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an oldie: The African Rains

The African Rains.

the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.

the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

if you listen,

if you strain to hear,
while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.

If you listen,

the whispers of the ancestors,

speak to us all,
lending us warmth,
urging us to stand,
even though we may

even though we may fall.

adrift …

a cast-away,
swept by raging currents,
adrift on so many  streams.

an outsider,
scarred by jagged rocks,
gasping for air beneath rapids.

a lost traveller,
seeking a shore of solace,
between decades being flotsam.

my journey,
all endless wanderings,
as rootless as the shattered twig.

my future,
a mirage of hope,

tight fists of trepidation,

seeking not much,
but to clutch onto,

filaments of elusive hope …



Behind the barricades, tucked away beyond the layers of the impregnable buffer,

secreted in the unshakeable edifice, hewn deep into the rock of solitude,

countless thoughts blur, hazily scurrying past,
adrift on the breeze, yesteryears embers that cannot last.

These embers, these flurries of memory, escape high above the ramparts of this fortress of stunted, shackled thought,

fleeing the fears, the tears streaming down eyes unblinking, eyes devoid of light, eyes rendered blind, leaving grainy photographs etched in the receding mind.

All these memories, this nostalgic tugging, sewn into the detritus of what was once beloved, of what was once dear and true,

all those sun-kissed moments, once woven by infinite tendrils of hope, lie strewn here and there, and everywhere in between, all those dreams now merely flotsam and jetsam, thrashed upon the waves of the ocean so jagged, so stinging, yet so boundless in its shades of aquamarine blue.

Yet there exists, in folded recesses, layered in shrouds, wrapped in papyrus,

armoured sentinels, mutely grasping, onto all that was once all of you, onto all that was once all of me,

armoured sentinels,

standing guard,
fiercely protecting against forgetting,

fierce sentinels,
holding firm onto the persistence of memory.

The Divergence of Time …

The divergence of time …

There may have been a time,
when tributaries flowed hither and thither.

There may have been a time,
when forks along the paths spread here, there and everywhere.

There may have been a time,
when currents tugged heartstrings strummed in discordant rhyme.

There may have been a time,

one time, one moment,
ever so fleeting,

when clarity was torn asunder.

There may have been times,
a few, some moments,
ever so fleeting,

when hopes and dreams coalesced,
for that filament of time.

There may have been times,
across decades, imperceptible seconds,

when all seemed concrete,
when all seemed complete,

ah, but illusions are phantoms,
just out of reach,

as intangible in the gale,
as elusive to grasp,

as many a yesteryears newspaper sheet.

… and when this shroud,
the skin we moult,

traversing eons, sipping kisses, lapping tongues,
mingled meadows of scarlet red,

the standard waves amidst,

the smoke, the swollen pollen, detritus of ills scarcely-forgotten,

to flutter on the ramparts,
aloft, again,

for the pot simmers,
and the light of hope glimmers …

You …

You …

You have soothed the stinging nettles away,
your breath a balm,
your whispers soft as the oceans’ spray.

You have unmasked the spurious charade,
your hair a canopy,
your love so gentle as the delicate shade.

You have settled within my very core so deep,
your lips my chalice,
your kisses waking me from my fitful sleep.

You inhabit the largest part of my being entire,
your soul my wellspring,
your arms offer respite from the muck and the mire.

You inflame the passions I thought were all dead and speared,
your touch a furnace,
your presence a blazing dawn with all encroaching cobwebs cleared.

You transform each desolate night into a tapestry of light,
your eyes lift the veil of darkness,
your fierce desire envelopes me warm and tight.

You were my lifeline in the maelstrom in which I helplessly swirled,
your arms my anchors,
your incandescent sun the constant around which I whirled,

your truth a shield against all rocks hurled,

your trust an embracing shawl so effortlessly unfurled,

my life,

my exquisite world.

CopyLeft 2021

Covid-19 Thoughts: Monday March 8th 2021

As we all grapple with this strange and scary new world we now inhabit, it makes one think of what is truly important in one’s life.

The love and caring of family has above all else become our new “normal”.

This is not to say that we didn’t love or care for family before this pandemic and before our state of lockdown but we had begun to take things and people close to us for granted.

The Covid-19 microscopic virus has turned our world as we know it upside down.

A tiny collection of cells so minute has laid bare our arrogance as human beings.

The world’s largest and most powerful countries have spent trillions on large weapons that rain death on innocent people, and now we see all of us – large global powers or small island nations being “levelled” by the novel Covid-19 virus.

This is staggering, for me at least, having grown up in the era of the Cold War with its doctrine of “MAD” or “Mutually Assured Destruction”.

The Novel Coronavirus has, in a matter of months, disposed off all that human arrogance of power and our beliefs in that we control life and death.

The Covid-19 pandemic has flung into the the garbage bin of history the conceit that we are alone in, and secure in our wealthy countries and in our wealthy homes.

We are facing the realisation that we are all fallible.

We are pummelled finally, by the understanding that we are one race – the human race – and what affects one certainly affects the other.

The South African philosophy of “uBuntu” or “I am because we are” – that simple yet profound understanding that all of us are linked by a common shared humanity.

For those who believe in a higher power, these moments are particularly poignant as “Allah” or any other deity or name the different religions refer to “The Almighty” as is being seen as almost “humbling” us all, His errant children who have strayed from the path of justice and equality and truth and tolerance, and frugality, and respect for one’s elders and the countless humanistic tenets that religions share and espouse.

For those who believe in “The Almighty”, these are moments of solemn humility and prayer – salaah – masses – prarthanas – as we implore our maker to forgive us our trespasses – even the ones we may be unaware of having trespassed.

Such deep philosophical and existential ideas all prompted by a lethal microscopic virus that threatens to wreak even more misery and death upon human beings – with of course the most vulnerable in our societies bearing the brunt – the poor, the destitute, the oppressed, the beaten-down masses who have been savaged by the capitalist “profit over people” motive and the prevailing worldwide accepted economic model.

But, I see light here. I see glimmers of hope. This may sound all very well coming from one who lives comfortably and does not have to eke out survival on an hour to hour basis as almost five billion of our fellow humans on this earth of ours have to do daily.

The hope I speak of is the true humbling of all of us.

We have been humbled and this tiny virus has us terrified.

We have also been exposed to being petrified.

So the hope I speak of is that perhaps, just perhaps, the human race will emerge from this indescribably brutal pandemic with at the very least, having pondered and reevaluated what we as human beings have valued and taken for granted all these decades past since we began to truly progress in the fields of medical science and information technology et al.

These are just a few thoughts on this Monday the 8th of March 2021.

I will endeavour to introspect more.

I want to be less arrogant about anything – be it religion, race, social status, level of education, and all the other yardsticks by which we have until this point in our history measured what “success” and “happiness” really mean.

Prayers and wishes and thoughts to all those battling this plague, and to all human beings, but particularly to the teeming multitudes who have been for centuries beaten down and trampled upon.

They are fellow humans.

They must be accorded the dignity we so blindly take for granted.

Afzal Moolla
Copyleft 2021

For the Merseyside Moptops …

They may have wished they were Paperback Writers, and yet they’d never Imagine soaring with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds high above and across those fragrant Strawberry Fields Forever leaping Across the Universe With a Little Help from their Friends while running Helter-Skelter singing paths to Give Peace a Chance while Twistin’ & Shoutin’ their way to old Eleanor Rigby’s funeral with Father McKenzie, while all she craved was the human touch of Wanting to Hold your Hand when All my Loving Can’t buy her Love so Please Please Me and tell Jude not to be so sad cos’ the War is Over and its a Happy Christmas as the battles rage on and all we do Watching the Wheels go Round and Round, is saying Hello Goodbye to the Obla-dis Obla-daas leaning drunkenly on Penny Lane and being Working Class Heroes if only you’d Love me Do and if only we’d afford a Ticket to Ride to burn some Norwegian Wood Yeah Yeah Yeah cos’ She Loves You, because Yesterday we wore out our Rubber Souls strolling down Abbey Road soaking in The Ballad of John and Yoko while Letting it Be but only and only, once again, if we Come Together, at long long last, and striving, flailing to Give Peace a Chance …

She, and I

She, and I ...

I met her in another time,

the bus-stop sheltering us from the slicing hail,

I smiled, she did too,

as the wind screeched a shrilly wail.

Our bus splashed us with mud and we laughed,

we were never ones for fashion,

the books we carried were our escape,

the books were our world, our warmly hugged passion.

I asked her if we could sit together and she said yes,

we were two awkward souls,

both uncomfortable in our very own dark holes.

Our friendship blossomed in that unforgettable spring,

that humid year of lashing rain,

we talked and we laughed, we cried and we screamed,

we hollered at the world, wildly bellowing out our shared pain.

We were never a couple, we did not hold hands, we did not kiss,

we talked of escape from this place of emptiness so bleak,

and at times we just shared the silence,

no words needed to speak.

She was my anchor, and she said I was her balm, we shared a love of a different hue, as we danced in the monsoon rain,

our tears mingling with our gnawing pain.

We laughed as we shared the stories of our lives,

we sat quietly when we knew we had to leave,

we knew the knife of our present sliced souls, and like butter, into hearts did cleave.

We stood in the open expanse,

we cried, wishing each other good luck,

on that one day so many moons ago,

yet still, today,

at this moment,

my tears flow …

the wanderers smile …

sidestepping shrapnelled
shards of jagged life

deeply veiled
fleeing from salivating strife

sewing a tattered soul
a patchwork of forgotten lies spoken

a wellspring of
dreams broken

flung to the winds
cast away

the wanderer …

committing the crime

every bend

attemped rhyme
to inure time

upon endless

to bury pain

on cue
to mask loss


on cue


to paint on
the wanderers smile.

Covid-19 and the Collective.


We are floundering.

The world as we once knew it is being ravaged by a microscopic pathogen.

These are deadly times for many, and yet as always, it is the poor and the impoverished who bear the brunt of this invisible enemy.

It has been said how the Coronavirus is a great leveller. How it sees no race, no gender, no class.

But it does see class.

It does wreak it’s unimaginable havoc on the poor, the destitute, the hungry, those for whom the new buzz word of social-distancing means little or nothing at all.

The dregs of society.

The unwashed masses, in the “new normal” of sanitisers and gloves and masks and soap and of water.



The World Health Organisation (WHO) says:

“Billions of people around the world are continuing to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities”.



The billions of our fellow human beings who are at most risk of the Novel Coronavirus are those who live in the “developing” world.

These are countries who have been ravaged not just by misrule, but by the incessant oppression of their peoples and the plunder of their bountiful resources by the North.

The Uranium of Namibia, the Coltan of the Congo, the oil of Venezuela, the the $1 a day – young women mostly – who stitch together designer label haute couture for the rest of us.



We are those who don the garb of luxury, as well as the t-shirts that seem insanely cheap.


They are cheap because they are manufactured in the East and the South where scores of workers, and again always mostly women or young girls, sweat it out for obscene lengths of time, and for a pittance, and of course with no “social-distancing”, even as the rest of us shy away from family and friends.

These are some of the billions of fellow human beings with whom we inhabit this earth.

The “lucky to at least have a job” folks.

Where are the sanitisers, the gloves, the masks, the keeping of a safe distance between these human beings who stitch our daily wear.

There aren’t.

Why should they be afforded the same Personal Protective Equipment we demand in our various lands.

This is the grotesque face of the politics amd economics of Covid-19.

This is the ugliness on display for all of us to see.

But not to unite as a collective and to demand in this most perilous of times the rights and the most basic health and sanitised protection for these – the forgotten, would be an abrogation of our very humanity.

“Flattening the curve”, we are told will be excellent for us in our different countries, and yet for the billions of souls who slave away in every industry imaginable, there exists no “curve”.

They are dispensable.

“oh there are tens of people just wanting their jobs”, we are told.

Yes, this is true.

Yes, it is the knotted thread of the vestiges of colonialism and imperialism and economic subjugation.


So, where do we go from here, largely depending on how many of “us” make it out alive.

We must take this dreadful and most vicious of times to reflect, yes, and to argue, yes too, but above all, to unite in a way that only something as virulent of a plague that Covid-19 is to rally and to speak up and to apply pressure on all our governments to live up to what they keep telling us:

That this is the “new normal”.

There cannot be the pre-Covid-19 business-as-usual model, be it financially and entrepreneurially and societally.

There will be a “new normal”.

And this is where that sliver of a window of opportunity opens for us to take back all that has been taken from us all.

Wage protection.
Socialisation of all the basics human beings need.

Yes, the Novel Coronavirus is yet to rip through our world, cleaving its insidious scimitar into many more lives and families and societies and nations.

But, this could also be that moment, that comes rarely in history when we, the collective, the people united, the ones whom future generations will look back on and either ask –

“did they never learn?”.


“they did learn”.

And by learning,
by forging the links of internationalist solidarity,
by reclaiming our commons,

by taking this horrific plague to reaffirm that we are all one people,

and by most importantly, taking the reins of humanity back from the 10% and by somehow, as a work-in-progress, with failures and mistakes being made along that long road ahead of of us,

to retake that which has been stripped off us – human dignity.

And maybe then, and only then, may generations yet to come see us for what we were capable of doing, and of what we achieved in the post Covid-19 world:

A true coming together as a collective.

A true exemplification of the ancient humanist South African philosophy of “uBuntu” – I am because we are.

A philosophy that must flow in our veins now more than ever, that all human beings are intrinsically bound by a common humanity.

We may not succeed.

But we, at the very least, must try.

talkin’ Valentines Day blues

(inspired by Bruce Springsteen)

talkin’ Valentines Day blues …

no more cotton-candy floss, away with the veneer,
banish the gloss,

i don’t want it if it ain’t real,
if it doesn’t make me sing,
cry, if it doesn’t make me feel,

lose the smile,
painted on, all the while, tearing up inside,
where i crawl away to hide,

so get rid of the flotsam, the jetsam,
the crap we shovel each day,
making a living,
absorbing the uncouth words the bosses say,

cos’ I’m sick of this parade, this grand jury, this empty soulless charade,

of the fun and games, win, win, win, or be a loser,
and end up in ashes burnt by the flames,

take me away, lock me up somewhere far, away from the booze, the broken hearts, the asphalt, far from the melting tar,

i can’t breathe here no more,
with your cocktailed mocktails,
your canapes and your fluff,

i swear i don’t need any of this stuff,

so stuff it all and lets flee these concrete walls, closing in as dawn and dusk falls,

night in and night out,

i don’t want it no more, i want out …

… away from this city of gold,
where hearts are strung out in the cold,
and once a year chocolate shaped candies are sold,
and the lovers cling onto the fragile lives they tenuously hold,

i am tired of these fake verandahs,
faux-fur, purple blouses, brown shirts, club soda,

neatly trashed in recycled eco-friendly bags,

i want something real,
something truly true,

so c’mon girl,
take a chance on me,

i will have all of you,

far away we’ll flee,
where birds still sing free,

where we can be,
what we want to be …

(inspired by The Boss)

Patrice Lumumba: Assassinated February 13th, 1961

talking regurgitated impotent worldwide injustice blues …

I have been here so many times before, spewing forth words that must be by now a repetitive bore.

Scribbling this and that, having said it all so many times, these tired, paltry, meagre words seem to be just cobbled together into rhymes.

All my belched words appear impotent to me today, scribbled over and over again, reeking of stale garbage, stinking in the rain.

Words and emotions felt deep, gnawing at my being, spat out, to ears unhearing, thrust before eyes unseeing.

So I ask myself why carry on this wordy parade, of simplistic rhymes, of grammar unsound, yet feeling compelled to keep going on this endless merry-go-round.

All my walls shattered, my ramparts battered, yet still I need to throw up these words, hither and thither scattered.

I ask myself how can I stop, when most of humanity is used as a ragged mop, when the few like vampires feast on the human blood they suck, squeezing out sweat from the many who are condemned to bleed in the muck.

I see the good people all around me, burying their heads so they never may see, their religiosity on display for all to ooh and aah, while their own religions’ humanistic tenets they keep afar.

The curse of neo-colonialism, neo-imperialism, and of bonded labour, strangle the many, while the 1% their champagne do savour.

Misogyny, child-abuse, spousal and gender violence, hetero-patriarchy, female genital mutilation, in 2021 upon women everywhere is still what is endured, with all dignity slashed, while platitudes are spoken from pulpits, the sham of indignation hypocritically rehashed.

Governments the world over spending trillions on weapons of death, while pleading poverty when it comes to free, dignified, professional health.

The 99% still slaves to the tyranny of shameful wages, the same conditions that have tortured their ancestors through the ages.

Words of struggle and of principled defiance, words like ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘justice’, ‘equality’, have been cynically pilfered, by those in the corridors of business and of political power, while choking grimy dust across the planet does continually shower.

My mother is still paid so much less, than the very men who conjured up this economic mess, and if she demands higher wages she is castigated for the thoughts, while the business tycoons, the government men blather on about their newly-acquired luxury yachts.

The struggles of Nelson Mandela and of Martin Luther King, are neatly repackaged gutting out their sting, remodelled to be acceptable, while burying the essence of their revolutionary call, the demand for free education, health, housing, dignity, justice and work for all.

We wear these icons of resistance on t-shirts made in sweatshops in Bangladesh, the ultimate betrayal of their sacrifice, of the humane values they espoused, while the fires of resistance are with brutal, apathetic drivel doused.

This planet, our common earth, is being pummelled each day, nature itself is for profit ravaged, caring not that we shall leave behind an earth that has been for greed savaged.

When by the most powerful, ugly male egotistical, macho posturing is bleated out, beating the drums and threatening endless for-profit wars, the rest of us are petrified, for the mighty have long reaching claws.

Racist notions of supremacy are bandied about without a murmur of indignation, the evils of casteism, religious fanaticism, tribal and narrow sectarianism, grotesque nationalism, gay bashing, and misogynist sewage is poured with glee, and still we turn our collective heads, pretending we can’t see.

When speaking truth to power is deemed a capital crime, how impotent I feel scribbling yet another listless rhyme.

When societies are structured to create a craving for the materialistic trappings of capitalism, how easily tainted into swear words are the values of socialism.

What is demanded are not mansions of ostentatious gaudy gold, each replete with a marbled hall, but water, food, electricity, dignified work, health, education, housing, and peace and dignity for all.

They truly want us divided, on religious, caste, racial, narrow nationalistic, sexual orientation, male-female, and all the other lies, while all the while the hungry child for just some food cries.

They know if we break out of our narrow cocoons, they shall have to face the wrath of a united world, a world become one, for then none of their machinations shall suppress us, and only then shall our truest battles be hard won.

I may be a hypocrite for scribbling these rhymes, but then so are you for not hearing the bell tolling for a radical changing of the times.

How long will it take for us to rise, to dissent, to question everything that has been to us said, from the economy to religion to race, class, and to gender too, what will it take me to see what is right in front of me, and for you to see what is right in front of you.

When shall we cast off these shackles that imprison us, the shackles of apathy and of looking the other way, not realising that together we can and should and must strive for a better day, not perhaps to rid us of all suffering and all pain, all oppression, and perhaps not in one fell swoop, but at least taking our first steps towards progressive progression.

These scribbled, worthless words, seem nothing but an empty vessel drummed on and on each day,

but from the heart I do write,

about what I believe to be wrong,

and what I believe to be right.

Yet still the talons of grotesque for-profit dig deep,

buy one and get two for freemium today,

and all this under the benevolent gaze of Mandela and MLK,

Biko and Tambo and Sisulu,

Lumumba and Hani and Ché …

“Why him”, they ask her.

“Why him? “, they ask her,

“Why on earth, of all the oh-so handsome men, why of all the well-heeled ones, the well-lettered fellows,

why him?”.

She tells them that the day she met him, that day when they laughed and when they spoke,

that day when they stood under a leaking bus-stop in the torrential African rains,

she felt, for the first time,
that all she needed to be,

was herself.

talkin’ midnight ravings blues …

“I am fine”

no i am not fine,

i am as fine as a dung dusted shoe is from a shine,

i am not fine, i am lost, between alluring dreams, and silent screams,

sometimes a duet,

mostly a cacophony of noise,

white and bland and dull,

just enough to discern, that humanity is null,

with all humaneness void,

and of all conscience devoid.

Sapphire Sky

in the distance
flickering softly,

warm hope

bathing this
soft morning


whispering tales of journeys done,

beneath the canopy
of our shared

sapphire sky.

She who is free.

she who is free …

I would have called out to her, across the the green fields she walked,

her silhouette fading in the distance.

I would have called out to her,

she who walked her own path now,

free from all the weight that caged her will.

I would have called out to her,

yet I remained still.

the stream of life …

the meandering stream of our lives, hopping over smooth pebbles, jarred by jagged rocks, swirling down maelstroms, surfacing in placid waters, washing up all our carried detritus on tiny islands of hope, coursing through the rapids of fate, just as life races on, a perpetual journey wrestling the still waters where hope itself, seemingly lies in state.

our lives, the daily grind, the cacophony of the banal, remains afloat, seeking solace in between crevasses, welcoming the temporary respite from the incessantly onward flow, stripping our skin bare, raw wounds inflicted by the flotsam and jetsam of these travels, the travails of the many masks we wear, seeking respite in the promise of an endless sea, always just around the corner, where for once, we may moult our broken skin, and where for once, we may just be.

the rising and ebbing of the tides, leave us gasping for breath, a seemingly endless cycle of the distant beacon of joy, only to be blinded by the silt, as the stream rolls on obliviously, leaving us gasping for breath, a twig snapped in two, while destiny offers us the mirage of a peaceful shore, only to be struck by the truth, the tired realisation that the stream rolls on, evermore.

we are torn apart by the ceaseless wear and tear, the infinite tears lost in the deluge, our fleeting laughs, our vanishing smiles, being pounded against the silence of the shallows, with hope a seductive vision, prodding us to go on,

to not sink in the greying depths of despair,

while we continually fall for the falseness of the charade,

grasping for just another breath of life affirming air.

our shared strands

our shared strands
of light, of hope.

afloat on tendrils of starstuff,

whispering warmth,

hope may be found.

sketching memories,
painting tears,

falling like leaves,

etching reminders
of less warm times,

hope may be found.

time tenderly
infuses hope,

urging me,

and you, us all,
to embrace,

the here, today,

the now,

for hope may be found,


My mum with Comrade Nelson Mandela’s mother protesting against the imprisonment of my father and Comrade Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s

The 15th of August 1934 and 1947.

( dedicated to our late mother Zubeida ‘Jubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the mostly unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )


Our mother was born on the 15th of August, an auspicious day, in the winter of 1934.

Thirteen years later, also on this auspicious day, in the summer of 1947, India cast off the yoke of colonial oppression.

These dates, though a decade apart are bound together in our family, hewn together by the happenstance of fate.


The threads of the struggle for freedom, the hunger for liberation, the thirst for democracy, the ache of sacrifice, are intertwined.


The valiant freedom fighters faced the brutality of the enemy head-on, staring down the barrels of the imperialists with chins held high, relinquishing the comfort of inaction for the battle for those eternally noble ideals – the struggle against oppression, the quest for human dignity, the emancipation of women, the conviction of being a part of a greater cause in the service of humanity.


The struggle for liberation in South Africa and in India left many martyred souls, many more victims of appalling cruelty, the harrowing pain of families’ torn apart, the parents and children ripped from each other, the savagery of torture, the massacres of the innocents, the decades spent in prison, the years spent in exile.


The names of the martyrs bear witness:

Solomon Mahlangu.
Bhagat Singh.
Ahmed Timol.
Vuyisile Mini.
Prakash Napier
Steve Biko.
Victoria Mxenge.
Yusuf Akhalwaya.

Just a few names of the many more who gave up their youth, cruelly executed by the merciless foe.


The torch bearers of the struggles, are forever etched in our minds, always kept close to our hearts, for these were the giants who inspired countless more to join the just cause for universal human dignity.

Their names are legendary:

Nelson Mandela.
Lillian Ngoyi.
Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sarojini Naidu.
Walter Sisulu.
Mahatma Gandhi.
Dorothy Nyembe.
Oliver Tambo.
Charlie Andrews.
Ahmed Kathrada.
Sardar Patel.
Govan Mbeki.
Nana Sita.
Chris Hani.
Aruna Asaf Ali.
Andrew Mlangeni.
Margaret Mncadi.
Sucheta Kriplani.
Ruth First.
Subhash Chandra Bose.
Joe Slovo.
Raymond Mhlaba.

These are but a few of our eternal flames – the flames that shall burn bright in the hearts of all freedom loving people.


Our mother was born into a politically active family. Our grandfather a fierce opponent of racism and sectarianism in all its grotesque forms.

Our mother grew up in this cauldron of political agitation.

Our mother married our father and a daughter and a son were born, while Papa made his way in and out of jail, Mummy was left to tend for the infants, Tasneem and Azad.

Our parents were forced into exile, with their beloved young children left behind in the care of loving maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts.

Mummy as a mother suffered harshly and went through many breakdowns, being separated from Tasneem and Azad. I think only people who have been apart from their children will understand the pain of a mother.

People often think life in exile was easy. It was not. Papa was with MK and travelled continuously. It was mummy who was left with her thoughts, her grief, her pain and suffering knowing that her children were suffering by not having parents like normal families do.

People also called mummy ‘cheeky’ with a quick and bad temper, but can anyone understand the pain of being separated from ones own children and not becoming angry and feeling broken.

What Tasneem and Azad had to suffer through only they know. No one who has not been ripped away from their parents can ever ever know the effect that pain and pining has on the children. Today we see people whose kids go for sleepovers with friends and already the house seems empty and already the parents and the children miss each other and WhatsApp each other.

Tasneem and Azad never had that luxury.

May my nieces never forget the sacrifice mummy and daddy made and the pain of that time that can never really heal.

So may we try and spend time just thinking how it would be for the nunis if they had their parents suddenly taken away from them and then having to live with uncles and aunties, and grandparents.

These are the scars of history.

These are the wounds that never heal.

These are the sacrifices that go unnoticed.

These are the gnawing ache that history often forgets.

These are the experiences of countless mothers and their children.

This is the price paid dearly for the freedom and democracy we share today.


The 15th of August, a day of celebration of freedom in India.

The 15th of August, a day of reflection for our family in South Africa.

Long live the Women’s Movement!

Viva the strength and power of the women!

( dedicated to Zubeida ‘Zubie’ Moolla, and to all the women, the unsung heroines in all the struggles for freedom across the world )

My mother with Comrade Nelson Mandela in Stockholm 1990

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