Tag Archive: democracy


the hydra …

​the hydra slinks, soaking up the hate filled air, its callous bombast thrashes against the ramparts of democracy, shearing off truth, leaving only putrid jingoism.


the hydra multiplies, slashing off its wretched head, only to spawn more rancid fascism, permeating through the breeze, infecting susceptible minds, weaving and bobbing as it makes its way through the corridors of power.


this is now. 


the hydra today.

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farewell to Nelson Mandela

Today, as our thoughts and tears and love flow to our beloved President Nelson Mandela,

We, human-beings the world over,

say thank you, Madiba!

Thank you for your life, a life of principle,
a life of struggle,
of torture, of pain, of loss,

of a selflessness that you have embodied so completely.

In this often cold and callous world,

where we have been jaded by war, by intolerance, by racism, prejudice, and so so much economic and social injustice,

your living spirit shall live on!

your body, that has endured so so much,

your heart, your mind, your very self, which injustice and tyranny tried so hard to break,

shines on!

Your spirit shines and shall be the torch that we, your children the world over,
shall carry forward…

you may be struggling for life today,

but you have breathed life,

into the hearts of countless downtrodden people this world over.

I don’t know what to say,

my heart breaks today,

I want to cry, and I am crying now,

with a sense of loss and of sadness that I have felt when my mother passed away,

I cry for my loss, selfishly,

but I know you have walked the long walk to freedom,

the long and arduous walk from struggle and sacrifice to healer and peacemaker and statesman and father, yes,

father to us all…

I will miss you, My father,

I will miss your comforting presence,

I shall miss your smile,

and mostly I shall miss the gentle solace that you imbibed in us all,

your children the world over…

Live on, you shall, Madiba!

in the shacks of the Sowetos of the world, you shall live on in that eternal quest for economic freedom,

in the eyes of the pained and tortured,

you shall live on!

in the whispered prayers,

the silent thoughts,

of the dispossessed of this world who still continue to be left behind in this cruel world,

you shall live on!

Thank you, Nelson Mandela, as you make your way to join the ancestors,

Hamba Kahle Comrade President Nelson Rolihlahla “Madiba” Mandela!

Travel well, and go peacefully … … …

reactive indifference … …

grab my super-sized meal, tossing some coins in a jar for the lesser ones,

the lesser ones who are either too lazy or lacking drive and entrepreneurial gumption,

smaller government?

a government that has abrogated its social compact with its citizenry:

social security for the jobless,
homes for the homeless,
dignified and professional medical care for the ill and elderly,

is that too much to ask for, after the billions spent on TV ads and mock debates,

but be warned:

trump may be around this fall.

and oh yes, i most definitely agree –

God help us all!

May the 10th, 1994

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President Nelson Mandela's Inauguration 1994

Madiba lives …

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Madiba stamp

Remember Us

Remember Us

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“Remember Us” at the historic Lileasleaf Farm Museum in Rivonia, Johannesburg. Please visit:
http://www.liliesleaf.co.za/

(Dedicated to the countless South Africans who gave their lives for freedom and democracy)

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell,

Who bled,

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell so that countless others may stand,

We who bore the brunt of the oppressor’s hand.

Remember us when you pass this way,

Leave a flower or two as you pass along,

Sing! Sing for us a joyous & spirited song.

Remember us when you pass this way,

We who fell,

Who bled,

Remember us when you pass this way.

Remember us in your tomorrows,

As you remember us today

Amandla! The Struggle Continues…

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memories of Madiba …

no more photographs, please!

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( Sweden 1990 )

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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With apologies to W.H. Auden

(for W.H. Auden)

tomorrow for the grueling work to begin, the rebuilding of trust, the sweat and the toil

tomorrow for reflection, the search for a new beginning, the hard tasks that lie in wait

tomorrow for the farmers to till the land, for the teachers to share free knowledge to all

tomorrow for the effort, to strive to build a new nation, to shake off the weight and the burdens of the past

tomorrow for all of that…

but today

today, the gleeful, joyous, teary-eyed celebration of freedom…

Who Killed the Marikana Miners?*

who killed the miners at Marikana?

definitely not the executive

nor the executives
far removed from the grime
and the slime

Who killed the miners at Marikana?

not the Prez
and not even the Press for a change

strange

so who killed the miners at Marikana?

the unions perhaps
or the errant miner
led astray

in that obscene demand for better pay

who killed the miners at Marikana?

not armed cops,
firing bullets of lead into the back of the head

execution-style it’s been said

who killed the miners at Marikana?

it seems no one can be found

as bodies decompose deep under gold dust ground

while families grieve

there
ain’t no one around to take the fall

so
who killed the Marikana Miners?

no one

no one at all

* inspired by the protest song “Who Killed Davey Moore”, a topical song written in 1963 by American folk singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.

June 16th 2015
South Africa

1.

the blood of the valiant flowed,

absorbed by our famished soil,

our battered pained earth,

moistened by beads of collective sweat,

the endless toil,

where the valiant rest.

2.

or do they?

do the valiant rest
beneath our African skies?

do the valiant rest?

no.

they do not rest.

they recoil.

this is not what they fought for.

we’ve betrayed them.

we’ve betrayed the core …

For Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie…

It was a long time ago
when you put your words into song.

‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.

You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth.

Of solidarity.

Of immediate calls for peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.

You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.

You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.

And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,

you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,

this land that is my land and your land too.

For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

And when you sang of overcoming one day,

the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way,

they branded you a commie,
a pinko,
a nigger and a Jew-lover.

An enemy of the state.

While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.

‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well
but they were all deaf,

for they could not hear the tolling of the bell,

‘the bell of freedom,
the hammer of justice,
the song of love between your brothers and your sisters’.

And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.

And then came the marches.

You were there too.

Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.

And you faced their ugly spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs and sticks and knives,
but you always knew,

that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.

However long it may take, you would never give up.

You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,

victoriously into their jail.

Then they shot him down,

they shot Dr. King dead,

as they burnt and lynched many, many more.

Yet you stood firm,

you never wavered,

your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truth’s core.

And so it came to pass,

that Woody went on his way.

To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.

And Huddie too,

said his last goodbye.

And you were then one,

and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.

But you saw that the people were with you.

As they had been, all along.

So you fiddled that old banjo,

dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.

Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,

across this earth,
turning,
slowly,

putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.

Today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,

for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,

I do so in gratitude,

for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate,

and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,

but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,

there always will be,

as there always must be,

fresh flowers,

that will be ablaze somewhere,

driving away the apathy and reminding us all,

that this world has for all of us,

plenty of room

The Markets Are Down 2% …

Banish the hubris,

Toss away the choice words,

Spoken by rotten, broken tongues.

Silence the chorus of appalled shock.

Shred the sermons,

Burn down the gory edifices:

The churches, mosques, temples,

And the muted Gods they mock.

Drain the sewage.

Flush away the insidious odour,

Seeping up from malls, homes, carnivals.

Put it in a closet and weld the key in the lock.

Shut it all off.

Turn out the lights.

Pull the damned plug …

… but hold on to that blue-chip stock

I Want to Walk with You …

I want to walk with you with our heads held high,

Never cowering,
never with heads bowed,

With our feet on this blessed soil,

and our dreams reaching for the sky.

Dreams of simple joys and of peace and of mirth,

For all our fellow travelers on this delightful earth.

Dreams not of wealth or of positions of high standing or of mighty power,

Simple dreams of a walk in the aftermath of a Johannesburg evening rain-shower.

Dreams of bread and water and dignity and shelter and clothes for all,

Dreams where all fellow travelers may together walk this earth proud and tall.

I want to walk with you, my fellow traveler,

with our heads held high,

Never pandering to power, never silent in the face of its abuse,

Always firm in our convictions,

that we can all make peace if we only try.

If we try to stop and think and sometimes not to look the other way,

If we practice what our different creeds really teach,

we will surely see that day,

When we all,
fellow travelers,

may walk with our heads held high,

Never cowering,

never with our heads bowed,

With our feet on this blessed soil,

and our collective dreams reaching for the sky.

Call me silly, call me naive, call me hopeless, and if you must, call me weak,

But is this not the common good,

that our different creeds and cultures all seek?

uBuntu …

uBuntu …

We are here today,

and today we pause to remember those who passed before us.

We walk along many paths,

crisscrossing myriad strands that bind us as one,

strands of conscience,

painfully forged by the ancestors.

We imbibe the spirit of uBuntu,

giving thanks to those who shed blood and sweat and tears,

selflessly guiding us ever onwards,

onwards, yes,

yet ever conscious,

that we are all,

all of us,

hewn from the winds,

forged in the depths,

our jagged edges far, far more radiant,

than dead flawless diamonds.

We are here today,

and we stand as one,

together braving the thunder rolling across the plains,

soaking in the rejuvenating blessings,

bathing us in the rains,

the heartbeat of Africa,

throbbing within us all,

whispering,

guiding,

comforting us,

that,

whenever we fall,

we need only stretch out our hands,

to be lifted up again,

helped back on our feet,

to stand once again,

together,

always, always together,

tall.

The spirit of uBuntu,

flows through our collective veins,

urging us to see,

to hear,

to share the light of peace and of unity,

for we are all,

all of us,

sculpted from one whole,

one mould,

far, far more priceless,

than dead nuggets of gold.

“I am because we are”.

Ngiyabonga, Nkosiyama …

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

The Battle for Kobane…

The Battle for Kobane…

The black flag of ISIS limply flutters on the eastern outskirts,

of Kobane.

The blood flows,
through narrow streets,

a ghost – town,

it’s people fleeing from the butchers’ knives,

refugees now,

in limbo,

while the parched desert sun sets on the battlefield.

If Kobane falls,

we shall all be on our knees,

naked and exposed,

to the void that is ISIS.

May the brave resistance soldier on,

under – equipped,

under – fed,

under constant siege,

yet they fight on,

against the backdrop of toothless air strikes,

as innocent blood flows,

and flows.

LONG LIVE THE RESISTANCE!

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

The Traveller and the Baobab Tree …

1.

A summer breeze,
drifts down lonesome pathways and byways and alleyways,

touching worlds,

torn apart.

The breeze engulfs,
a pristine sky of blue,

while,
scattering the murmuring clouds,

that blanket the blazing 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, all alone,

under a Baobab tree.

3.

The traveller walks alone,

at peace with the fragrant soil,

collecting memories of smiles embraced along the way.

4.

Finally, the wandering soul,

seeks rest,

finding peace at last,

yet …

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

afzaljhb@gmail.com

A Child of War …

a child of war…

 

as she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and hopped to school

all of nine and a half years old

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was

her father’s pride

 

as she lies bleeding

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

as her blood soaks it the colour of the cherries her mummy buys

 

as she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums

 

as she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly and then she is dead

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

 

 

as she lies bleeding

for even in death she bleeds some more

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals the light from her bright little eyes

as she lies bleeding

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19

leningrad in ‘42

freetown in ‘98

soweto in ‘76

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

raqqa now

basra still

gaza too

 

as she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

 

as she lies bleeding..

afzaljhb@gmail.com

https://mobile.twitter.com/hashtag/notinmyname

afzaljhb@gmail.com

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