Tag Archive: dignity


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

Heritage Day ( 2014)

Heritage Day (2014)

1.

Reclaiming loose shards of hope,

gathering up slivers of a splintered rainbow,

today we reflect,

today we pause,

today we wrestle our collective plundered consciousness,

today is ours!

2.

Tomorrow,

the struggles continue …

Amandla!

afzaljhb@gmail.com

Hope & Renewal …

Hope & Renewal …

1.

Hidden beneath life’s undergrowth,

a flower blooms,

amidst  thorns,

a whiff of beauty wafts over desolate spaces,

deep in the thicket of my heart,

where wounds are raw,

and the world is merely a blur of worn-down faces.

2.

The solitary flower strains towards the light,

in the dim bleakness of unnamed woes,

it’s fragility,

innocence distilled,

pristine,

simple,

natural,
healing,
renewing,

reaching between the open wounds,

of this splintered heart,

caressing my soul,

with a faint murmur of promise.

3.

Hidden beneath life’s undergrowth,

life stirs,

whistling melodies,
healing my shattered heart,

offering comfort,
solace,

peace,

a wounded peace,
while gathering the pieces,

an elusive, wily peace,

yet tangible,

alive!

breathing!

Breathing life back,

as pain flees,

and as,

numbness ceases…

afzaljhb@gmail.com

The African Rains …

The African Rains …

Soaking,
the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.

Drenching,
the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

Absorbing,
the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

And,
if you listen,

if you strain to hear,
while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.

If you listen,

the whispers of the ancestors,

speak to us all,
lending us warmth,
urging us to stand,
even though we may
stumble,

even though we may fall.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

Rains over Jo’Burg…

The parched African earth soaks up the liquid offering from the heavens,

birds sing,

ululating,

a chorus of relieved catharsis flows through my barren heart,

the steady rain continues,

elevating just another day,

transforming a dry insipid moment,

into a cacophony of jubilant life,

life!

life flowing,

streaming down the desolate avenues,

dripping like perennial teardrops,

down the cheeks of this crazy,

maddening city of gold,

moments of undistilled supreme mirth,

heralds the arrival of a new season,

a triumphant rebirth,

jubilant,
relieved,
ecstatic,

as the Gods of Africa,

and the spirits of the Ancestors,

smile down,

on us,

we of flesh,

and of blood,

and of muscle,

and of bone,

soaking hardened hearts,
dead as cold stone,

infusing new life,

amidst the fragrant scent of rain on dry soil,

while the bronze sun retreats,

seeking respite behind the dark, hopeful clouds of charcoal grey,

while the rains shower their blessings,

banishing the winter chills,

and graciously beckoning spring to stay.

The rains over Jo’Burg caress the leaves on the trees,

cleansing the accumulated baggage that only yesterday so listlessly hung,

over the dryness in my soul,

scorched by a merciless  winters’ sun,

Ah! But today,

today,

there are songs to be sung!

today,

I feel complete,

I am with the heavens,

no longer splintered,
into a thousand and three fragmented pieces,

at last I am whole,

at last,

I am one…

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Comrade and President Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917 – 1993)

Escaping the omnipresent shadows,

eluding the sweaty palms of the torturer,

running to shed this sorry skin of shame,

in hiding, here and there, with no one,

yet everyone to silently blame.

Leaving the lips once kissed behind,

to a refuge impossible to find,

not a word of sad welcome,

severing all ties that bind.

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,

from afar, on often a bleak and distant shore

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

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.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Comrade Chris Hani (1942 – 1993)

Mowed down
by hot lead,

your blood flowed
into our African soil.

Murdered you, yes, they did.

Silence you, they never will,

for your voice,

your spirit,

speaks to us still!

Walking in Gaza

Walking in Gaza …

Walking amidst the rubble,

a mother wails.

The bloodied rags that once clothed her six year old daughter reeks of caked blood,
stale urine,

death.

Walking amidst the rubble,

a father weeps.

The shelling reducing the home to bits of this and bits of that,
burnt flesh,
charred memories,

death.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the smouldering school,

the bombed – out hospital,

the blood running into the sewers,

now clogged with emptiness.

Walking in Gaza,

amidst the savage fallout,

in – between the mangled homes,

the shuttered bazaars,

Hope lives.

Hope breathes.

Hope soars.

Walking in Gaza,

the resistance to tyranny holds firm,

as it has,

as it always will,

as it always must!

Amandla Intifada!

The struggles continue…

Hamba Kahle, Commander-in-Chief!

1.

Travel well, Commander, your long march is over,

Rest now, Commissar, you are with our departed comrades-in-arms.

2.

We shall not rest, Nelson Mandela!

We dare not rest,

we cannot rest,

we will not rest,

the struggle continues,

now,

today!

3.

Hamba Kahle, Commander-in-Chief,

your long walk is over,

rest now, Commissar, you are with our departed comrades-in-arms,

you are with us,

now,

today!

Hamba Kahle, Commander-in-Chief!

Hamba Kahle, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela!

Amandla!

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

The People Shall Govern!

All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!

The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!

The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!

All Shall be Equal Before the Law!

All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!

There Shall be Work and Security!

The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!

There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!

There Shall be Peace and Friendship!

Viva the revolutionary spirit of Nelson Mandela!

Madiba (1918 – 2013)

Madiba.

( 1918 – 2013 )

Madiba, you are resting now.

Madiba, you have joined the ancestors.

Madiba, you are with your comrades.

Madiba, you are with us.

Madiba, you are within us.

Madiba, you live!

Madiba lives!

He lives!

He lives!

He lives…

For Comrade Vuyisile Mini
(Born in 1920 – Executed in 1964)

Your voice rang out, comrade Mini,
as you walked to the gallows.

You sang, comrade Mini,
you sang the songs of defiance and of freedom!

You were born in a country, rife with racial prejudice,
a second-class citizen, in the land of your ancestors,

and you grew into a gallant fighter,
a Trade Unionist,
leader,
singer,
a member of The Spear of the Nation Umkhonto we-Sizwe,
a poet, a father, a husband, a comrade-in-arms!

A true South African patriot,
you stood tall,

singing as you walked to the gallows,

singing songs of defiance and freedom and struggle.

Today we remember you, comrade Vuyisile Mini,
and we honour your sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice.

And though the Apartheid regime may have cut your song short,

you live today!

You live in the voices of the children,

voices that sing in Khayelitsha,
in Gugulethu, Soweto, KwaMashu, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville,
Diepsloot.

You live in the rivers and in the streams,
from Limpopo to Mpumalanga to KwaZulu-Natal.

you live in the rich soil of your beloved South Africa.

You live in our mornings, our bright African mornings,
and,
your spirit rolls over the plains and peaks and valleys,
of this land that is still healing,

you live, comrade Vuyisile Mini!

You live.

Amanda!

The Struggles Continue…

_______________

The following account is taken from the South African History Online website (http://www.sahistory.org.za) :

Ben Turok, a previous co-accused of Mini’s in the 1956 Treason Trial, was serving a three-year term in Pretoria prison for MK activities at the time of Mini’s execution. He recalled the last moments of Mini’s (44), Khayinga’s (38) and Mkaba’s (35) lives in Sechaba, the official ANC journal:

“The last evening was devastatingly sad as the heroic occupants of the death cells communicated to the prison in gentle melancholy song that their end was near… It was late at night when the singing ceased, and the prison fell into uneasy silence. I was already awake when the singing began again in the early morning. Once again the excruciatingly beautiful music floated through the barred windows, echoing round the brick exercise yard, losing itself in the vast prison yards.

And then, unexpectedly, the voice of Vuyisile Mini came roaring down the hushed passages. Evidently standing on a stool, with his face reaching up to a barred vent in his cell, his unmistakable bass voice was enunciating his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving. In a voice charged with emotion but stubbornly defiant he spoke of the struggle waged by the African National Congress and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. And then it was Khayinga`s turn, followed by Mkaba, as they too defied all prison rules to shout out their valedictions. Soon after, I heard the door of their cell being opened. Murmuring voices reached my straining ears, and then the three martyrs broke into a final poignant melody which seemed to fill the whole prison with sound and then gradually faded away into the distant depths of the condemned section.”

Mini’s unmistakable bass voice, ringing out loud and clear, sent his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving. Charged with emotion, but stubbornly defiant, he spoke of the struggle and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. After his 1964 execution, Mini was secretly buried in a pauper’s grave at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria.

Mini is remembered not only for how many unions and workers he organised but, as Luckhardt & Wall put it, “more importantly for the spirit and dedication they brought to the struggle.” To honour his stand, the ANC Mission Office in Tanzania opened a Furniture factory that was known as the Vuyisile Mini Factory (VMF). In addition many of the songs sung by the freedom fighters of today are Mini’s compositions. The bodies of Mini, Khayinga and Mkaba were exhumed in 1998 at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria and he was given a heroes funeral in Port Elizabeth.

– from the South African History Online website (http://www.sahistory.org.za) :

Who am I?

Who am I?

Seeking absolution, I wander the alleyways of times gone by,

awash with wasted regrets, I crawl into the yawning crevasse,

clutching at straws as merciless time takes to the sky.

Drenched in the reeking stench of wrongs I cannot undo,

I scurry blindly through the maze,

seeking pain to convince myself that today’s reality is true.

Torn to shreds, my tattered mind bobs, weaves and swerves,

my fingers clawing at the jangled knots of my frayed nerves.

When does the moulting of skin cease,

crumpling dreams floating away with each passing breeze.

Shattered hearts lie mortally wounded, unable to mend,

washed-up and washed-out, cast into a palace of indifference,

no enemies to be found here, swallowed up by pity, my perennially faithfull friend.

Who am I,

this shuffling carcass of flesh and bone,

enclosed in a fortress,

a prisoner by choice,

behind my impregnable walls of stone.

Who I am,

matters little as I count the hours of each frigid night,

as my salvation rests,

in the tomorrows yet to come,

while I refuse to surrender to the darkness,

for as long as I can see,

the faintest glimmer,

of hope’s flickering light

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