Tag Archive: intolerance


( apologies but had to rewrite this piece )



the stench of xenophobia …  … …



1.


when rancid racism strikes,

in cocooned fungal minds, narrow, superficially deep,

an insidious venom begins to seep,

into our consciousness as we sleep.




2.



racist beliefs held so true, so deep,

stripped of feeling,

empty, hollow, feigned, designed, branded as compassion,

feeds the conceit in chests swollen and rotten with self-righteous passion.




3.



the racist xenophobia once firmly entrenched,

envelopes all, not unlike a comforting shawl,

needing more and more bluster to fester, and to mutate,

into doctrines of superiority, bigotry, and new fashioned  hate.



4.




are we guilty of succumbing to this virulent plague?

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

falling, slipping into inebriated stasis, without care,

as the stench of hate, prejudice, gay-bashing,

as the proliferation of anti hindu, muslim, christian, buddhist, and anti people of african and arab heritage and anti-indigenous and anti-semitic and misogynistic drivel and xenophobia,


continues to belch into the polluted air.

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disjointed rhyme …

​holding hands, we traversed the chasms of life,

hand in hand, through bleak times and strife,

holding each other in rain and in sunshine,

never letting go of your hand in mine.


we scoured the earth for a peaceful place,

where bigotry didn’t present its grotesque face,

and after all the years spent seeking,

we found nooks and crannies where racism lay reeking.


all our desires, all of our dreams,

in a gilded cage lies trapped it seems,

still we scan these lands for respite,

beyond the hate, despite the spite. 


how long will we have to walk these pathways,

seeking simple gentleness along life’s alleyways,


or perhaps there exists no such place,

across the earth,

for tolerance long ago did depart,

and yet we cannot be from each other apart,


for what we have found in each other,

the simple love of two souls merging as one whole part,


those are the truths that we have embraced in our heart …



​the immigrant at home



fatigued

pained


cast adrift

shunned aside


living

existing

on

islands of despair


deprivation

death


human beings

you and i



who just yesterday

or perhaps many lives ago

 

were

hounded

persecuted

jailed


cursed

spat on


rendered

alien at home


and

then


lost at sea


mere cattle

to be hauled


onto desolate cages


mere cargo

in the

economics of flesh



and

who

now


are

everywhere


cursed

spat on



and

told


to go home 

( for all humans beings living under the yoke of tyranny, occupation, oppression, injustice … and for those who continue to survive and to hope … and to the memory of those who are no longer with us )

International Womens Day

She Walks Alone …

she walks alone,
barefoot in the paddies of rice,

breaking her back for some precious grains.

she walks alone,

in jo’burg town, with a black eye,

smacked around by him the previous painful night.

she walks alone,

in the streets of neon hazed manila,

along the pristine hedges of rotten london,

on the crowded pavements of lonesome new delhi,

across the rolling plains of the vast bounteous pampas,

over the winding back-ways of the sloping and grimy favelas,

on the glittering pavements of rich and sweetly-scented jeddah,

through the blindingly false boulevards of that sad los angeles town.

she walks alone,

bearing the burden of mother and daughter
of cook and sweeper and wife and mistress and punching-bag,

she walks alone,

through your streets and mine,

standing up as she is beaten more down,

loving a little as the bruises on her face turn purple,

feeding the little ones with morsels of hastily cooked beans.

she walks alone,

in factories and in mills and in buses,

in schools and in brothels and in places in-between.

she walks alone,

staying alive on the alms of the ‘charitable’,

violated by those who from the pulpit preach.

she walks alone,

my sister and yours,

my mother and yours too,

my lover and your beloved as well.

she walks alone,

caged by society in its invisible prison,

a slave of norms and culture and religion and caste,

she walks alone,

but she is the conscience of me and you,

screaming at us silently in hunger and despair,

she walks alone,

and though fearful of you men she may seem,

be warned that she may not forever be this alone,

for she too dreams and thinks and believes,

for she too needs and wants and loves and weeps,

in the silent night of complacency while impotent mankind sleeps,

and she too will rise and in rising slay,

the beasts that in your callous hearts prowl and lay,

and she too will demand her rightful place,

for every mother and sister and lover and daughter has a real, human face …

i d e n t i t y ?

rootless,
scattered beings,

unlike trees,
tentacled roots,
firmly entrenched,
in this earth,

we walk alongside trees,

embroiled in turmoil,
we hate, waging wars,
we discriminate:

tradition,
race,
culture,
patriarchy,
religion,
ideology,

rootless, we flounder,

racing through lives,
rootless, unencumbered,

seeking a home,
eternal exiles, uprooted,

complacent,
skidding, smiling,
killing, proselytising,

inured by dogma,
anaesthetised with learned prejudice,

basking in the illusion, that we, us, i am surefooted,

yet remaining exiles,
all, together,
bound together by gravity, unable to soar into boundless skies,

tearing each other apart,
unafraid, surefooted,

my country right or wrong,
my religion the only one,
my culture the best,
my tradition superior to all the rest,

my book the word of god,

smugly uprooted,

unlike trees,
deeply rooted,
fanning out like banyans, free,

not us,
paying dues, settling scores, doling out fees,

rootless,
floundering,
meandering through bylanes of isolation,

smug, arrogant,
assuredly surefooted,

in the only truth of my culture, my tradition, my race, my people, my religion,

my god,

have we forgotten the trees,

chopped down,
without sorrow,
desecrated,

once firmly rooted,
now flotsam, jetsam,

like i, you, him, her, us and them,

uprooted, snuffed out,

dragging along dead wood,

pompously preaching the rootedness,

of culture,
of tradition,
of race and of religion,

while we remain,

exiles all, blasé and smugly surefooted,

sowing division,
waving flags,
sermonising,

my country right or wrong,

ignoring the lesson of the trees,

of what it really means to be firmly rooted,

posturing instead, ideological fantasies, religious fancies:

i am right,

and thusly so,

you are all very wrong …
… …

Buchenwald – 1979

walking towards horror,
my seven year old eyes,

were sewn open on that day at Buchenwald.

the reeking stench of death
was by now,
lost to the winds,

and ahead,

stood Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Never Again!

we have said,
over and over,

and over and over,
but, but,

as Erich Fried* wrote,

it happened,

it is happening now,

and it will go on happening if nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again** …

    ____________________

* Erich Fried 1921 – 1988.

http://allpoetry.com/Erich-Fried

** taken from and inspired by Erich Fried’s poem “What Happens”

http://poetrypill.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-happens.html?m=1

afzaljhb@gmail.com

a child of war

image

a child of war.

as she lies bleeding,
the girl who skipped, hopped to school,
all of nine and a half years old,
with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was her parent’s pride.

as she lies bleeding,
shrapnel lodged in her torn stomach,
she stares at her skipping rope,
as her blood soaks it the colour of cherries her mummy buys.

as she lies bleeding,
she sees people all around thick black smoke,
blurred visions of scattering feet, shoes left behind,
hearing nothing but the pinging in her smashed eardrums.

as she lies bleeding,
she slips away and then she is dead,
a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl,
whose laugh was her mother’s pride.

as she lies bleeding,
for even in death she bleeds some more,
shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,
stealing 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,
a little nine and a half year old girl,
whose laugh was her parent’s pride,
we know she’ll bleed more,

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn,

with shrapnel in her stomach,
ripped open and torn.

as she lies bleeding.

N O T
          I N
                M Y
                       N A M E …

Yoda’s advice to Trump et al

Yoda’s unsolicited advice to the Trump and the Republicans:

image

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
  
       ______________

may the ‘leaders’ heed the little green Jedi’s words.

A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

image

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

image

in the belly of xenophobia …

when you see them
passing by your pretty green avenues

grab your garden rake
stone the encroaching horde

they take our jobs
they marry our women

put them all
to the sword

bloody foreigners

leeching off our taxes
stinking up the neighborhood

send them all home

seek them out in every street

in every bar

and finish them off
one by one

finish and klaar

losing my innocence

i lost some of my innocence that day

an odd day all those years ago

when papa asked me to take some tourists to a few sights around town

so i did

we went there
and here
and back

and then something inexplicable occurred

inexplicable to me at least

( naive teenager that i was )

when finally reaching the lotus temple

the four men refused to join me as i led them to this scintillating jewel of architecture right in the middle of my beloved delhi

i couldn’t understand why you see

till we dropped the tourists off at their swanky hotel

and later i told papa what had happened at the lotus temple

and

he said

‘they must have been the religious kind’

which in itself meant nothing to me

and he elaborated

and another petal of innocence fell to the winter floor

on Xenophobia – a Rant

On Xenophobia…

‘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 chucked 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, 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!

Apartheitude

Apartheitude …

Apartheitude – a personal belief presented as ‘fact’. Most often used to denigrate the ‘black’ government, in an attempt to justify racism.

painful it is to hear,

    from strangers, relatives,

    steve hofmeyr & company,

    friends, both near and dear,

    just how fucked-up this country is,

    cos´ you see, man,

    `these bloody blacks of `ours´ can´t rule´.

    `and it was so much better in the `old days´.

    note: old days = the Apartheid era.

    `oh ja, back then there was no crime´.

    note: back then = the Apartheid era.

    and no, they won´t say that `back then´ crime only affected the
`blacks´.

    no, they feign ignorance of the Group Areas Act and of the
Sowetos of our land.

    gugulethu, lenasia, khayelitsha, eldorado park, sebokeng, kwa-
mashu, alexandra township, botshabelo, azaadville, kagiso, riverlea,
mannenberg, roshnee, meadowlands, atteridgeville, chatsworth,
mamelodi, phoenix, newclare, rylands, tembisa,

    was it all a dream?

    or was it as I´ve so often heard it being justified “you see in
principle, there were `some bad things´ about Apartheid, but overall
the system was not an evil, monstrous, inhumane, tyrannical one”.

    no, of course not.

    “you guys won´t understand but things were different `when i was
your age´.

    note: when i was your age = the Apartheid era.

    of course, things were fucking different when you were my age, in
the old days, back then,

    because back then, in the old days, when you were my age …

    the lazy `kaffirs´ were merrily chilling in their sowetos,

    the drunken `hotnots´ were pissing it up in their mannenbergs,

    the shrewd `coolies´ were making money in their chatsworths,

    and the benevolent white-minority regime of the time was busy
seeing to all these niggling issues,

    and there were no electricity cuts for all.

    note: for all = for the privileged white-minority.

    joburg was so clean,

    there were none of these bloody _____________

    ( fill in where appropriate = zimbabweans, `these foreigners´,
pakis, somalis, mozambicans, `fucking foreigners´ etc ).

    so of course things were fucking different when you were my age.

    `ag not like today, né, man´.

    note: today = all things bad. namely:

    a `black government´.

    a `fucked-up constitution that gives criminals more rights than
`us´ normal citizens enjoy´.

    an `almost failed-state banana republic, but `i tell you, give
this country 5 more years and see what malema does to it, ja bru,
just you check and see´.

    and on,

    and fucking endlessly on,

    and on and on it goes,

    a desperate, well-meaning, heartfelt, reasonable, patriotic,
`only because I care´,

    meditation on the state of the nation.

    yes, oh most definitely yes,

    the virus mutates: Apartheid 2014-style.

    “Apartheitude”.

    with style,

    fuck no, not gangnam style, ag nee man

(special thanks to Alan Finlay for his invaluable advice)

On Xenophobia …

On Xenophobia…

‘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 chucked 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, 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 Immigrant …

Seeking solace.
Seeking a home.

The immigrant finds,

rotten prejudice.
Fungal anger.

The immigrant,

alone, hoping for,

A solitary chance.

To belong.

The immigrant,
alone, always,

an outside entity.
Eternal outcast.

A viral threat.
A reeking odour.

The immigrant,

ever alone,
and alone knowing,
that no place exists,
but that lost home.

The Naked Face of Racism …

I met some folks the other day,

and they spewed bile and hate,

to put it bluntly,

they had nothing but shit to say,

talkin’ about ‘Kaffirs’* with self-righteous hate,

vomiting forth on the imminent doom of the South African state,

Oh but I did try some old fashioned reason,

only to be barked down,

it must have been my socks, cos’ my socks you see,

they don’t fit in with the haute-couture of this springs’ season,

and so these pleasant, well-fed, well-clothed business folk kept on blabbering,

about how stupid and corrupt all ‘blacks’ are,

and all this and more said in tones sickly-sweet,

as they guzzled their Blue Label whisky neat,

still I tried to reason,

though in truth I do confess,

I was tempted to terminate the fascist shindig,

and say,

fuck you, you racist pig,

but alas I tried and tried in vain,

but I was left cold, empty, shaking with anger, and filled with a deep pain,

that after all we have been through as a still-healing nation,

we barely haven’t even left the train station,

and I thought of my heroes,

Walter Sisulu,
Oliver Tambo,
Nelson Mandela,
Bram Fischer,
Govan Mbeki,
Ahmed Kathrada,
Chris Hani,
Moses Kotane,
Chief Albert Luthuli,
Lillian Ngoyi,
Helen Joseph,
J.B Marks,

a few amongst so many, many more,

giants of our collective struggle for equality and freedom and justice for all,

just like Dr. King who dreamed a dream while standing proud, dignified, and tall.

And so I left at long last,

stunned, broken, and aghast,

at the raw face of naked racism that I came to see,

in truth I was shaken to my very core,

but,

but,

but let the racist fascists know this,

and they better know this well,

that we shall always be many, many more,

and we shall consign them to the trashcan of history where they belong,

because their hate and their racism,

can never, ever,

and will never, ever,

silence our unfinished song,

a song nourished by the blood of those who died for the internationalist ideal,

and that,

that is something even those hate-filled businessmen can never, ever steal!

*’Kaffir’ – a racially derogatory term used to refer to black Africans in Apartheid South Africa

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

A Meditation on Racism …

“…All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin’ everybody ’til they’re all the same color…” – Warren Beatty in the motion picture “Bulworth”

Ebola & the Prejudices that Lurk just Beneath the Veneer …

call me simplistic,

call me an anachronism,

but,

I detect a faint odour of old – time racism,

as the fear of Black Africa,

of Black Africans,

is camouflaged in haz-mat suits,

and carefully nursed,

fed, ratcheted up,

as the virus mutates,

digging up the fear of those ‘brown folk’,

‘these immigrants’,

‘the bloody foreigners’,

while mouthing platitudes,

to soothe the huddling multitudes,

solidifying the pervasive odour of thinly concealed racism,

and that’s the virus,

already a pandemic,

the virus of embraced ignorance,

of pleasant prejudices,

of the menace of the ‘other’,

the virus of raw, naked racism,

mutating,

sinking its talons,

into pliant minds …

Kobane has Not Fallen …

Kobane has Not Fallen …

Kobane stands,
the resistance firm,
the resolve resolute.

Kobane stands,
repulsing the marauding ISIS horde,

No Pasaran!

They Shall Not Pass!

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

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