Archive for February, 2021


Covid-19 and the Collective.

1.

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.

Yes.

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”.

Yes.

Water.

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.

Yes.

Us.

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

Yes.

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.

2.

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.

Dignity.
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?”.

Or,

“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
yawns,

bathing this
soft morning

with
birdsong,

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,

somehow.

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 )

1.

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.

2.

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

3.

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.

4.

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.

5.

The names of the martyrs bear witness:

Solomon Mahlangu.
Bhagat Singh.
Ahmed Timol.
Rajguru.
Vuyisile Mini.
Prakash Napier
Sukhdev.
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.

4.

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.

5.

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.

6.

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

Johannesburg Blues.

Walking in this city of diamonds,
gold deep beneath my feet,

sleeping under her rainy skies,
embracing my newspaper sheet.

I had a life long ago, a woman too,
now I’m just a huddle of rags,

while the women walk past
never reaching into their Gucci bags.

She left me, or I left myself,
on these bleak Jo’burg roads,

searching for that fix at these desolate crossroads.

Now I stand alone,
these empty streets my bed,

my blood soaking the earth
with drops of beaten red.

So I wish you well, friends,
I wish you gold dust amidst the fray,

all of you who walk on and away,

leaving me to beg or borrow,
to get through another Jo’burg day.




Struggle, Exile & Love” by Afzal Moolla published by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

https://www.kathradafoundation.org/






Foreword to my book by South African National Poet Laureate Comrade Mongane Wally Serote.




Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate.




Afzal Moolla-The Poet.


Afzal Moolla is a South African poet. He is a prolific poet. He grew up in a family, which, for the longest of time, was part and parcel of the liberation struggle in South Africa. That is to say, he grew up in a family of freedom fighters. 


You can imagine what he had to listen to at an early age. He absorbed it all.  His folks are elderly now. 


“…These were the early 1970s, and this story was told to me by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father, Moosa “Mosie” Moolla was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous Treason Trial of 1956…”


 He is young, living in a country which emerged from the depth of one of the most cruel political systems ever imagined by human beings. Nothing will allow Afzal to forget that, even as he may have been a toddler when that system was at its most vicious. 


And now at his adult life, some among us, seek to destroy a dream of the people. We must scrutinize what this poet says about those who do that: who are they if face to face with OR, Madiba, Che, Fidel… that they can ony be traitors.


As we read what Afzal says, we will also be engulfed by a progressive and humane attitude of human life. Afzal is of Indian origin, a South African, whose young mind was shaped by a people who had to strife with everything possible to be human.

The combination of poetry and prose in Afzal’s rendition, walks one in very rough terrain, not sparing one. He calls all this, his work:

                                                                 
STRUGGLE   EXILE    LOVE 


“…As we walked through the tombstones of the war soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained how apartheid was a scourge like Fascism and Nazism. He explained how the world had joined forces to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and why we too had to fight against apartheid….”


Even when the worst of things are explored in this work, the optimism of the spirit from the poet, is still the basis to seek hope; to search for a way out of pessimism. A rare skill indeed.  He can express anger, or despair, even cynicism, as also he seeks an anchor in the strength which resides in the hearts of human beings. And therefore Afzal, refuses to let go of the humaneness of human beings. 


He then braves the challenge by referencing the reality of the beings of struggle as the names of the freedom fighters spread throughout the pages which carry the weight of his writing.


There is too much pain in Afzals work, but equally there is love, there is joy and as said there is hope. Afzal is a skilled artisan of things made of words that is, of things which become the writing on the wall: a history, a culture tempered in the freedom struggle.


Searching.


Searching,

in the debris of the past,

scraps of casually discarded emotion.

Searching,

in hastily trashed yesterdays,

an inkling of moments flung away.

Searching,

in heaps of rubbished words,

that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

Searching,

in the layers of moulted skin

the wilting self that once was true.

Searching,

in the reflections between the ripples,

for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

Searching,

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,

an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.

Searching.


There is no letting go here. Life is pursued relentlessly, with the knowledge that life itself is a struggle for life and living; but also, knowing from having lived in struggle and among freedom fighters that there is no alternative to freedom. That want and that knowledge is insatiable; it is only satisfied by the reality of the manifestation of the spirit, meaning, everything which is liveable and defining being free.


(About Timol-a name we know because its reality teaches about the extremes of human cruelty, but also about utter commitment to that unbreakable particle of the human spirit which forever defines, and forever seeks freedom. )


today their lies have been consigned to the dirt.

They tried to murder an ideal,

the revolutionary spirit that burned bright in your heart,

they tried to silence you, not knowing your memory shall never depart.

They tried to kill you,

but they will never silence you,

for you live,

through the expanse of our land,

mingling in the rivers,

standing high upon our shared revolutionary hill,

they tried to silence you,

yet the hunger for justice will never be still,

they tried to silence you, but the memory of your martyrdom never will.


—————————————————–


March 21, 1960 – Sharpeville


They shot you in the back.

The oppressors lead tearing into muscled flesh. The flesh of Africa.

They massacred you in Sharpeville, in Soweto.

Today we remember you.

We salute you…


There is an isiZulu saying which rings of finality in its utterance, expression and thirst for freedom: si dela nina e ni lele (we envy you who have fallen). It is a battle cry. It is an expression of love and hope. It is a yearning which is insatiable which knows and aligns with the purpose of life that living life is a definition of Freedom. When Afzal names the freedom fighters, and as a series ofthese names emerge and spread throughout his poetry, it conjures that feelingandthat understanding.


That is what defines Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)


You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

They silenced you, yet your dream

resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.


———————————————


The Wind Carries his Name


They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,

the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,

high above the stubborn peaks,

over the blood-soaked streams,

the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,

to you and to me,

to them and to us.

They shot him down,

but his name resounds,

as it floats on the breeze.

And,

still they try to shoot him down,

to silence us all,

to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,

and the wind carries his name:

Che” 


Afzal is here, with that ‘…they…”  referring to the international oligarchy, that “ …small group of people,,,”, who with mighty force control everything at all cost, against billions of people, indeed against humanity, who now, as Afzal warns us are pushing all of humanity to the precipice of a final and last war, if there are no thousands upon thousands of “Che(s)” who must emerge to stop them.


The world, humanity is once more, as the saying goes, that “…history repeats itself…”  faced by a great possibility of an international arms race. The oligarchy’s objective: to amass all the resources of the earth for the “…small group of people…” They are relentless.


Afzal’s work of poetry traverses human feelings fearlessly.  He is the child of Freedom. He is the adult nurtured by a series of names of people who carried the blood that has been spilled, whether in the street, or in the veld, or in the houses, on the bed or finally ill of health and having to bid a frail life farewell-nevertheless, life which sought to express the will of millions who have been trampled upon by the international oligarchy, “…a small group of people…” who will stop at nothing to burn the world and is content, turning it into ashes.


Afzal keeps “…Searching…” because he was brought up and grew up in the struggle for freedom. He searches, seeking to find  that particle, which no one can break because it resides in spirit-it knows peace, it knows being secure,  it knows the meaning of freedom. It is profound in it being simple. 


To OR: Afzal says:


And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you!

You who fought at home and you who left to fight. 


To his mother, who is an experience and  voice of many women in South Africa, on Our Continent, and of the world; Victims of the powerful “…small group of people…” in the world, who tear it apart.


For our Mother, Zubeida Moolla (1934 – 2008)



She left us,

with the thoughts of her embrace to warm us,

in frigid mornings of tomorrows yet to come.

She left us,

with words of tender truths to shroud us,

in the coming evenings of slicing sleet.

She left us,

yet she stays within us,

in our waking dreams, our restful thoughts.

She stays within us,

and of us she shall remain an abiding part,

of the love,

the pain,

the tears,

and for that, we shall never be truly apart.


What all of these words say, which Afzal has crafted, which we dare not forget, is that we as South Africans, as Africans come from a poetic place, as do all of humanity who come from a “…Paean…” a ululation and praise of the relentless freedom fighters.




Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate. 

Johannesburg
January 2020



             ___________________________


My deepest gratitude to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation for this distinct honour they have bestowed upon me by choosing to publish my scribbles of poetry and of verse.

Immense thanks to Dr. Ismail Vadi for his tireless efforts editing and taking on this labour of love from inception to completion.

My heartfelt appreciation and thanks to family, comrades and friends and all here on WordPress for being so kind and warm to me always.

This book would not have been possible without my “WordPress family” and the though we may not “know” each other we are connected by the common thread of humanity that binds us.

Thank you all!

Respectfully,

Afzal Moolla
February 2021





H O P E  for a New Year 2021 …

May we be gentler, softer and generous in spirit,

may we raise our voices against injustice whenever and wherever we see it,

may we treasure the love of family and of friends,

may we not be suckered into the million and one new trends,

may we speak truth to power in this world that is veering to the ominous right,

may we hold on to our basic humane principles strong and tight,

may we embrace the other without being bombarded by politicians’ peddling fear,

may we realise that all races and religions and genders belong equally on this earth so dear,

may we struggle for mother earth and may we heed her cries,

may we realise that without her everything dies,

may we continue to stand and fight for gender-rights and equality and justice and peace and hope and dignity for all,

may we be more willing to lend a hand to those who slip and fall.

May we finally realise that all the blood that has been callously shed –

is of one colour,

for we all bleed red …

Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm.

Love is not swallowing what society wishes to us feed, love is wanting each other and not the illusions of material greed.

Love is knowing that the skin will age and wrinkle, love is knowing that the celestial star of togetherness will never cease to twinkle.

Love is knowing there exist no pristine hearts or souls, for we are all far from commercialised perfection, love is acknowledging this truth always, in our moments of quiet reflection.

Love is truly and deeply loving each other, warts and all, love is kneeling down to lift each other up whenever we slip, whenever we fall.

Love is never thrusting ones beliefs unto each other, love is appreciating and embracing the differences between one another.

Love is not being constrained by race, religion, nationality, caste or tribe, love is knowing we all bleed red, and from a common fountain we all do lifes’ waters imbibe.

Love is honestly being content with what we have to share, love is never allowing the rat-race to us ensnare.

Love is not merely oaths taken, vows spoken, love is living and tending for each other when one of us feels lost and if one of us is torn, or broken.

Love is so much more than kisses and making love, though that is always oh-so good, love is nourishing each other with the truest emotions, the bounty of soul-food.

Love is having differences of opinion, of engaging in robust debate, love is not just agreeing with everything we say, love is not living in that sterile state.

Love is taking a stand, in this iniquitous world, love is speaking truth to power, love is never ever merely accepting it all, love is not us shielding ourselves so that in inured inaction we cower.

Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm.

🤗

The New Ballad of Bruce…

When I was Growin’ Up in that Jungleland, your love reached out into our Secret Garden, your love a simple Human Touch away, baby I’m on Fire, just a-Waiting for a Sunny Day, where chrome stars shine as we took a Leap of Faith, our Hungry Hearts wound and bound, taut as the music so stark, clinging onto each other, us against this callous world, us Working on a Dream, cheek to cheek Dancing in the Dark, vowing to each other that we’d never give in, making our way out of this Lucky Town, lucky for the few but not for me and you, lucky for those who basked in the promising sun, knowing all along that you and I were always Born to Run, slipping down the Tunnel of Love, clouded by a Brilliant Disguise, even as we were Blinded by the Light, stumbling all across those desolate Streets of Philadelphia, reaping the Seeds we had sown, trying and trying and failing and failing to believe the lie that We take care of our Own, when all they threw at us was that we were charmed, we were so damned fortunate, to be Born in the USA, all and all they beat us down, taking old Johnny 99 away, dumping him in the gutters of Nebraska, leaving us with no Reason to Believe, while we clung to each Spirit in the Night, drowning in the heartless debt of fate as the crows crowed, all along the mirage of that Thunder Road, seeking not much at all, just a helping hand, while the TV kept lying to us, all about The Promised Land, and as they took a Wrecking Ball to our homes and friends, my Bobby Jean out on her lonesome trying, just trying to make amends, no longer sitting with me on my rusty fender, still believing the oath of No Surrender, for while The River flowed, our splintered dreams cast aside, in hushed conversation with The Ghost of Tom Joad, still clinging, hugging, lying that I was Tougher than the Rest, shoveling crap Working on the Highway, never buying the lie that we would thrive, when all we did was thank the stars that We are Alive,

but deep in my heart, I knew I was Goin’ Down,

all the way back,

To that empty Darkness at Edge of Town…

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