Tag Archive: colonialism


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1.

when rancid racism strikes,
in cocooned fungal minds, narrow, superficially deep,

an insidious venom begins to seep,

into the consciousness of the chattering ones as they sleep.

2.

beliefs held so true, so deep,
stripped of feeling,

empty, hollow, feigned, designed, branded compassion,

feeds conceit in chests swollen with righteous passion.

3.

the racism once firmly entrenched,

enveloping all, a comforting shawl,

needs little to fester, to mutate,

into doctrines of superiority, bigotry, hate.

4.

are we guilty of succumbing to this virulent plague?

sipping martinis, shovelling more, always more onto heaving plates,

falling, slipping into inebriated moments, without care,

as the stench of hate, prejudice, racism,

floats in the evening air.

                _______

Amandla!

The Struggles Continue … … …

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Comrade Chris Hani

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embroidered on tshirts,
emblazoned across charitable institutions,

emblematic of today,

where capital mows down our collective past,

rendering wethepeople impotent, flaccid, limp,

mere buyers & consumers,
expanding market-reach,

our giddiness palpable,
waistlines expanding like the goodyear blimp,

our struggles on sale,
republished, hardbound,
cashing in,
on display,
buy the book, read the tale,

acceptable, sterile,
aromatically stale,

the revolutionary rebranded,

silver-haired & grandfatherly,
the grandad we all wished we had,

canonising nonviolence,
trumpeting the eternal rebel,
with cigar and beret,

photoshopping our ancestors,
diluting their struggles,

repackaged & consumer-friendly,
end-user accessibility,

simple, plug & play,

hard-work, initiative,
entrepreneurial-spirit,

experts spluttering on,
about how to make-it and make it big today,

welcome to the new theme park, they say,

rugby + mandela,
or baartman by beyoncé,

& oh yes, bring your family too,

cos’ some of our best friends/clients/employees etc. are _______________

( fill in where appropriate ),

there’s room for all to eat and drink and in the shade lay,

sipping cappuccinos under automated palms that oh-so-cutely sway,

fleeing kaffirs, hotnots, gardenboys, maidgirls, coolies, bushies, coloureds, darkies,

escaping monkeys on beaches far, far away,

that’s right,

buy one & get two for freemium today,

under the benevolent gaze of Madiba & MLK,

Biko & Tambo & Sisulu,

Fidel & Hani & Ché.

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double-helixed uBuntu

double-helixed uBuntu.

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these interwoven veins,
dna,
double-helixed,

microscopic,
binding us, all of us,
together, as one,

species, one race,
human,

me & you

us,
all,

through
this common
shared
truth:

‘I am because you are’*

all of us
together
as one

me & you = uBuntu*

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* – uBuntu is an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses the “belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”

A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

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Pandit-Ji*

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

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bought. sold …

it feels fungal,

the itch of hate,
stab of resentment,

souls wounded,
walking along avenues inlaid with broken diamonds,

passing edifices of gold,

where anything,
anyone,

everyone,

neutered from human to being,

commodities,

bought. sold.

history …

misty tears fall on splintered parchment

history simmers

the shackles of centuries cast off

the chains of oppression shattered

embracing new horizons

dawning
&
trusting once again
in that unfinished dream

of less famished tomorrows

Empire

empire …

crackling embers of empire,

spew noxious toxicity,

lashing,
weatherbeaten faces,

scratching,
gnawing,
crunching marrow,

burrowing deep,

slaying,
praying,
selling,

wearing down,
laboriously,

chilling the furnace of principle,

doused by carbonated fizz,

rendering consciences inured,

consciousness cremated,

ash rising,

ascending,
exalted,

amidst hazy,
blurred,
just out-of-focus,

silhouettes of humanness,

shred,
minced,
chewed,

spat out,
cast aside,

stripped off the moulting skin of greed,

left out to bleed,

as vultures skulk,
& currencies’ sulk,

– markets open,

– the horde pounces,

scalping,
remnants of dignity,

as sweat pours off backs,
& as innocence roasts in shacks,

as the cacophony grows ever more shrill,

buy!

buy!

checking-in all humanity,
left to suffocate,

in a cashiers till,

as we writhe,
entwined,

savaged & ravaged,

by the diktat of Profit,

while,

innocence starves,
emaciated,
discarded,

flung into the cesspool of want,

trampled upon,
barbecued on Capitals spit,

while hollowed souls,
wracked by inert life,

seek respite,
from want,

hunger,

from ceaselesss,
merciless strife

The Obscenity of the Wealth Gap in South Africa …

hardly surprising,
yet vulgar all the same,

feudal lords,
profiteers of colonial privilege,

amassing ever more,

while mothers give birth in cramped hospital corridors,

a mere stones throw away,

from mansions of polythene ostentation.

And still,

the struggles continue,

bread,
water,
jobs,
shelter,
health,

dignity,

for all compatriots,

of our work-in-progress rainbow nation …

Gandhi-Ji …

1.

It was your beloved Jawaharlal* who uttered these words when you were gunned down by the agents of hate,

‘The light has gone out’, mourned Pandit – Ji*,

and indeed your life was snuffed out on that 30th day of a cold New Delhi January in 1948,

yet you live,

you live on,

a perennial thorn in the side of tyranny,

and the voice of the voiceless multitudes,

still scraping in garbage bins for a bite to eat.

2.

‘The world is big enough for everyone’s need, but it isn’t big enough for everyone’s greed’, you once said,

and Bapu*, your prophetic words ring true today,

in Soweto,

Diepsloot,

Chatsworth,

Gugulethu,

Alexandra,

and everywhere,

all the time.

3.

‘India gave us Mohandas, and we returned him to you as the Mahatma*’, said President Nelson Mandela,

Madiba was your son,
Martin Luther King Jr. as well,

and today your sons and daughters across this world,

look to you again,

in a world torn apart by sectarian strife,
bigotry, racism, religious intolerance, greed,

and Capitalism gone insane,

for as long as there are mouths that hunger to be fed,

for as long as there are naked bodies that need to be clothed,

for as long as your sons and daughters struggle for the very basics,

the 99%,

trodden-upon,
dignity stripped,
dreams tossed out into the sewers …

… we need your sanity,
we need your eternal flame to light our paths ahead,

we need you,

as the parched desert needs a shower of rain,

we need you!

and we need to,

remember that we are all human,

if we are to build a new world,

less cruel,

and more humane …

       _______________

* – Mahatma or ‘Great Soul’

* – October 2nd is the birth anniversary of MK Gandhi

* – The first Prime Minister of independent India was Jawaharlal Nehru,  also called Pandit-Ji,  and endearingly Chacha Nehru

* – Bapu means father and Gandhi-Ji was often referred to as Bapu or Bapu-Ji

afzaljhb@gmail.com

South Africa: Freedom Day April 27 2013

1.

On the 27th day of April in Nineteen Ninety-Four,

Freedom was won, at long last.

The battles were many, the foe brutal,

Apartheid tore our southern tip of the continent of Africa apart,

it’s notions of racial-superiority,

its religious fundamentalism,

its fascist tendencies,

its beastly nature,

ripped the flesh off the skin of our collective selves,

but resistance to tyranny has always been a basic human aspiration,

and so resistance flourished.

2.

Ordinary folk,

school-teachers and machinists,

nurses and poets,

labourers and engineers,

lawyers and students,

resisted!

We remember you today,

as a copper African sun shines bright this Saturday morning in April of Two-Thousand and Thirteen,

we honour you, who fought,

Comrades all –

Walter Sisulu,

Nelson Mandela,

Joe Slovo,

Ahmed Kathrada,

Bram Fischer,

Steve Biko,

Solomon Mahlangu,

Vuyisile Mini,

Denis Goldberg,

and many many more,

those we know and love,

and those whose bones have now settled in our rich African soil,

those who died,

those who were executed,

those who were shot,

those who were tortured,

those who were killed,

and the countless who are still tortured today by the swords of memory,

the emotional and psychological torture,

that still rains down on the valiant ones and their families.

Families!

Families fractured, broken and scattered throughout the world,

fragments of a sister’s laugh, a daughter’s smile,
bite as harshly into the soul as did Apartheid’s cruel lashes of violence.

So many died, too many died,

and I remember them,

Dulcie September – Assassinated in Paris

Steve Biko – Tortured and Murdered in South Africa

Solomon Mahlangu – Hanged by the Apartheid State

Ahmed Timol – Tortured and Murdered

Bram Fischer – Died in Prison

Hector Petersen – Shot in Soweto ’76

David Webster – Killed

and many many more,

their blood flowing into the soil of our ancestors,

our country, our South Africa,

for all South Africans,

Black and white and brown and all the shades of humanity’s mosaic.

3.

Now we reflect,

now we must dissect,

the fruits of freedom,

thus far,
much has been achieved,

yet,

the struggles continue,

for employment,

health-care for all,

shelter and housing for all,

and my compatriots have earned it,

they have stewed in the mines,

deep beneath the soil,

for shiny metals and glittering glass.

The revolution is a work-in-progress,

true liberation shall be economic liberation,

where each and every South African,

can walk the land of our ancestors,

truly free.

We SHALL overcome!

Amandla!

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

The Struggles Continue, Comrades…

Tomorrow is Ours

Tomorrow is Ours.

Suffocating beneath the weight of historical fear,
asphyxiated by the legacy of traumatised yesteryear,

the festering wounds of enslavement still remain,
juggling euphemisms in a crisp sound-bitten refrain,

spewing out neo-liberal economic charades,
doling out charity in strips of plastic band-aids,

but,

tomorrow shall be ours,

casting away subservient mind-sets that shackle,
no longer the weakened prey of the insatiable jackal,

tomorrow shall be ours,

we shall reclaim our plundered mindspaces,
we shall shed our chains, leaving behind the traces,

of past injustice, of the hurt and pain of our ancestors’ sorrows,

we are here, now, alive with hope,

we shall rightfully claim our own tomorrows…

1.

A summer breeze,
drifts down lonesome boulevards,

touching worlds,
torn apart.

The breeze engulfs,
a pristine sky of blue,

while,
scattering murmuring clouds,

that blanket the African heavens,

in swirls and immaculate shrouds.

2.

A passing shower,
of gentle misty rain,

settles,

on freshly scented-earth.

It soothes,

it caresses,

the exhausted thoughts,

of,

a weary traveller,

who sits,
alone,

under a Baobab tree.

3.

The traveller walks alone,

at peace with the fragrant soil,

collecting memories of smiles along the way.

4.

Finally, the wandering soul,

seeks rest,

finding peace at last,

yet knowing its price,

is to let go,

of,
each memory,
and every smile,

that once burned true,

but now,
awaits release,

from the ache of the lingering past.

A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit-Ji*

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

Civilization by the bullet,
the sting of the whip.

Descending upon us,
with fearsome piety.

Bringing The Book,
sweeping our collective pasts aside.

Scavenging for ore,
snouts in the trough,
the pillaging rarely ceased.

Gold. Women. Diamonds. People.

All commodities,
stripped and raped and sold and bought.

The wounds of colonialism,
left us battered and bruised and almost broken.

Almost.

But not quite.

For,

the tides began turning,
winds of indignant defiance began rolling,
up through the hinterland,
and down to the sea.

The rising began,
in pockets,
then in swathes of the plundered country.

The rising took shape,
grew,
and found its coherent voice.

They were chased,
chastened,
from our shores,
back to the northern lands that craved the sun.

And the gold. Women. Diamonds. Men.

This was centuries ago.

Yet,

the craving persists.

And,

they scavenge still,
never sated.

Till the rising shouts out,
once again,

Enough