Archive for July 20, 2013


The Ballad of the Eternal Vagabond…

I’m walking along, whistling my song,

No more masks,

no soulless charades,

masquerading as being strong…

I’m just a man,
no map, no plan,

my compass is my heart,
urging me ever on,

to pick up my smiles,
as I prepare to depart…

To walk along,
singing my song,

on these paths I’ve chosen,

thawing my insides,
that have been in limbo, frozen…

I’m walking along,
humming my song,

no more faked laughs,
without or within,

embracing myself,

as I strum my song,
to myself,

for now,
at last,

to myself,
I finally belong…

A Final Rant … for now

These sentiments expressed are not targeted at any specific individual or persons in general, but rather are simply my personal observations about what Professor Norman Finkelstein says when he talks about “our people’s suffering” and “their’s”…

It is something I’ve reflected on, from the US response to the September 11th attacks, to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban, to the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc, to the treatment of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation, to the treatment of the Dalits in India, to the way we glorify ‘machismo’ in our societies, to South Africa’s scourge of violence and sexual violence against women, and the vitriol hurled at those whose sexual preferences may not be like ‘ours’, to the pogroms against minorities in Gujarat, to the treatment of the Baha’i in Iran, to the UK and the US’s actions in parts of the world so many to mention.

President Nelson Mandela said that “…No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite…”

President Mandela’s words are simple, yet profoundly meaningful.

“us” and “them”,

“our people” and “those people”,

“my country right or wrong”,

“our religion” and “their beliefs”,

etc. etc. etc. etc.

It starts at home.

At the dinner table.

It starts with ‘us’.

Saturday Night in Jo’burg…

night falls,
the chill descends,

midnight slips in,

hushed leaves rustle on the still trees,

eyes blinded by the glare of the day,

now open wide,

ablaze with life,

seeing,
at last seeing,

hope’s furnace,

warm and filled with promise,

seeing,
at long last seeing,

the shadows of fear,

finally fleeing…

Malala…

1.

They tried to kill her,
pumping bullets to silence this young girl.

They failed,
their bigotry could not hush her.

She almost died,
her head splintered by the hot lead of hate.

She healed,
agonisingly slow as her little body fought for life.

2.

She is alive,
unsilent and undeterred.

She lives,
a sixteen year old symbol of the thirst for education.

She continues,
her message simple, potent,

a challenge to the world,

to ensure the rights of all children,
all over the world,
to an education,

to be free from the shackles of poverty,

a freedom from fear, bigotry, misogyny, racism,

her challenge to us all,

is simple, yet revolutionary:

“…one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world…”

My response to a facebook friend’s question:

Malala, Heroine or US puppet?

Okay, so who is Malala Yousafzai?

Malala was 14 years old when the Taliban, and yes one can argue about the ‘many’ Taliban outfits that operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but anyway, Malala was shot in the head by extremist Muslims whose world-view is confined to the scriptures that these ‘Talebs’ or ‘students’ have been indoctrinated in, which is a narrow, sectarian, misogynistic, racist, intolerant, bigoted way, at countless ‘madressahs’ or religious schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Malala was targeted by the extremists, the Taliban, because Malala advocated the rights of girls and women in her country to an education.

Simple. It’s not very complicated, and yes I do appreciate the geo-political significance that both Afghanistan and Pakistan has for the ‘west’ as well as the realpolitik that has caused that part of the world to be virtually ensnared in conflict for years and years, so I am not being naive when I say that the failed attempt on Malala’s life can be seen, very simply, as the Taliban, who whether people like it or not, are ‘terrorists’ in the true sense of the word as in they have embarked on a campaign to sow ‘terror’, ‘fear’ in the minds of ALL who would oppose their narrow, sectarian, fanatical worldview, so yes the Taliban, whoever they are and however many splinters groups they have are terrorists.

The shooting of Malala, a 14 year old girl, because she simply spoke out and up against the narrow, misogynistic, racist worldview of the people i.e. the extremists, the Taliban, call them what you will, who are firmly rooted in a completely distorted and morally corrupt interpretation of what their religion’s tenets teach.

I don’t know how Malala’s speech at the UN can be seen as her becoming a ‘US puppet’.

It baffles me, and I am reminded of something that Professor Norman Finkelstein wrote about in ‘The Holocaust Industry’, and that is the manner in which ‘we’ perceive the ‘others’ and their crimes as being heinous and to be (and rightly so) condemned, yet, we are conspicuously silent when ‘our’ people, whoever ‘our’ people are, carry out heinous crimes.

It doesn’t only baffle me, but it angers me, when a 14 year old girl in Pakistan is shot in the head and almost killed by Muslim religious extremists and why?

Because she advocates the right of women to an education. Simple, huh?

I am further baffled by the expectation placed on a 16 year old girl, who was shot in the head when she was 14 and who has spent the past couple of years receiving in medical treatment for an attack that almost killed her and her fellow pupils because the Taleb (which simply means ‘student’ – ironic, isnt it) who shot her wanted to silence her, and thus by sowing terror in the minds of fellow pupils and parents, wanted to make a statement that women and girls should not DARE challenge their narrow worldview.

And if someone dares to disobey these self-appointed men, always MEN, always ALWAYS MEN, who proclaim to be the sole spokesMEN of Islamic religious beliefs and practices, then that someone must be silenced, and in Malala’s case, to silence a 14 year old girl with a bullet in her head.

Malala a US puppet because she didn’t mention drone strikes, or US foreign policy, or US and UK invasions and atrocities in the Middle-East and elsewhere?

Malala Yousafzai is a 16 year old who narrowly escaped death when a fanatical MAN shot her in the head to silence a GIRL, a WOMAN who dared to defy the MEN who took it upon themselves and appointed themselves, again ALL MEN, as the only carriers of the ‘truth’.

And so, when on her 16th birthday, Malala gives a speech at the UN, in which she mentions and elaborates on the mindset of the people who would have her silenced, and because Malala did not mention the drone strikes, so that makes Malala a US puppet?

Lets be real here, and lets be frank as well, and let us shed this veneer of indignation that we hurl around when it suits us, and the causes close to our hearts, while matter-of-factly dismissing a 16 year old girl, who against all odds fought for, and continues to fight for the rights of women and girls to an education in Pakistan.

So Malala Yousafzai did not mention drone strikes, and Malala Yousafzai did not tackle, in depth, the atrocities carried out by the US invasion of Iraq and many other things that rational, humane people the world over are united in opposition to, namely the dastardly actions of state power and state terrorism by the US, Israel, and their allies.

Does this mean Malala Yousafzai is a “US Puppet”?

The question itself implies many things, and again I am not being naive when we see Malala being hailed by the US and others.

WE should hail Malala.

Why haven’t we, with our indignation at all things the ‘west’ does, why haven’t WE welcomed Malala’s stand against misogyny and patriarchal religiously accented bigotry?

Why do we now question Malala, again a 16 year old girl shot in the head for simply wanting to be educated?

Where was this indignation when Malala was shot by the Taliban?

Why did ‘we’ not airlift Malala for medical treatment in ‘our’ countries?

But since Malala was treated medically in the UK, and because now Malala has given a speech at the UN, and has become the face of every woman and girl’s right to an education, and because she is (hardly surprisingly) being hailed as a survivor of a heinous terrorist attack on a defenceless 14 year old girl, WE now choose to pick apart Malala’s speech, and almost gleefully attempt to poke holes in this 16 year old’s words, and all because Malala Yousafzai failed to mention drone strikes, etc.

Of course the drone strikes are horrendous and tantamount to murder and ‘state terror’ against sovereign countries.

Of course the US and the west’s vested interests and their pursuance of those interests has led to a protracted ‘war on terror’ and the black hole that is Guantanamo Bay.

Hell, why didn’t Malala mention:

Drone strikes.
Israeli Apartheid.
Guantanamo Bay.
The Rohingya.

And while we’re on what Malala didn’t say, why don’t ‘we’ stand up and make our voices heard when:

The Baha’i community in Islamic Iran is being persecuted.

The Hindu and Shiite and Sikh and Christian communities in Pakistan are one sentence away from being sentenced to death for supposedly ‘insulting’ Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

Women aren’t ‘allowed’ to drive a car in Saudi Arabia.

Women are murdered in cold blood in the name of ‘family honour’.

Girls are terrorised by MEN, always, always MEN, when they dare to attend school.

One could go on, but it would detract from Malala Yousafzai’s message, a powerful message to the world, including the US and the UK and Pakistan, India, South Africa etc that GIRLS and WOMEN are standing up to demand from their own governments, the RIGHT to an education.

That the basic human rights and dignity of ALL women, the world over are upheld by each and every government and country and society.

Malala’s speech at the UN focused on education.

The right to be taught.

The right to an education.

Malala Yousafzai is 16 years old and spoke at the UN and if Malala’s speech inspires even a fraction of those listening to her, it will be a victory over the forces of male-chauvinism, religious bigotry, wars of terror and wars against terror that are used to justify imperialism.

If a fraction of those who listened to Malala’s speech are inspired by her speech to actually do something, it will spawn a grassroots movement the world over to fight for the rights of women in countries and societies where women are still seen and treated as second-class citizens.

Malala Yousafzai’s message is simple:

every child deserves the right to an education.

Long live the indomitable and never-to-be silenced spirit of Malala Yousafzai!

Malala Zindabad!

Phambili Malala Phambili!

The struggles continue…

21st Century Lynching.

Gone are the white masks and sheets,

today the KKK struts in plain sight,

on nameless blood-soaked streets.

The past still lives,
breathes,

spewing hate,

stereotyping and profiling and generalising,

‘the Nigger deserved it’,

they still say,

as they continue to hate,

and to slay.

Justice is blind,
we are so often told,

but it’s deaf,
and mute,

and can be,
and is,
bought and sold,

just as they once,

traded,
bought,
sold,
flogged,
whipped,
lynched,

and raped human-beings,

and just as each of those human-beings of colour was called a slave,

today, in the 21st century,

a person of colour,

still better ‘know’ his or her ‘place’,

or face the racist murderers’ hate,

and be shot down,
and be clubbed
and be beaten,

to an early, shallow grave

R.I.P Reason.

Here lies Reason,

spat at by dogma,
assaulted by belief,
mutilated by vested interests:

‘my religion’

‘my tradition’

‘my culture’

‘my politics’

‘my country right or wrong’

R.I.P Reason.

The Long Walk – Madiba at 95

Songs have been sung,

poems have been penned,

prayers are being prayed,

Madiba turns 95 years of age today,

this 18th day of July in twenty-thirteen.

Thank you, Madiba!

Kea leboga,

Ngiyabonga,

Inkomu,

Ndo livhuwa,

Siyabonga,

Rea leboga,

Dankie,

Dhanyavaad,

Shukriya,

MercÍ beaucoup,

Muchos gracias,

Shukran,

Xie-xie,

Thank you, Madiba,
for being the Madiba we love,
respect,
trust,
admire,

you live, Madiba!

You shall always live,

within each of us,

and we shall not,

we will not,

we cannot honour you,

unless we imbibe your revolutionary spirit and live and treat our fellow humans with the dignity and respect that you dedicated your entire life for.

You shall live, Madiba!

through our actions,

we shall fight for justice for all,

we shall struggle to rid this world of poverty,

and of hunger,
and of greed,
and of war,
and of intolerance,
and of prejudice,

so that we may truly honour you, Madiba!

Viva Nelson Mandela Viva!

Amandla!

Madiba – The Light Shines…

a beacon for revolutionary and tangible change,

a torch dispelling the narrowness of prejudice…

The light shines,

a permanent flame in the quest for universal human dignity,

an eternal sentinel against the comforts of embraced apathy…

The light shines, brightly, today,

in a hospital ward in South Africa.

The light shall shine,

in your heart and mine.

The light shall shine,
today,

tomorrow,
and,
for all time…

The Fading Flower…

Petals wither,

falling to the earth,
hither and thither.

Flowers fade,

losing their fragrance,
in the damp shade…

…Earth receives,

it’s fallen flowers,
to nourish tender leaves.

Night & Day…

Night descends,
as it must,

shrouded in darkness,

silence piercing through,

with dawn a distant mirage…

…Morning emerges,
as it must,

banishing the bleakness,

with birdsong in orchestral harmony,

heralding a new dawn…

Bridging the Divide…

my meandering thoughts,

cascade between the walls,

that separate us…

chipping away slowly,

at the barriers of race,

creed,
caste,

that alienate us from them…

muslim & hindu,
jewish & christian,
atheist & believer…

walls built high,
fenced-in,
barb-wired,

erected on shaky ground,
cemented with prejudice,

whitewashed with bigotry,
coloured by learned intolerance,

passed on,
generation after generation,

the sins of the fathers,
visited on us all,

‘they’re born violent, the fucking _____’

‘you can never trust a _____’,

‘they are corrupting ‘our’ women, the circumcised _____’,

‘they’ve got violence in the bloody _____ blood’,

‘they are idol-worshippers, the dirty _____’,

‘you can never trust a goddamn _____’,

[ FILL IN THE BLANKS WHERE APPLICABLE ]

Talkin’ Detroit Motown Blues…

In old Detroit today,

The Man says the money has slipped away,

where to, nobody knows they know,

cos’ who cares about the poor,

when tears from their eyes flow…

oh and they tell us that ‘race’ has nothing to do with this shit,

but speak to the people and they’ll tell you that it just doesn’t fit,

when so many fled to the ‘Burbs,
leaving the city behind,

there was nothing, nothing, nothing left at all,

even hope was hard to find.

… so I’m talkin’ Detroit blues,

you’ll never know how it feels,

till you walk in torn, worn-out everyman-woman’s shoes,

cos’ I’m talkin’ Detroit Motown Blues…

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