Tell me why (Moody’s)

Tell me why (Moody’s)

Tell me why
we are to join
the dubious ranks 
of the downgraded

(I mean the country
has just been upgraded
to number 1 as it beat
England in a little game)

Tell me why
we seem to be 
your whipping boy
responsible for all
the ills of planet earth

We are not after all
bombing invading
or waging war 
against any country 

(we are only at war
with ourselves and
our women and children
not to mention those
who don’t look like us)

there is concern in Soweto
about Marathon runners’ safety
was the Ethiopian winner at risk
what with an politician waxing on 
about different cultures and races

and an amnesiac sports presenter 
says at the end that the rugby win 
was for the whole of Africa
(where has she been most recently)

Tell me why
Moody’s

is it the economy
stupid

The English of Domestic Violence, and The Domestic Violence of English

The English of Domestic Violence, and The Domestic Violence of English

We split infinitives
We split the atom
We split a skull

What wonderful beings
we are (we men)
we who are superior
to all things

We crack a walnut
We crack a joke
We crack a (spare) rib

We blow out a candle
We blow into our hands for warmth
Those same hands that 
strike a blow

We strike a match
We go on strike – 
and come home to strike
a woman and (girl) child
(in the quiet and dark 
of family life away
from the glare of the public)

We build confidence
We build houses (albeit matchbox ones)
We build relationships, which we
then break down like they are
our matchbox houses

We march, against apartheid
(of the statute book and the mind)
Sometimes we even march against 
capitalism and woman and child abuse

We name our children
We name hurricanes
We call women names

We take up burning issues
and bride-burning continues

We arrange our furniture
and we arrange marriages

What wonderful beings
we are (we men)
we who are superior
to all things

(Penned Saturday, October 08, 2005)

Photo Credit: Silindelo Masikane / enca)

only colour light and music

only colour light and music 

only colour light and music 
to our hearts and souls
says the Daily Maverick
reporting on the passing
of Johnny Clegg (1953 – Forever)

1953 – Forever they say
as his music will
be played on
a long time after 
the glowing accolades

Yet another says 
The dance ends
for Johnny Clegg
South Africa’s beloved 
musical storyteller

born out yonder Rochdale
to my knowledge
no-one here has
called him an alien
or anything the nastier

raised a bit in Zimbabwe
then peri-urban Johannesburg 
and its townships were
his teenage stomping ground 

this 15-year-old was taught
Zulu music and traditional dancing
by Charlie Mzila following him
guitar in hand to all 
the migrant labour haunts
from hostels to rooftop shebeens

(this we hear from 
the Final Journey official programme)

he who brought only 
colour light and music 
to our hearts and souls
has now made
his final journey

(Photo Credit: RFI / Alliance DPA)

Welcome at last to the 21st century

Welcome at last to the 21st century

so wrote a colleague-past
at my reportage of now
having one of those devices
you see folks walking 
into stationary poles with

is it any good
I enquire
as it seems
I have not been

I hear there is
running water
electricity even
and plentiful
(so politicians say)

Welcome at last to the 21st century
where you can see
hunger on a world scale
from local Bonteheuwel
to the beyonds of Syria
and darkest Africa too 

the 21st century
where humanity
behaves as though
there is another
planet to go and ruin

the 21st century
where women
and children too
would want there 
to be another planet
to shelter from the storm

there is illiteracy
and innumeracy too
on this man-trashed sphere
most especially down here
Africa South way

Welcome at last to the 21st century

(Photo Credit: Mail & Guardian / David Harrison)

man-up

man-up

It is said
about men
that they 
have it

The balls

that fascist ruler-past
out in Brexit country
she had it they say

The balls

we hear now
that she can
our Caster Semenya

she can
man-up
and race
against men

she still 
facing a testing time
in a world insensitive 
to anything unlike

(a strong girl she is
post-Saartjie Baartman
post-apartheid’s pencil test
and virginity testing too)

man-up
they say
those folks

are they men
one and all

those folks
who run 
athletics

man-up
they say

not yet
Uhuru

(Photo Credit: Athletics Weekly)

Just like

Just like

Just like
a dictator-past
(apartheid-military style)
finger erect

finger erect
(a Freudian slippage)
taking the moral
high on power

previously she warned
beware the elderly
a political hack competing
foot-in-mouth with others 
in election-time

no doubt she’ll say
no journalist here was
tortured or murdered (yet)
as we’ve seen recently
out at the Saudi consulate

finger erect
it can lose you votes
you might need greatly
in the hawking season

beware little children
as you grow up
to the age of voting
and thinking first

finger erect
journalists still
under attack
be warned 

Just like

The ruling class shows its class. Renowned Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered some months ago. And, you remember “We don’t listen to old people like Tutu – Duarte”, Cape Argus April 23 2009; Jessie Duarte, then ruling party spokeswoman, putting her foot in it.

(Photo Credit: JacarandaFM)

What are you worth (children of Valhalla Park)

What are you worth (children of Valhalla Park)

Valhalla – the palace of immortality
in Scandinavian mythology –
where rests souls of heroes slain
and there are statues and the like 
to the memory of illustrious individuals

What are you worth
children of Valhalla Park 
(might some even say
children of a lesser)

I know folks out there 
a computer literate mother 
of many offspring who 
I’ve not seen for a while

(how might they be
are they on the straight
and the narrow path
are they safe there)

What are you worth
children of Valhalla Park 
and the immediate surrounds
of your fertile growing minds

Are you worth more
or less than the biologically 
blue-eyed and blonde souls
wherever they find themselves

Are you worth more
than your counterparts
in the Palestines Yemens Syrias
of our globalized earth-ghetto

(what of the girl-child
forever at the bottom 
of the feeding queue
voting fodder cannon fodder
for politicians and spokesmen)

What are you worth
children of Valhalla Park 

What are you worth children 
anywhere and everywhere

Penned after a social media condemnation of the recent slaying of children in the area.

(Photo Credit: Voice of the Cape)

I cried

 

I cried

I cried watching
John Lennon
doing Imagine
on a white piano

I cried during
Missing
the movie of Allende’s Chile
crushed by imperialism
(of the America type)

I cried and cheered
at the end
of the Buena Vista Social Club
because of the socialist struggles
of Cuba and its people

I cried reading
Robert Tressell’s
The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists

(dad told a tale
back in the old days
of buying and distributing
copies to workers)

(the book a present in 1963
from mom’s older brother
John and his wife Fawzia
the two fleeing through Africa
to England in the period
teachers were being silenced)

I cried
(just now)
on unearthing another
revolutionary treatise
Rape of the Fair Country
with my teacher-activist mom’s
initials in it and the date 2/3/1959

(living in Claremont still
and I guess she expectant
with my brother Mike)

the last lines are rather prophetic

For ages deep wrongs have been hopelessly bourne;
Despair shall no longer our spirits dismay,
Not wither the arm when upraised for the fray;
The conflict for freedom is gathering nigh,
We live to secure it, or gloriously die!’

 

(Photo Credit: Carys Ink)

people like you

people like you

there are mouths
quite wide open
at this statement
on early eve TV

In our country
we rape
people like you

this said somewhere
to a young woman
in a relationship
with another

not another
pointy-eared
sharp-tailed alien
from Planet Other

the same Planet
colouring people
with bigotry hatred
and intolerance

or is it brewed
right here
on Planet Earth

that self-same
where we pollute
and carry on as if
we have another

In our country
we rape
people like you

Reference is made
to our rights enshrined
in the Constitution here

perchance our Constitution
is ahead of its citizenry
and its self too

for people
like you
and I

We remember Eudy Simelane

(Photo Credit: IOL)

In (the) front (of the crowd)

In (the) front (of the crowd)

In the front of the crowd
she was
when #FeesMustFall
hit our campuses
notes a Durban student

not in the margins
was she
says a civil rights leader
out the US way

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
labelled Mother of the Nation
by the everyday
(though apartheid denied her
mothering her own children)

a terrorist in the state’s eyes
and those who benefitted
from the collusions of apartheid

(tortured jailed banished
she kept the flame of freedom
alive during the dark days)

In the front of the crowd
uninvited a unionist jokes
she would just arrive

a journalist says people
have forgotten the past
and have no idea how
apartheid brutalized her

(and the post-traumatic
stress she and everyone
suffered and simply
carried on)

In the front of the crowd
not a spare rib
not an appendage
a person in her own

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Not yet Uhuru

 

(Photo Credit 1: Mail & Guardian) (Photo Credit 2: Wikimedia)