Archive for April, 2015


a poem …

my weakened eyes crave the sight of you,

a fleeting glimpse perhaps,

while all the while,

my hungering mouth,

yearns for a,

taste.

these dreams come and go,

as times waltzes through,

uncertain tomorrows …

so I live with a deeply burning hope,

a hope for a time,

with less,

sorrows.

1.

the soul rejoiced
freedom had finally been attained.

the cost. great.

far far too great to imagine.

the bludgeoning of a people, century after century,

exacts an unquantifiable toll.

2.

the toll was extracted.

multitudes endured imprisonment,
detention,
torture,
daily harassment,
families shred to pieces,
exile,
and much much more,

and an inherently monstrous evil was conquered.

3.

today,

the foe is different.

far closer to home than we would like to admit,

and still,

the multitudes rise,

and still,

the powers-that-be have yet to tremble.

they will.

it shall be the peoples will.

we. you.
her. i.
him. them.

it shall be our collective will.

and.

our will shall overcome.

one day.

echoes stumble
tripping over slayed vows torn twisted cast aside as the scramble from flavour to flavour leaves but a bitter numb feeling as we scramble between sinkholes of the voided soul that now is mixed with the cosmic dust and satisfaction is oh yes most definitely sir/madam kinda guaranteed.

kinda.

when my words turn brittle,

when this life and love and trust and hope and music and cocktails and parties and movies and when all of that and all of this moment turns to sh*t

remember that you’re only human,

and thank the gods that be, or not,

that one size for all just dosn’t mothereffing fit …

sometimes unshackled dreams

spread across broken nights

clawing at mournful clouds

clinging on
knuckles scrhiaped

to that illusory state of lobotomy

dull numb
painless

ah yes painless

yet expecting it all

to
resemble a
human being

We forget …


We forget the newly independent Tanzania, Zambia, and other ‘Front line States’ in the struggle against Apartheid tyranny.

We forget the burdens they shouldered as they embodied the very essence of that very humane of philosophies – uBuntu – I am because we are.

We forget the Apartheid foe foment civil-wars in Mozambique by incubating Renamo as a counter-revolutionary force against Frelimo.

We forget Unita in Angola battling the MPLA.

We forget Koevoet in Namibia fighting SWAPO.

We forget The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

We forget The Wankie Campaign.

We forget …

We forget much.

The Death of Emmanuel Sithole

rivers of tears a-flowin’ down human cheeks falling like machetes

onto blood-drenched streets of brittle consciences

inured numbed dumbed bought co-opted

digested in the belly of the beast of belched whiskey and puffed cigars

rising like smoke from chimneys and those crematoria of not-so long ago

grinding down wearing thin corroding at the soul of what is supposed to make us human

while we barrel ever onwards towards that final resting place

where impaled humanity slinks away to cower apathetically

to regurgitate to ravenously scavenge in the bowls of the blind stitching

our eyes shut as the tears flow as blood down the street

where Emmanuel Sithole was killed

by me you them us.

all of us!

wrote this a while ago.

Sadly true today.

It ain’t Xenophobia? Really?

it’s not xenophobia,
the refrain is the same,

it’s the criminals to blame,

we still won’t be calling the attacks by their stinking name,

‘xenophobia’

yes,

that’s what it is,

but,

let us not be simplistic,

we have to face the ugliness of our collective shame,

because when mostly ‘foreigners’ get put to the flame,

how can we ignorance feign?

it’s xenophobia,
simple & plain,

with poverty & unemployment barrelling on a runaway train,

and it won’t just ‘go away’,

for as long as ignorant complicity continues to reign …

       _____________________

‘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 flung 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, Mozambique, Angola, 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!

The Struggles Continue!

image

My poem “Remember us when you pass this way” at the historic Lileasleaf Farm Museum in Rivonia, Johannesburg.

Please visit:
http://www.liliesleaf.co.za/

More about Lileasleaf Farm:

A PLACE OF LIBERATION
Tucked away in the leafy suburb of Rivonia, Johannesburg is Liliesleaf. Once the nerve centre of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, today Liliesleaf is one of South Africa’s foremost, award-winning heritage sites, where the journey to democracy in South Africa is honoured.

Liliesleaf has always been a place of dialogue. In the early 1960s, when the property was the headquarters for covert, underground activities and a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement, debates on political and military policy and strategy were commonplace. People from diverse backgrounds but with a common vision met here to discuss South Africa’s emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime. Today Liliesleaf is a repository for those conversations, and a place where the fruits of a free and equal South Africa are recounted and celebrated.

On 11 July 1963, a dramatic police raid took place at Liliesleaf. Concealed inside a laundry van, a number of security branch policemen made their way down a long, dusty driveway. Members of the MK high command were meeting to discuss a contested strategy to overthrow the government. The raid took them completely by surprise. In the search that followed, the police combed every square centimetre of the property, and collected masses of liberation struggle documents. The security police proclaimed that they had ‘hit the jackpot’.

For the apartheid government, the event was a coup. For the liberation movement, it was a crippling blow. Comrades Bernstein, Goldberg, Goldreich, Hepple, Kathrada, Mbeki, Mhlaba and Sisulu were detained. The farm labourers, who were oblivious of the true purpose of Liliesleaf, were also rounded up and taken into police custody. At this stage no one knew what would happen to them. Following the raid, they were joined by Nelson Mandela, who at the time of the raid was serving a five year prison sentence, as well as Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi, fellow comrades who had been arrested prior to the raid.

A dramatic series of events played out in the months after the raid: a gripping jailbreak, the arrest of an unsuspecting and innocent bystander, and much speculation about the identity of the source who had exposed Liliesleaf. Was it an ANC informer, a neighbour, or a foreign intelligence agency?

Denis Goldberg, social campaigner and former Rivonia Trialist. Goldberg was arrested at Liliesleaf in 1963. “This is the significance of Rivonia, that this is the place where the transition from petitioning, the early history of the ANC and the liberation movement, to mass action and the defiance of unjust laws campaign… we were talking about a transition to a new form of struggle… Rivonia, Liliesleaf Farm, is an icon of that struggle for freedom.”

Following the raid, the core leadership of the ANC and MK were charged with sabotage. The subsequent trial, known as the Rivonia Trial, would change the course of South African history. The apartheid state aimed to use the nine-month long trial as a platform to discredit the liberation movement and their resistance strategies, and to position the trialists as malicious terrorists intent on overthrowing the apartheid government by violent means. The prosecution duly asked for the death penalty. However, the trialists and their dedicated defence counsel, led by Bram Fischer, in effect used the opportunity to put the apartheid government on trial.

On 12 June 1964 Justice Quartus de Wet announced the verdict to a packed courtroom. The local press, international reporters and correspondents eagerly waited for the sentence to be handed down. When the penalty of life imprisonment was declared for the majority of the accused, South Africa’s struggle for democracy was catapulted onto the international stage.

Arthur Chaskalson, former President of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (1994-2001) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Africa (2001-2005). “We need to record our history,… to heed the lessons of the past, [least] we slip back into practices that contradict the ideals that underpinned the struggle for freedom and justice in our country.”

We invite you to visit Liliesleaf for a journey of enlightenment and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of the South African liberation struggle.

http://www.liliesleaf.co.za

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