Archive for November, 2014


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

peace | love | uBuntu

focus | blur | the void

anchored by guilt,

echoes of promise snuffed out in the frigid air,

guilt hurls its snarl my way,

remember this and remember that,

as tears fail to fall,

from dry eyes,
weakened by the fight,

the unending skirmishes,

trench-warfare,

bleeding,

gushing hope,

for a few more tidbits of light

peace | love | uBuntu

images hobble past blurry memories,

squinting,
straining to see,

the
tea leaves, swimming in the depths of the cauldron.

these eyes,
having seen far too much,

seek refuge in the dark,

dimming,
ticketty-tick-tock,

as the tea leaves fade,

now a fading mirage,

vanishing in the glaring cacophony of this new day

peace | love | uBuntu

untitled …

fattened tears drip
like rain

drizzling
eyes moist with pain

beyond today
after yesterday

scampering
as
dreams like rain

skip
hop

only to disappear

down destinys’ drain

peace | love | uBuntu

she smiled
                   at me

i smiled back
                       feeling at once
             alive
                     free

she smiled
                   as tears fell from her eyes

she smiled
                   forgiving
      centred
                    humane

           she still smiles,

             forgiving all my lies …

peace | love | uBuntu

for Dr. Carl Sagan
( 1934 – 1996 )

when you visited us each week,
                    stirring wonder in all,

billions of synapses fired,
         or according to my teachers at the time,
         misfired!

        

                           and yet you comforted us,
                          your reason,
             logic,
                       and,

                dedication to the facts and always,
         
                              always
            to the science,
               and to science,

mentored us.

… and so as you left us here on this pale blue dot,

                you still live in the starstuff,

the stuff of life,
                                     mingling with the infinite depths of the cosmos,
                     
                      and as you taught us,
                          that there are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of earth,

                               still your vision lives within us all,
                       a testament to your humanism,
                    your genius,
             your warmth and all that you left behind,

& that, that humanity of yours,

             shall live on in the imagination of this speck of starstuff,
                as it floats,
                on the vastness of the great cosmic ocean …

( dedicated to the memory of Dr. Carl Sagan )

              

peace | love | uBuntu

forty two years

                 slipped away
         somewhere.

               caught up,
ensnared,
                 trapped
bound &
               mute …

through pathways strewn with dreams,

yours.
         mine.

feelings littering the boulevards
                    we’ve walked,

emotions,
                 transplanted
                       lost,

in a maze of sentiment …

                … so just hold me close to you tonight,

                i don’t know where i’m going to be tomorrow,

the only thing i know is that with you,

       tomorrow can pile on the sorrow …

         … ’cause with your hand in mine,

                      we will walk together.

into our sunset.
      
                          yours

&

                 mine …

peace | love | uBuntu

dear life

dear life,

i break a little more each passing day,

i misplace too many scribbles along the way,

tell me, dear life, my faithful companion,

what have you got to say?

I mean it wasn’t really my call,

or was it,

but then again,

isn’t this whole shindig,

your gig after all?

        
                        on flimsy whims,
              under tepid prodding,

the heart bleeds,

                               its blood-like tears

          dripping,
         
           soaked up by the waiting earth

yawning
the sun stretches its embrace

wrapping me in warmth
& peace

the peaceful warmth felt
in gentle dreams

each time i see his face

on Xenophobia – a Rant

On Xenophobia…

‘Xenophobia’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

” noun:

intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries  “

The synonyms for xenophobia are:

chauvinism, racial intolerance, racism, dislike of foreigners, nationalism, prejudice.

     _____________

As a citizen of South Africa, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that our young country faces.

The iniquities of our tortured past, the legacy of Apartheid, socio-economic issues etc. are just a few of the many problems that South Africa is grappling with.

What is extremely disturbing for me is something that I have personally encountered, in conversations with friends, family, and fellow citizens from all walks of life.

That something is how rife ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment is within our various, and still divided communities.

I have heard the most atrocious, insensitive, hate-filled utterances regarding the ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’, and most chillingly ‘we will kill these foreigners’.

I am also aware that many intellectuals, think-tanks, NGO’s, and sociologists etc. have written and spoken volumes about how the failure of proper service delivery by the government and local municipalities, and the myriad other shortcomings that plague our country have played a part in the emergence of this abhorrent xenophobic sentiments that are being spouted almost as if one was talking about culling animals in the Kruger National Park.

We have already witnessed the scourge of xenophobia, and not long ago, when organised bands of people marked, attacked and killed ‘foreigners’ in a frenzy of blood-letting and looting.

This was in 2008.

And today, as the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela lies ill in a hospital bed in Pretoria, I hear similar disturbing and blood-curdling hate-speech directed against ‘the foreigners’.

What is going on?

Where and how have we, as a country, failed, or more worryingly, chose to ignore the signs of this cancer that has to be dealt with, and dealt with as a matter of national priority.

The synonyms for xenophobia include racism, racial intolerance, and prejudice.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere are xenophobes.

No one disputes that.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere talk in almost exactly the same terms when they spout their rhetoric, when they go on ‘Paki-bashing’ sprees in England, when they deface Synagogues and Mosques and Temples, or when they beat up and kill ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’.

What is particularly disturbing about the rise of xenophobia, especially in the South African context is the complicity of silence, and by extension, a shocking acceptance of these racist and murderously dangerous views, by ‘normal’ citizens.

We are Africans.

And above all, we are all human.

This may seem like an obvious and unnecessary fact to point out, but when certain friends, family members, and people one interacts with daily, spew such xenophobic drivel, it needs to be taken seriously.

Pogroms, xenophobic attacks, racism, intolerance, prejudice, casteism, religious bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, do not simply arise out of nothing.

There are societal, religious, traditional, cultural and other factors that do indeed create fertile ground for some of these noxious sentiments to germinate.

It is incumbent on us all, people, just people, to engage with people, however close they may be to us, and challenge and make our voices heard that we will not stand mutely by, as such hate-filled venom is chucked around nonchalantly.

We cannot be conspicuous by our silence and inaction when a large segment of our society, those who have chosen our country to be their home, often fleeing economic hardship, political and social violence, and numberless other factors that force, and this is important, people are forced into leaving their countries, often making hazardous and painful journeys in order to find safe-haven amongst fellow human-beings.

As South Africans, we know just how friendly countries welcomed us during the darkest days of Apartheid repression and tyranny.

Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and the other ‘front-line’ states paid dearly for offering South Africans fleeing Apartheid a place of refuge as well as a base of operations against the oppressive Apartheid system.

Apartheid agents and security forces attacked, fomented insurrections against the governments in the front-line states, and still South Africans of all races, creeds etc. found a welcome home in these comradely countries.

We should never forget this.

Ever.

Our government needs to be more vocal about its stance on xenophobia, and by doing so it will send a message that it will not stand by idly while people from other parts of the continent are constantly under the threat of being attacked.

That said, we as citizens have a voice, and it is morally incumbent on all of us to do our bit so that the scourge of xenophobia is excised from this land.

There is a simmering undercurrent of the possibility of attacks on foreigners as I type these words.

If this is not taken seriously and dealt with, sadly we may see scenes similar to those we witnessed in 2008.

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

escape | oblivion | sleep

seeking escape
oblivion

sleep
          where I cannot weep

where pain scurries off
melting into a night so deep

escape
oblivion

sleep

if she asks
                   do tell her

      it was having lost her

              that led me down the path

                           to finding myself

at last

when quivering lips meet

&

tongues

& whispers soothe each sigh

the ache of two vagabond souls yearning to share a few moments,

to share, to feel again,
memories and pain intermingled

seeking a peace so elusive to find …

‘it’s then
I must still my thundering heart, my love

&
close my eyes,

just hoping against reason,
that when I awake

you shall still be lying here beside me

and that you shall still
be mine

when soft hues meet

waltzing
quivering tongues
& whispers entwine

your hair across my chest

… so shhh my love, my life,
say barely a word

just lie here
& be mine

Pandit-Ji* – A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

1.

The moon cast an enveloping shadow over the teeming multitudes,

as they made their tryst with destiny**,

with you as the bearer of the light,

and at the stroke of the midnight hour,

you emerged an icon, from the long and desolate night.

Long years had passed,
since those humid evenings spent,
languishing in jail,

yet your mind remained unshackled,
putting words on paper in the dim candlelight,

as the gaudy glare of empire began to pale.

2.

Today,
you live,

within us,
though not amongst us,

and,

your discovery,
your glimpses,

smoulder within me,

your immortal words,
my compass.

I am now,
the soul of nations,
once suppressed,

that have,
found utterance.

I am now,
me.

I am now,
finally,

free.

* – ‘Pandit-Ji’ was the name that Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, was respectfully called.

** – excerpts from Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on 15th August 1947

in dreams of you

your kisses slip

falling

fluttering as petals do

washing over me
caressing away pain

as gentle as the jo’burg rain

a flower …

a solitary flower,
weathering the squalls,

the soft petals,
whisper,

a hymn to the wind,

reaching for freedom,

into the night sky

The Good Native

may I never bow,
kowtow,

do the jig that’s expected of me,

a wind-up toy,

the good native who knows just how to act, talk,

how to be

Apartheitude

Apartheitude …

Apartheitude – a personal belief presented as ‘fact’. Most often used to denigrate the ‘black’ government, in an attempt to justify racism.

painful it is to hear,

    from strangers, relatives,

    steve hofmeyr & company,

    friends, both near and dear,

    just how fucked-up this country is,

    cos´ you see, man,

    `these bloody blacks of `ours´ can´t rule´.

    `and it was so much better in the `old days´.

    note: old days = the Apartheid era.

    `oh ja, back then there was no crime´.

    note: back then = the Apartheid era.

    and no, they won´t say that `back then´ crime only affected the
`blacks´.

    no, they feign ignorance of the Group Areas Act and of the
Sowetos of our land.

    gugulethu, lenasia, khayelitsha, eldorado park, sebokeng, kwa-
mashu, alexandra township, botshabelo, azaadville, kagiso, riverlea,
mannenberg, roshnee, meadowlands, atteridgeville, chatsworth,
mamelodi, phoenix, newclare, rylands, tembisa,

    was it all a dream?

    or was it as I´ve so often heard it being justified “you see in
principle, there were `some bad things´ about Apartheid, but overall
the system was not an evil, monstrous, inhumane, tyrannical one”.

    no, of course not.

    “you guys won´t understand but things were different `when i was
your age´.

    note: when i was your age = the Apartheid era.

    of course, things were fucking different when you were my age, in
the old days, back then,

    because back then, in the old days, when you were my age …

    the lazy `kaffirs´ were merrily chilling in their sowetos,

    the drunken `hotnots´ were pissing it up in their mannenbergs,

    the shrewd `coolies´ were making money in their chatsworths,

    and the benevolent white-minority regime of the time was busy
seeing to all these niggling issues,

    and there were no electricity cuts for all.

    note: for all = for the privileged white-minority.

    joburg was so clean,

    there were none of these bloody _____________

    ( fill in where appropriate = zimbabweans, `these foreigners´,
pakis, somalis, mozambicans, `fucking foreigners´ etc ).

    so of course things were fucking different when you were my age.

    `ag not like today, né, man´.

    note: today = all things bad. namely:

    a `black government´.

    a `fucked-up constitution that gives criminals more rights than
`us´ normal citizens enjoy´.

    an `almost failed-state banana republic, but `i tell you, give
this country 5 more years and see what malema does to it, ja bru,
just you check and see´.

    and on,

    and fucking endlessly on,

    and on and on it goes,

    a desperate, well-meaning, heartfelt, reasonable, patriotic,
`only because I care´,

    meditation on the state of the nation.

    yes, oh most definitely yes,

    the virus mutates: Apartheid 2014-style.

    “Apartheitude”.

    with style,

    fuck no, not gangnam style, ag nee man

(special thanks to Alan Finlay for his invaluable advice)

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