
they make you feel small)

We heard that during apartheid
edicts issued from the mouths
of the guardians of our moralities
(girls wear pink boys)

(chop off their heads
chop off their thoughts
chop off their points
of view)

After all children
should be just
seen and not heard
never mind heeded

(are there young ones
at the Davos talk-shop
or any alternative)

You children know too much
no doubt you need to be
protected from us
who are far behind (still)

(speak when spoken at
we virtuously holler at them
second-hand smoke at our fingertips)

You children know too much
thinking sharp thoughts
getting all erudite
ready to vote one day

(or even to be elected
to rule from a yonder fortress)

You children know
Never a dull moment, Saturday morn, January 25 2014, out in the estate of Belthorn.