Tag Archive: Petrichor


greed is good*

art by banksy



Greed is Good* …

brands and little tender hands,
sewing and sweating,

in dinghy factories and in smoke-clogged stands.

Haute-couture and ostentatious labels,
black and blue whiskey on heaving sushi tables.

Greed is good,


it ‘enhances’ free-market competition,
as we blindly scamper from mall to mall,
devoid of a scintilla of compassionate vision.

Greed is good,
oh and it feeds,
on complicity,
apathy,
as we reap the rewards,
of the sowing of hypocritical seeds.

Greed is good,
yes it is,
as long as we can buy and buy and buy and buy,

and

as long as there’s gourmet coffee to be had,

and,

as long as there are oysters we can lasciviously shuck,

ohhhh yessss,
greed is good,
so we sew our mouths shut,
as we frolic,
as we party,

and,

as we fuck …





art from google


( * – title borrowed from Oliver Stone’s film ‘Wall Street’ )

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

(January 15 1929 – April 4 1968)

1.

You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

2.

They silenced you, yet your dream
resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

3.

You said that you had been to the mountain top,

they tried to strangle your voice as you saw the promised land,

those pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

4.

Today your dream is glimpsed in pastures,

not yet of peace,

for though they tried to silence your voice,

your spirit in our collective hearts does rejoice.

5.

Your spirit, your dream,

mingles in the winds of all those pastures,

over the valleys, in the oceans, across the mountains,

in every flowing stream.

6.

Today, your dream lives in the wind,

seeding the prairies, the steppes, the savannahs, the pampas,

pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

7.

We remember you today,

with a shared pledge to nourish those pastures of peace,

in each of us,

where your dream may thrive,

blossoming into our shared dream,

bounteous, and alive.

8.

Your dream realised shall then seem,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows,

when we give life to the promise of the radiance of your beautiful dream …

I am the Heartbeat of Africa …



I am the Heartbeat of Africa …

I am the heartbeat of Africa. The blood flowing through its veins, and I have seen much. I have witnessed the the pummelling of peoples under the jackboot of colonialism, the plunder of wealth, stripping bare the very veins I flow through. I have urged the collective to stand tall, amidst the horrors of history. It has not been easy, the tyranny of centuries has left scars, raw scabby festering sores, my thumping scarlet oozing out of myriad pores, rendering the great continent pained, hollow … but still, and yet, I course inside millions of souls, refusing to capitulate, thick with hopes for the day and the days after the day. I have placated the wounded, the multitudes forgotten, the bodies seeking respite from the loss, the anger, the deprivation of spirits undimmed by the splintered darkness of racial prejudice. I have seen so much, children torn from loving embraces, mothers holding on, as the world turns its face away, conveniently absolving itself of its crimes. I have felt the hardening of arteries, the will to fight on, despite the overwhelming odds.

yes, I am the blood of Africa. 

and I shall continue to flow, coaxing my people to rise again, to summon up the valiant spirits of the ancestors, to stand and to fight against the insidious doublespeak of tongues, silken tongues peddling instruments of death, shunning the divides that separate one from another, to rise and greet the fresh blazing African sun, each day, every day, until that day when the daily battles cease, when the battles are done. 

yes, I am the blood of Africa, and I shall flow ever on, sowing hope where desolation stalks the evenings, I am hope for tomorrows dawn, for despite and inspite of it all, the new day of peace, of renewed hope, must be, must be born …

with President Nelson Mandela and my father – Johannesburg 2008
President Nelson Mandela and my father – 1950s Johannesburg
President Nelson Mandela and my father – post Apartheid South Africa

My family – A journey through the Seasons.

Part One: Winter

There is a legend in Delhi that when a male-child is born, the parents are visited by a group of ‘Hijras’, a derogatory term used to describe the Transgender community. The troupe gather en-masse outside the home of the parents of the infant boy and sing and dance, and offer blessings to the new arrival, while in return a small sum of money is offered to the visiting party and all returns to the relative ‘normalcy’ that prevails in a home that has just experienced the birth of a child.

These were the early 1970′s, and this story was told to me in great detail by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous ‘Treason Trial’ of 1956.

The ‘main’ “Treason Trial” lasted four years till 1960, though the entire trial lasted till 1961, when the 30 remaining accused (of which my father was one) were acquitted by the Supreme Court.

The outcome of the trial was that all 156 were acquitted of the charge of ‘High Treason’.

During the 5 years of the trial my father and his co-accused had to travel daily to court in Pretoria from Johannesburg, some 60 kilometres away.

The accused were all charged with ‘High Treason’ and faced the death penalty if found guilty. My father was the youngest accused at 22 years of age.

A Flash Forward –

Later, in 1963, when my father was arrested again and held at Marshall Square Police Station in central Johannesburg, my father and three fellow political detainees managed to convince a young Afrikaner warder, Johan Greeff, into helping the four escape from the downtown Johannesburg prison. He was promised financial remuneration for his cooperation.

The news of ‘The Great Escape’ embarrassed the Apartheid state at a time when it felt that it had crushed the African National Congress (ANC), with most of its leaders either in jail, or having gone underground. The ‘Sharpeville’ massacre of 1960 resulted in the Apartheid state declaring a State of Emergency and banning the African National Congress (ANC) and other political organisations.

My father, Moosa ‘Mosie’ Moolla and his three fellow escapees (Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat, Harold Wolpe, and Arthur Goldreich) parted ways and moved from one safe-house to another, until my father, heavily disguised, managed to slip through the border into neighbouring ‘Bechuanaland’, now the country Botswana.

Goldreich and Wolpe managed to disguise themselves as clerics and made their way to Swaziland, a British High Commission Territory, from where they flew over to Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

The South African authorities offered a reward of 5000 Pounds Sterling for the capture of any of the escapees.

Following the escape my father and His fellow escapees were separately sheltered by members of the ANC underground for a few days.

They then parted ways for safety reasons and Abdulhay Jassat made his way to Bechuanaland where he sought political asylum.

By the time my father made his way about a month after the escape to Bechuanaland, the two white colleagues ( my father and Jassat are of Indian-origin) Wolpe and Goldreich had flown over to Tanganyka (now Tanzania) where the ANC’s external headquarters were located in Dar-es-Salaam.

It should be noted that a chartered plane to ferry ANC students and Wolpe and Goldreich was blown-up on the tarmac by South African agents in the early hours of the morning.

Wolpe and Goldreich then flew over on another flight. Jassat followed suit.

An Interesting Fact –

My father and Abdulhay ‘Charlie’ Jassat were both born on June 12th, 1934, and the two were arrested and escaped from prison together, and subsequently lived 30 years of their lives in exile, and both men returned to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners, and the unbanning of the ANC and all liberation movements, and the return of political exiles.

As I type these words, my father and ‘Charlie’ live a few kilometres apart in Johannesburg and meet fairly regularly – mostly at functions or events held to commemorate the years of the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.

But more about my father in a bit.

A Flash Back –

My mother, Zubeida or ‘Zubie’, a nurse at the time, and expecting my brother Azad (which means ‘to be free’ in Urdu) was subsequently arrested and detained while having to endure interrogation about her husband’s whereabouts. Azad was born in late 1963, a few months after my father’s escape.

Thus my father did not see his first-born son till 5 years later in 1968 when my mother and young brother and sister reunited with my father on the Tanzanian border. My father had by then joined the Armed-Wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto-we-Sizwe, or MK, ‘The Spear of the Nation’, which was formed in 1960 following the ANC’s decision to abandon non-violent opposition against Apartheid and to take up arms.

My sister Tasneem Nobandla, ‘Nobandla’ or ‘she who is of the people’ in isiXhosa was given her Xhosa middle name by my father’s comrade-in-arms and his Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who couldn’t make it to my parent’s wedding because he was in detention at the time, a few years earlier!

My sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla was born on October the 14th 1962

‘Nobandla’ was named when Mosie asked his comrade and Best-Man, Nelson Mandela, who could not make it to his wedding to name his new-born daughter. The two men had spent time in jail together in adjoining cells a year earlier in 1962.

Times were tough in those early years of exile, with my father off on military training with the newly formed ANC’s ‘Spear of the Nation’, and my mother having to shoulder the extreme difficulties of life in exile, in a strange country, having left her family behind, and having to essentially fend for herself and her two young children.

This led to a decision that continues to haunt my family to this day.

According to my parents, the situation in exile in those early years of the Anti-Apartheid struggle abroad was so dire, and my father being away training in guerrilla tactics and the like, while my mother worked as a nurse trying to raise two young kids, suffering from bouts of Malaria and being short on money as well, a decision was made to send my young brother and sister back to South Africa to remain in the care of my maternal grandparents, in the hope that when things in exile ‘improved’ or at least settled a bit, the kids would leave the care of their grandparents and join their parents abroad.

This did not happen, and this is one of the most difficult parts of our family’s history to write and talk openly about. Due to circumstances beyond their control, and due to a myriad other reasons, my young brother and sister remained separated from our parents, and grew up in Apartheid South Africa with my maternal grandparents in Johannesburg.

My mother, who passed away in 2008 after a lengthy battle with Motor-Neurone Disease, carried the pain and the guilt of that decision till she died. My father still lives with the guilt and the trauma of being separated from his children, and his family for over 30 years.

My brother Azad and my sister Tasneem, had to endure the unimaginable trauma of knowing that their parents were alive and on distant shores somewhere, yet being utterly helpless in joining them and living as a family, albeit a family in political exile.

The wounds are deep, and the trauma is still raw, all these years later, and my mother died broken-hearted, having to endure the separation of a mother from her children, as well as having to deal with a husband who was engaged full-time in the ANC and the anti-Apartheid struggle in exile.

It is only now that I can understand my mother’s strength of character and fortitude in remaining sane under circumstances that no parent should ever have to go through.

My siblings, on the hand, had to grow up with grandparents, and this has led to our family having to continuously grapple with the scars of a family torn-apart by Apartheid.

My brother Azad, a lawyer, is married with two beautiful young girls, and my sister, a teacher, is married with four beautiful daughters as well.

We all live in Johannesburg, and though some progress has been made in reconciling our family, it is very painful to say that there are many unresolved emotional wounds, which are completely understandable given the circumstances.

President Nelson Mandela and my mother – post Apartheid South Africa

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Two: Spring

The narrative here is neither chronological, nor is it meant to be a complete history of my family thus far – that would be highly presumptuous of me to attempt – so what you, dear reader, are reading (praise be to your perseverance!) are the disjointed thoughts and memories and anecdotal and other stories that every family shares.

I must state that the facts about my father’s internment and escape are all verifiable using a web-search engine, as are the facts about my parent’s involvement in the struggle for liberation in South Africa, and my father’s subsequent appointment by then President Nelson Mandela as South African Ambassador to Iran (1995 – 1999) and later by President Thabo Mbeki as South African High Commissioner to Pakistan (2000 – 2004) in the newly democratic country that countless South Africans sacrificed their lives to achieve.

My parents often spoke of the privilege that they felt to be alive and return to the country of their birth after spending virtually their entire lives as foot-soldiers in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that included in its ranks giants of South African history – Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Dr. Moses Kotane, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Chris Hani, only to name a few, and with no disrespect meant to the many, many more that I have not named.

The ‘privilege’ my parents spoke about was that they were the ‘fortunate’ ones, the ones who lived to see the non-racial, non-sexist, democratic constitution being drafted, and a South Africa without the crime against humanity that was Apartheid.

So many comrades and friends and fellow compatriots did not live to cast their vote on that glorious April day in 1994, and to see Nelson Mandela being inaugurated as South Africa’s first freely elected black President, a President who represented the whole of South African society.

A Flash Back –

And so it was that I was born in 1972 in an India that had just been engaged in a war with Pakistan, which in turn led to the establishment of a new country – Bangladesh.

India at the time was the in midst of austere Nehruvian Socialism, and my parents who had spent the mid and late-1960′s in Tanzania, Zambia and Britain, were deployed by the African National Congress to India, where my father was the Chief-Representative of the ANC.

My early childhood years were spent in India, and I recall the sweltering Delhi summers and the torrential monsoons that offered respite, albeit briefly, from the furnace of the Indian summer.

When I was 6 years old, my father was deployed by the ANC to be its Chief-Representative in Cairo, Egypt, and to be the ANC Representative at the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO).

This was 1978, and as a 6 year old, I am afraid I have very few fond memories of Cairo – we lived on a meagre stipend and though we lived in an apparently ‘better’ suburb of Cairo called Zamalek, an island on the Nile, the flat we occupied was on the ground-floor of a high-rise apartment block and it was damp, dark, and had the unfortunate distinction of being right next to the apartment block’s garbage-disposal area!

This meant a steady stream of litter, literally being flung from the windows of our neighbours in the flats above us, and often landing with a crash of shattered glass right outside our tiny kitchen.

Cairo was also where I had to unlearn the Hindi I had learnt in Delhi and pick up Arabic, which I did as most 6 year olds do when required by circumstance to learn a new language.

I faintly remember the Presidents’ Sadat-Carter meetings around the time of the Camp David Peace Accord signed between Israel and Egypt and my days were spent riding my bicycle through the dusty lanes of Zamalek.

One memory that is particularly poignant is that of my mother, with her head in her hands, sobbing as she pined for her two children at the opposite end of the African continent. I remember many days walking back from school and before stepping into our apartment block, seeing my mother through the window of what was my room, head in hands, crying.

It is a memory that I carry with me still.

Another indelible memory is when we visited the WWII museum of the battle of al-Alamein, in al-Alamein. Walking past the graves of the fallen in the war against Nazism, we came across many South African names, and I remember vividly how my father explained to me what Fascism and Nazism meant, and how important it was at the time for the world to fight it.

As we walked through the tombstones of the WWII soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained to me how Apartheid in South Africa was a scourge (though not in those words!) like Fascism and Nazism, and how just as the world had joined forces to fight Hitler and Mussolini, we too had to fight against Apartheid in South Africa, and that is why I was not at ‘home’ with my brother and sister.

‘Home’. That was something for a 9 or 10 year old to hear, because I had grown up always being told about ‘home’ being South Africa, which was as distant to me as the stars above the Pyramids. I was aware from as young as I can remember my parents’ sometimes angry insistence that home was not where we happened to be, at a particular time, whether in Delhi or in Cairo, but in distant South Africa.

I however, could not understand why ‘home’ was not where I was. In Delhi I spoke Hindi like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our little flat on the 1st floor of a block of flats in Greater Kailash. But then came the move to Cairo, and in no time at all I completely forgot my Hindi, and learnt Arabic like a local, and had friends and felt that ‘home’ was our dinghy flat in Zamalek.

And then in 1982, my father was re-deployed from Cairo back to Delhi, and suddenly there I was, 10 years old, meeting my old friends and not knowing a word of Hindi!

So the idea of ‘belonging’, of ‘home’, of being rooted in a place and time was alien to me from a very young age. I remember dreading when the next ‘move’ would be, given that my parents were political exiles and often having to pack up our few belongings and travelling at very short notice. I do not want it to sound like it was particularly unpleasant in any way, because there also was the thrill a child has of the packing and the plane rides, and the new places that were so, so new to me. Cairo and Delhi probably had only the following things in common: the heat, the population, and the fact that both Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser and India under Jawaharlal Nehru were two of the four countries (the others being Sukarno’s Indonesia and Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia) that founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during the Cold War.

A Flash Forward –

The year is 1990, and my parents and I found ourselves in Helsinki, Finland, where in November 1989 the ANC deployed my father as ANC Secretary to the World Peace Council (WPC) which had its headquarters in Helsinki.

For the 17 year old that I was to suddenly, in a matter of weeks, pack up and leave high-school, friends and a girl-friend at the time, was particularly harsh for me.

I remember spending the winter of 1989 holed up in our two-bedroomed flat in Helsinki, not knowing what had just taken place. I pined for the girl I was (kind of!) dating back in school in Delhi, and I was thoroughly shocked by the below-zero temperatures of winter in Scandinavia, and thoroughly disheartened by the short days and long, long nights. I did love the snow however!

Then it happened. We heard the news that Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners in South Africa were to be released, unconditionally, and that the liberation movements and the ANC were to be unbanned!

This changed everything.

It was a chaotic and heady time, with high hopes and renewed life as the once impossible dream of returning ‘home’ was to be realised.

A very memorable trip was made by my parents and I, by ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm, Sweden. An overnight ferry-ride, the trip was magical, for we were to meet Nelson Mandela, free after 27 years on Robben Island and in Sweden to meet the President of the ANC, comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo, Mandela’s old friend, law-partner and life-long comrade in the ANC. President Oliver Tambo, who had been in exile for almost 30 years was a dynamic and charismatic and intellectual giant who had built the ANC in exile from being just another liberation movement in exile into the voice of the South African freedom struggle, launching successful campaigns to isolate Apartheid South Africa from the world community.

Unfortunately President Oliver Tambo had suffered a stroke and was convalescing as a guest of the Swedish government; themselves staunch allies in the fight against Apartheid. Nelson Mandela met his old comrade in Stockholm and we met the godfather of my sister, and the would-be best-man of my father in a hall in Stockholm. I have photographs of the tears and joy as Mandela hugged my father and mother, and as old comrades including Ahmed Kathrada who also spent 27 years in jail with Mandela and the other Rivonia Trial accused, met after nearly 30 years! I was overwhelmed, as were countless others to finally meet the man who had become the face of the worldwide struggle against Apartheid.

That my parents knew the Mandelas as young friends and comrades only made the reunion on a Scandinavian day all the more special.

There was a sense of vindication, of oppression though still not defeated, but definitely in its final moments, as we acknowledged that we all stood on the cusp of something so many had not only dreamed about, but dedicated their entire lives to achieve.

We spent a few days in Stockholm and Uppsala, and then hopped on the ferry back to Helsinki, to finally begin preparations for the return home.

The trip we made was on freezing November night, when we boarded a train from Helsinki to Moscow, and then flew to Maputo in Mozambique where we spent a night, before boarding a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg.

I will never forget the stifled sobs of my mother as the pilot announced we were flying over South African soil.

My parents and I returned to South Africa on a November day in 1990, as part of a batch of returning political exiles.

I was 18 years old and met most of my family members for the first time.

My father receiving “The Order of Luthuli” in Silver from President Jacob Zuma

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Three: A Summer Digression

And now, dear reader (may your patience be praised!), I am going to steer this ship of memories as we embark on a journey of emotions – a subjective voyage through the feelings that I have felt, the emotions that I have experienced during the course of my 40 year old life.

You, dear reader, may stop reading right now if you find outpourings of emotion and wearing one’s feelings on one’s sleeve not your cup of Earl-Grey! If however, and I sincerely hope you do decide to read through this ‘summer’ of life’s memories, I assure you that what you will read will be savage honesty, however painful and hard it is to bare one’s soul for all to see the flawed human-beings that we all are.

And so it was that just past my 18th birthday in September of 1990, I found myself ‘home’ in South Africa, after 18. Years of dreaming what ‘home’ would be like and how my brother and sister and cousins and aunts and uncles would take me into their homes and lives.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and kindness showered on me, the ‘returning’ boy who was not really returning, but was dipping his toes into the early 1990′s, a period of South African history, just preceding the first free and democratic election in 1994 that was one of the country’s most trying of times.

The Apartheid regime, having unbanned all political organisations and liberation movements and releasing political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and others, was still not willing to relinquish power, and had embarked on a cynical and dirty campaign of fomenting violence in the sprawling black townships in Johannesburg, Durban and other cities around the country.

There were killings and hit-squads that roamed and terrorised communities while negotiations between the Apartheid government and the African National Congress (ANC) offered hope and then broke down, and then were restarted until finally, on April the 27th, 1994, black South African, for the first time in their lives, cast their ballots which resulted in sweeping Nelson Mandela’s ANC into power, with Nelson Mandela or ‘Madiba’ as he is known becoming South Africa’s first black President.

I attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected President in Pretoria on a crisp May 10th morning along with friends and comrades, and we openly wept as the South African Air-Force flew overhead, the flag of our new ‘rainbow’ nation fluttering below.

A Flash Back –

My early days in South Africa were ones of family dinners and visits to relatives and old family friends and comrades in the struggle. My father started work almost immediately at the ANC’s headquarters in central Johannesburg, and I attended my final year of high-school, also in central Johannesburg.

Looking back now, I see myself then as a caricature of the immigrant who just wants to fit in, always being on one’s best behaviour, and under no circumstances allowing the turmoil within to bubble to the surface.

I was born to parents who were non-religious; my father definitely more so than my mother, who ‘believed’ in God, though was never one to make a show of it.

I grew up not really knowing what religion I was born into, as my parents never, and though never is a strong word, it is applicable here; my parents never mentioned religion at home.

My mom would cook up a storm on Eid-ul-Fitr every year, the feast that is the culmination of the fasting month of Ramadaan, but then we never fasted or paid attention to religious ritual or practice. I can say that religion was absent from our home, whether we were in India, Cairo or Helsinki.

I am forever indebted to my parents for having raised me with and this may sound pompous of me to say, humane values, rather than strictly religious ones, not that the two are mutually exclusive!

I attended a school in Delhi in the 1980′s, Springdales, an institution founded by two great humanitarians, Mrs. Rajni Kumar and her husband Mr. Yudhishter Kumar, both human-beings who possessed the highest qualities of compassion, humanity, and a burning sense of the need to tackle injustice, wherever and in whatever shape or form it was to be encountered.

My years at Springdales in Delhi, though I was hardly a promising academic student (having failed standard 8!), I now look back and am forever indebted to the culture of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of station in life, religion, caste, gender or race, that my still-beloved Springdales inculcated in me.

The culture of Springdales School and the manner in which my parents raised me, has led to a life-long aversion to intolerance in any shape, colour or form, and a strong belief in the power of rational and critical thinking.

I thank my parents again, and my Springdales, for bestowing on me this invaluable gift.

A Flash Forward –

And so I find myself, now in the teen years of the new millennium, still always feeling that I am on the outside, looking in – and I find this vantage point to be, strangely, comfortable now, I must admit.

I do not have much time for religion or for cultural affiliations. Again, this is not meant to be offensive to anyone, these are the feelings I am comfortable with. I cannot stress this enough, just how my upbringing and my years at Springdales have hewn into my consciousness, and the absolute need for the respect for all.

I am growing weary of talking about myself, as I am sure you, dear reader, are as well, and so I shall stop this monologue with the words of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara who when responding to a woman who also bore the ‘Guevara’ name and who had written to Che asking him where in Spain his ancestors came from. This was Che’s response …

“I don’t think you and I are very closely related but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time that an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important.”

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience, and for your taking the time to read these ramblings of mine.

President Nelson Mandela and I – Sweden 1990

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Four: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

A Flash Back –

I look back to that November evening in Helsinki, Finland in 1989, where the temperature was around -20 degrees Celsius, and we stood on the railway platform with our little luggage (mostly books, photographs etc) with tickets to Moscow via Leningrad (yes, it was still called Leningrad back then).

I recall my mother and father, by then already in their late 50′s, and preparing to return to their home, South Africa, after almost three decades living in exile all across the globe, from Zambia to Tanzania to England to India to Egypt to India again and then to Finland, and now following the Apartheid regime’s unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and other political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela and political prisoners, my parents were to return to a country they had called ‘home’ for as long as I can remember. South Africa was always; always home, no matter where we happened to be.

Whether it was in our ground-floor, bleakly dark flat in Zamalek, Cairo where we had to keep the fluorescent lights on during the day, or in our 1st floor flat in Safdarjang Development Area in Delhi, or in our cramped 2-bedroom flat in Helsinki, Finland, I was always told about ‘home’, about family and about the country that I grew up loathing (Apartheid South Africa) as well as the country that I grew up idealising, for South Africa was after all ‘home’, that mythical place where family stuck together and where my brother Azad and my sister Tasneem grew up, separated from their parents, and where finally, at long last, Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 years in Apartheid’s jails.

I often look back on my years growing up as a child of political exiles, and I am thankful, as I grew up without the hardships that so many fellow exiles had to endure.

I am also thankful, for the depth of humanity that I saw in strangers and friends and people who took us in, and loved us, and extended hands of solidarity and assistance and warmth when we were most alone.

I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people, ordinary folk, workers, labourers, academics, doctors and engineers, school-teachers and students, who chose to identify with the plight of the oppressed people of South Africa, just as they chose to support the cause of justice, of freedom and of self-determination in Namibia, Western-Sahara, and Palestine.

I can vividly remember the pain and anguish that my mother endured, being separated from her family and her children, and I remember her tears, her quiet sobbing when I used to return home from school, knowing that my father was away travelling, often for months at a time.

It is not easy to put everything down on paper, and indeed it is impossible to capture all of one’s experiences, yet I feel it is very important that I share these thoughts with you, dear and patient reader, not because of what I wish to say about myself, or even about my parents, but to honour and to remember and to cherish the strong bonds that were forged during those sometimes hard times, and to convey to all, that no matter what one hears about our differences as people, be it differences of creed, of colour, of nationality, there is a ‘human’ connection that I have seen that simply extinguishes the claims by the religiously fanatical, or by the jingoistic nationalists who seek to impose upon us a barrier, a wall, a divide that cannot be breached. I have mentioned what I am about to write earlier, and I only repeat it because I believe it needs to be repeated, so forgive me, dear reader, if I seem to be revisiting old ground.

The old ground that I feel I need to revisit now is that of a story that my mother used to tell me, repeatedly, and always with tears in her eyes, and always with her crying openly as she retold this story over and over again to me.

Let me place the story in its historical context. The year was 1971, and India had just been at war with Pakistan, and my parents had arrived in what was then called Bombay and had rented a small apartment in one of Bombay’s high-rise blocks of flats.

It is important to remember that India had gained independence only 24 years earlier, so the wounds and the trauma of the division of India (into Pakistan and East-Pakistan) were still very fresh.

My father was sent by African National Congress (ANC) to India, in order to work to further strengthen the support that the liberation movement had received from India.

My mother, who was a nurse by profession, had started working at Bombay’s Breach Candy Hospital, and my father was busy establishing links within the sizeable South African student community that Bombay was home to.

One day my father decided to jump over a railing, in order to catch a bus, and slipped and fell.

I shall now let my mother tell her story …

… Now we had just arrived in India, and though Mosie and I spoke Gujarati, we still didn’t know Hindi or Marathi (the language spoken in Maharashtra, the state in which Bombay/Mumbai is located), and here comes Mosie, limping and in pain. I am a nurse and so I took a look at his foot and it looked bad, but what were we to do? We didn’t know anyone, we didn’t have a telephone, and we didn’t speak the language. So I went and knocked on our neighbour’s door. An elderly lady opened the door and I explained in English that we were new in the apartment-block and that my husband had suffered a possible fracture. The old lady then asked me to sit. I sat. The elderly lady then asked me my name and I said ‘Zubeida, but you can call me Zubie’. I then told the lady all about South Africa, about how I had been separated from my two children, about Apartheid, about Nelson Mandela, and about how we were freedom fighters and were in exile. The old lady broke down and sobbed, and I cried too, feeling her warmth towards me, even though I was a total stranger. Then the elderly lady told me that they were Punjabis and during the partition of India, they had to flee their home in what later became Pakistan because they were Hindus. The old lady sobbed when she told me about the rioting, the massacres, the pain of leaving everything behind and fleeing with only the clothes on their backs, and then she grabbed my hand tightly and said that she understood everything, and she shared my pain, because she too had been a refugee once … (at this point my mother would be crying openly while telling me the story) … and that from then on, she was my elder sister. This from a woman who had experienced the horrors of partition, and who realising I had a Muslim name, chose to share her life story with me, and who could understand what we were going through. Anyway, we called a doctor who turned out to be a Parsi ‘Bone-Setter’ … (laughing between tears now) … and later when we moved to Delhi and her daughter Lata got married to Ravi Sethi and also moved to Delhi, she told Lata that ‘Zubeida hamaari behen hai’ (Zubeida is my sister) and that Lata should keep in touch with us. That’s how Papa and I know aunty Lata and uncle Ravi …

Hearing my mother tell me this story over and over again, emphasising that aunty Lata’s mother had gone through hell at the hands of Muslims, and still she chose to see my mother not as a Muslim, but as a fellow human-being, who shared a similar life in the fact that my parents were also refugees, having fled their country, and that aunty Lata’s mother ‘took’ my parents in, and shared a bond that cannot be described sufficiently in words, as words would only dilute the depth of feeling that the two women shared for each other, only makes my belief in the power of the humanity that binds us all together that much stronger.

Yes, there will be those who will say that those were different times, and that nowadays things have changed.

Yes, there will be many who may call it idealism, romanticism, or simply burying one’s head in the sand, but I still hold on firmly to the belief that aunty Lata’s mother and my mother shared, one person to another, regardless of religion, colour, caste, wealth, status or any of the many other ‘yard-sticks’ that people are measured by, and by emphasising our shared humanity, rather than by highlighting our differences, that we can, and that we shall, indeed, overcome, someday.

Myself and my poem “Remember us when you walk this Way” as part of the permanent exhibition at the Lileasleaf Farm Rivonia Trial Museum – http://www.liliesleaf.co.za

Remember Us When You Pass This Way.

(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 and 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.

Comrade Winnie Mandela and myself – Johannesburg

My Family – A Historical Journey through the Seasons

Part Five: Thoughts about Exile, Home, Identity, Belonging

‎‎This scribble is going to be a rambling, not too coherent piece all about my thoughts on identity, belonging, exile, and about ‘home’.

So, my dear friends, I invite you to accompany me, with sufficient forewarning I hope, on this scribbled ramble…

Home

Looking back now, I can say that I grew up with two very separate yet entwined ideas of ‘home’ – ‘home’ being both the idealised country of my parents, who spoke of ‘home’, which meant South Africa, as being the place where ‘family’ was an umbrella of safety and a source of comfort, and the other reality of what ‘home’ meant was the reason I was born in exile in the first place, the country that had become a pariah of the world, with its brutal, oppressive system of Apartheid racial-segregation.

Now this may seem odd from today’s historical vantage point, but back when I was growing up in India and Egypt, there was a definite sense that we would never see ‘home’ again.

The hopes and aspirations with which my parents lived by, and probably had to live by, was that freedom would come in our lifetime. But a lifetime can be a long time, so there was also the possibility that we may never see the end of Apartheid, and this fear, which I think is shared by exiles, refugees, and all displaced human beings, was always just below the surface.

This ever-present and often repressed fear was fuelled by the deaths of fellow exiles who passed on before South Africa’s transition from Apartheid state to democratic nation took place in 1994.

I recall an old ANC comrade, an elderly man in his 60′s, who lived with us in Cairo in the early 1980′s, and to whom I became quite close, who later took ill and passed away in a Cairo hospital.

I was 8 years old at the time, and even though my parents did not tell me that ‘uncle’ had passed away, I knew it. I sensed it from his deteriorating health earlier, and from the grave expressions my parents wore for months after ‘uncle’ ‘left’.

My parents carried their own feelings of guilt and pain, of leaving behind a young son and daughter (my siblings Azad and Tasneem whom I did not grow up with) in South Africa, who grew up with my maternal grand-parents in Johannesburg. My parent’s guilt and pain never left them, and I remember my mother as she lay bedridden with Motor-Neurone Disease almost 14 years after freedom still carrying the anguish of the separation of parent from child.

My father still carries the pain with him, and I think even more so today because of the difficulties and emotional minefields that he has to navigate through knowing that he did not share his two eldest children’s childhood, and only now, after all these decades, are the relationships being strengthened, and that too is still a work in progress.

I can only imagine the pain, emotional trauma, anguish and heartbreak that my sister Tasneem, and my brother Azad felt growing up knowing that their parents were out in the world, yet remaining separated from them.

It is a legacy of pain, of homes and of families split up and separated that remains with us today, of Apartheid’s continuing brutalisation of South Africans.

These complex and conflicting issues that we as family, and we as a nation have to deal with may still yield some measure of peace, if that is at all possible, given the weight of the past.

I have so much more to say, dear reader, but it can wait for later.

I can say that my experiences growing up here, there and everywhere have been a convoluted scattering of disjointed places, of half-remembered faces and of many a restless night spent contemplating the questions of identity, home, belonging and of what ‘anchors’ a person.

Perhaps there are reasons for the times when that vagabond exile blood gets restless and that itch, that impatience, that urge to move, to flee, to rejoin the nomadic community surfaces.

And perhaps, there are reasons too, for my ability to suppress the sometimes fiery urge to trade quiet suburban stasis for the unknown path of the unnamed exile.

I leave you, respected reader, with a poem I scribbled some time ago:

Freedom – The Unfinished Dream …

The shackles have been cast off.

The chains broken.

A people once squashed,

under the jackboot of Apartheid,

are free.

Free at last!

Freedom came on the 27th day in that April of 1994.

Freedom from prejudice.

From institutionalized racism.

From being relegated to second-class citizens.

Freedom came and we danced.

We cried.

We ululated as we elected

our revered Mandela.

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our very own beloved ‘Madiba’.

Black and white and brown and those in-between.

The many hues of this nation,

rejoiced as we breathed in the air of freedom and democracy.

Today we pause.

We remember.

We salute.

The brave ones whose sacrifices made this day possible,

on that 27th day of April,

24 years ago.

Today we may dance.

We sing.

We ululate!

We cry.

Tears of joy and tears of loss.

Of remembrance and of forgiveness.

Of yet to be realised reconciliation and of the ghastly memories that still torment us.

Today we pause.

We acknowledge the tasks ahead.

The hungry.

The naked.

The destitute.

Today we reaffirm,

that promise of freedom.

From want.

From hunger.

From eyes without promise.

Today we reflect.

On unfulfilled promises.

On the proliferation of greed.

On the blurring of the ideals of freedom.

Today we say:

We will take back the dream.

We will renew the promise.

We will not turn away.

Today we pledge:

To stand firm.

To keep the pressure on.

To remind those in the corridors of power,

that we the people still need to savour the fruits of the tree of freedom*.

And till that time,

when all shall share in the bounty of democracy,

We shall remain vigilant,

and strong.

And we shall continue,

to struggle.

And to shout out loud,

“Amandla – Awethu!”**

     ________________

* – final words of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu before he has executed by the Apartheid regime in 1979

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”.

** – “Amandla – Awethu” means “Power to the People, and was a rallying slogan during the struggle against Apartheid.

President Nelson Mandela’s mother and my mother 1950s demonstrating against the imprisonment of political prisoners

The Hyperbole of Verbose Hope

“Rising Hope” – Painting by Karla Beatty

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The Hyperbole of Verbose Hope …

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When wilting despair blossoms into hope,
and life that seemed held together by strings you were always flailing to grope,

the dawn sun cocoons you with its rejuvenating rays,
and you feel the stirrings of being alive once more, crawling out from the desolate maze.

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When the slicing sleet of pain turns into a gentle shower of life-affirming rain,
and life that seemed held together by fingers fractured by the incessant strain,

the song of the birds caress you with their enveloping refrain,
unshackling the emotions that once held you in a vise, meant only to restrain.

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When the days and nights no longer shred you, piece by agonising piece,
and life that seemed held together by a daily renewable lease,

your soul finally soars the scarlet skies with untethered release,
and at long last, you touch the clouds, feeling the filaments of that almost forgotten peace.

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The verbosity of this scribble may seem overdone, but only because finally from the excruciating hyperbolic anguish you know you can now cope,

only because finally you grasp tightly onto long lost hope,

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embracing hope,

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infused by hope,

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pure peaceful hope

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“Hope” – Painting by Megan Duncanson

This hapless man

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This hapless man.

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… … … this hapless man,
this quivering leaf,

is falling, tripping,
feeling the desire a-raging,

with thoughts of you, so true,

enveloping my being whole,

so forgive me if I say so,

you’ve seduced my soul,

as the storm clouds roll,

as the evening bells toll … … …

Is it me?

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. Is it me?

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Is it me or is that a conscience I see drowning in the apathetic gutter?

Is it me or is that a expletive I hear a gucci-clad man to a homeless person mutter?

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Is it me or is that a pure heart I spot, being savagely ripped with malice?

is it me or is that a soul being drowned in an obscene ostentatious chalice?

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Is it me or is that the sickening drone of the few carping on about their bank balances’ erect phallus?

Is it me or are they the same who regard the homeless as living in an under-the-bridge palace?

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Is it me or is that the chilly wind of apathy I feel a-blowin’?

Is it me or are those streams the tears of numberless mothers that keep on a-flowin’?

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Is it me or is that the hallowed bourse where human dignity like derivatives are calculated and sold?

Is it me or is that the flogged dignity that the many try so hard to grasp onto and hold?

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It must be me, even though my eyes see nothing now but the repellant glare,

of the overflowing glittering pot of plenty from which only the 1% share.

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It must be me because when basic humanity is an endangered sentiment glimpsed at, only here and there,

It must be me when exhausted labourers have to scrounge around just to eke out their daily bus fare.

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It is me for I laze on my throne, dashing off these meagre absolving scribbles,

It is me for it is from my mouth that each hollow “I’m-so-shocked” dribbles.

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It is me as I “like” photographs of squalor and famine on Facebook et al,

It is me for I am the one who remains self-absorbed as the forests burn, and the last rhino awaits the grandiose cull.

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It is me alright, no doubt about it at all, as I smirk at the weakened who stumble and fall,

It is me alright, who rides my chariot through the hungry throng, just so I can make it to the glittering ball.

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Of course it is me, with my hifalutin words and my hollow don’t-give-a-shit attitude,

Of course it is me, just as long I can scribble meaningless platitude upon platitude.

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Of course it is me.
That much I know to be true.

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But,
just possibly,

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could it be you too?

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__________________________

copyleft afzal moolla 2019

X E N O P H O B I A

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This was written in January 2013.

Utterly shameful, obscene, and inexcusable that it is true today.
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It ain’t Xenophobia? Really?
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it’s not xenophobia?

the refrain is the same,

it’s the criminals to blame,

we still won’t be calling the attacks by their stinking name,

‘xenophobia’

yes,

that’s what it is,

but,

let us not be simplistic,

we have to face the ugliness of our collective shame,

because when mostly ‘foreigners’ get put to the flame,

how can we ignorance feign?

it’s xenophobia,
simple and plain,

with poverty & unemployment barrelling on a runaway train,

and it won’t just ‘go away’,

for as long as ignorant complicity continues to reign …
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_____________________

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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.
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As a citizen of South Africa, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that our young country faces.
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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.
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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.
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That something is how rife ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment is within our various, and still divided communities.
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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’.
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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.
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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.
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This was in 2008.
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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’.
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What is going on?
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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.
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The synonyms for xenophobia include racism, racial intolerance, and prejudice.
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The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere are xenophobes.
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No one disputes that.
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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’.
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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.
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We are Africans.
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And above all, we are all human.
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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.
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Pogroms, xenophobic attacks, racism, intolerance, prejudice, casteism, religious bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, do not simply arise out of nothing.
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There are societal, religious, traditional, cultural and other factors that do indeed create fertile ground for some of these noxious sentiments to germinate.
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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.
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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.
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As South Africans, we know just how friendly countries welcomed us during the darkest days of Apartheid repression and tyranny.
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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.
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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.
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We should never forget this.
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Ever.
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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.
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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.
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There is a simmering undercurrent of the possibility of attacks on foreigners as I type these words.
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If this is not taken seriously and dealt with, sadly we may see scenes similar to those we witnessed in 2008.

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AND IT IS HAPPENING NOW. TODAY.

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Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

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What Happens
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By Erich Fried*

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It has happened

and it happens now as before

and will continue to happen

if nothing is done against it.

The innocent don’t know a thing about it

because they are too innocent

and the guilty don’t know a thing about it

because they’re too guilty.

The poor don’t take notice

because they’re too poor

and the rich don’t take notice

because they’re too rich.

The stupid shrug their shoulders

because they’re too stupid

and the clever shrug their shoulders

because they’re too clever.

It doesn’t bother the young

because they’re too young

and it doesn’t both the old

because they’re too old.

That’s why nothing is done against it

and that’s why it happened

and happens now as before

and will continue to happen.

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* –

Erich Fried

1921-1988
Erich Fried (6 May 1921 – 22 November 1988), an Austrian poet born to Jewish
parents who settled in England, was known for his political-minded
poetry. He was also a broadcaster, translator and essayist.

Erich Fried (6 May 1921 – 22 November 1988), an Austrian poet who
settled in England, was known for his political-minded poetry. He was
also a broadcaster, translator and essayist.

Born to Jewish parents Nelly and Hugo Fried in Vienna, he was a child
actor and from an early age wrote strongly political essays and poetry.
He fled with his mother to London after his father was murdered by the
Gestapo after the Anschluss with Nazi Germany. During the war, he did
casual work as a librarian and a factory hand. He joined Young Austria, a
left-wing emigrant youth movement, but left in 1943 in protest at its
growing Stalinist tendencies. In 1944 he married Maria Marburg, shortly
before the birth of his son Hans. In the same year his first volume of
poetry was published. He separated from Maria in 1946, and they divorced
in 1952. In the same year he married Nan Spence Eichner, with whom he
had two children; David (1958) and Katherine (1961). Erich and Nan
divorced in 1965. In 1965 he got married for a third time to Catherine
Boswell with whom he had three children; Petra (1965), Klaus and Tom
(1969).

From 1952 to 1968 he worked as a political commentator for the BBC
German Service. He translated works by Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot and
Dylan Thomas. In 1962 he returned to Vienna for the first time.

He published several volumes of poetry as well as radio plays and a
novel. His work was sometimes controversial, including attacks on the
Zionist movement and support for left-wing causes. His work was mainly
published in the West, but in 1969, a selection of his poetry was
published in the GDR poetry series Poesiealbum, and his Dylan Thomas
translations were published in that same series in 1974. The composer
Hans Werner Henze set two of Fried’s poems for his song-cycle Voices
(1973).

In 1982 he regained his Austrian nationality, though he also retained
the British nationality he had adopted in 1949. He died of intestinal
cancer in Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1988 and is buried in Kensal Green
cemetery, London.

An Austrian literary prize is named after him – the Erich Fried Prize

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Erich Fried

dawn slides 




momentary slides,


of lifes’ exquisite times,


at times,




are dusted, burnished,


shedding the weight, baggage,




of random strings,


at once,




flinging me opposite you,


in a dream i relished,




not long ago,




so know this, if nothing else,


those moments within me reside,




today, now,


as timely as the coming in of each dawns tide … …

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Talkin’ Neo-fascist Blues …

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The odour of fire and hate that I smell across our earth,
reeks of an obscene neo-fascism that is being brought to birth,

for as our world’s lungs are clogged and in flames,
and as hard-won democracy is tear-gassed and gored,
millions of our sisters and brothers are being put to the sword.

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When the mathematics of 370, of tariff fluctuations flung here and there, of the nauseating billions siphoned and looted,
while hungry mouths and empty bellies are silenced and jackbooted,

even as they scapegoat the poor, the destitute, the ninety-nine percent,
even as they call us the toxic, fifth-column diseased brigade,
it is their rapacious greed that pummel us to the ground, as they sip their cocktails in their ostentatious shade.

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While constitutions are ripped apart, and religions are poisoned into many a hornets hive, lo and behold we must celebrate that at long last, our sisters are allowed to drive,

and this isn’t the madness of emotions laid bare, this is the careful crafting of hate, of communalism, of religious bigotry, of patriarchal injustice, of us and of them, of prejudice chiselled with venomous care.

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For when the richest countries dehumanise the poor, when their presidents and so-called leaders strut conceitedly, with the puffed-up ugliness of a drunken bar boor,

when the weak are threatened, the rich coddled, when the beaten down are beaten down ever more to the blood-caked floor,

the time has long past to boot these fascists out of the door,

to reclaim our streams, our seeds, our shared waters, our collective commons and so much more,

and to finally shutter the shutters, to tear down the walls they build, because our world is not their 24/7 convenience store …

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yes, I’m talkin’ neo-fascist greed and racist, misogynistic, grotesque nationalist hate,

yes, I’m talkin’ the jagged edges of discord, the realpolitik of tribal, divisive, casteist sandpaper that is meant to grate,

yes, the erosion of shared humane principles, the corrosion of the internationalist ideal, the dumbing us down and flaying us into submission, the never-ending braying that this is and will always be our fate.

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Yet we will rise!

We rise as one!

We rise and we resist,

yes,
we must rise today,
before it is truly, far too late.

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leaving it all behind 

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leaving the din of this city far behind,

away from the strangling grind.

she asked me “what are you hoping to find?”,

“you”, ” i said,

“if you don’t mind” …

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Our mother with Comrade Nelson Mandela’s mother

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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 )

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1.

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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.

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

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3.

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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.

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4.

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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.

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5.

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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.

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4.

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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.

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5.

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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 grandchildren 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.

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6.

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The 15th of August, a day of celebration of freedom in India.

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The 15th of August, a day of reflection for our family in South Africa.

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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 )

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Our mother with Comrade Nelson Mandela

Love Concedes






love concedes … … …




love concedes, through bitter travails,


love recedes, into closeted wardrobes,


love exhausts, lover and loved alike,


but,


love endures, through the years,


traversing valleys of tears,


dispelling untruths,


exiling paralysing fears.

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a scribble just scribbled. definitely needs to be edited and maybe rewritten but it’s just a raw slice of pained emotion now.

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The First People and the People of our World Speak …

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You visited our shores,
bearing muskets and swords.

You landed on our revered soil,
in your hearts your blood a-boil.

You came to our land,
cunningly extending a friendly hand.

Your motives were clear,
pillage and plunder everything, however far or near.

Your eyes blazed with greed,
always hungering for so much more than you ever could need.

Your syphilis-blankets were your gift to us,
biological warfare you waged with a smile and without a fuss.

You tore into our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our wives – to the very last,
your ugliness has not been forgotten after all these centuries that have passed.

You decimated our peoples, raining death upon us as a bloodthirsty barbarian horde,
you slaughtered the bison that roamed free, as into their flesh your bullets mangled and gored.

You stole from us all we ever had, regarding us as vermin meant to be wiped off the face of this earth,
your genocide is now a footnote in history, you cackled merrily as your ethnic-cleansing was carried out with much mirth.

You dumped us into ‘reservations’, your sickening Apartheid on display,
your arbitrary ‘bantustans’* was where you decreed our people could stay.

The reservations are where we barely live today,
creating the climate so that with alcohol and drugs our people you still slay.

Where are your grand words that you spew around like dung,
“freedom” and “democracy” and all the other hollow platitudes that are so obscenely flung.

We could go on about your carefully crafted plans to get rid of us all, the gracious “White-Mans’ Burden” repeated endlessly through colonialism and neo-imperialism all around this world,
your avaricious plunder of this, our common earth, on grotesque display as on “free trade treaties” your signatures swirl.

Yes, we could speak endlessly about your notions of racial superiority, your hubris that your might is right, how you try to cower us all because today your empire is strong,
yes, we could and perhaps should talk about your noxious nationalism, your obscene belief in “my country right or wrong”.

Yes, we could go on and on, about the racism that you embrace, even as you blabber that God is one.

Yes, today we will remind you that “The Cradle of Humankind”** is here on the southern tip of the continent of Africa, where all of us, the human originated from,

yes, today we will remind you that as you pour your infectious bile and as you continue to pillage and invade, and our countries bomb,

we will not stoop so low, as you so shamelessly have,

and,

and,

we will not tell you to go back to where you came from.

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* – Source: Wikipedia –

A Bantustan (also known as Bantu homeland, black homeland, black state or simply homeland; Afrikaans: Bantoestan) was a territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid.

Ten Bantustans were established in South Africa, and ten in neighbouring South West Africa (then under South African administration), for the purpose of concentrating the members of designated ethnic groups, thus making each of those territories ethnically homogeneous as the basis for creating “autonomous” nation states for South Africa’s different black ethnic groups.

In terms of the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970, blacks were stripped of their South African citizenship, which deprived of their few remaining political and civil rights in South Africa, and made them citizens of their designated homelands.

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** – Source:
https://www.maropeng.co.za/content/page/about

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The Cradle of Humankind is one of 10 World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng.

It is widely recognised as the place from which all of humankind originated.

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An Immigrant’s Lament

art by banksy

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an immigrants lament

gazing at the sky
i often wonder why,

birds soaring,
high in the open sky,

are free to fly ?

is it that they have wings,

for i too have wings, friend,

so,
i often wonder why,
huddled against desolate sleet,

and,
i often wonder why,
buried under flimsy newspapersheet,

that i too have wings, friend,

i too have wings!

it is just that
my little wings,

are my tired
little feet …

For Nelson “Madiba” Mandela (born 18th July).

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

A man of action, forged in the crucible of resistance.

Resistance against racial discrimination.

Resistance against injustice.

Resistance against oppression.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

A man burnished in the furnace of struggle.

Struggle to defeat the crime against humanity that was Apartheid.

Struggle against the obscene notions of racial superiority.

Struggle against the scourge of hate.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

A human being who personified kindness.

A human being who embodied humility.

A human being who exemplified the unity of our human race.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

A man of peace, and a man who fought the just fight.

A man of forgiveness, yes, but a man who believed in the truth to be brought to light of the complicity of the many who supported the Apartheid regime.

A man of truth, and a man of humane love.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

He was of flesh and of blood, and he shed his blood as he endured the lashes of the whip on his flesh.

He was of flesh and of blood, and he fought ferociously against the suppression of his fellow human beings.

He was of flesh and of blood, and he emerged with dignity from the hell of twenty-seven years of imprisonment on an island of tyranny.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

He was a man of a steely will in the long cause to rid all oppressed people from the yoke of colonialism, he picked up arms and fought the honourable fight.

He was a man of fiery resolve against the scourge of divisiveness, he was at the forefront in the battles against human subjugation and indignity.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

Madiba was a revolutionary, in the trenches against the obscenity of poverty and deprivation.

Madiba was a soldier, on the ground in the service of the most vulnerable, the children of this world.

Madiba was unshakeable, and he lived the example of the committed revolutionary and the dignified statesman.

Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela walked amongst us not long ago.

Our beloved Madiba does not walk amongst us anymore.

And yet, Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela lives within us.

Madiba lives in the streams that flow into the rivers that flow into the oceans.

Madiba lives in the winds that blow across the vast lands of Africa and beyond.

Madiba lives in the thud-thudding of heartbeats around our world.

Madiba lives in the veins where the blood flows through our common human form.

Madiba lives!

Madiba will always live!

a few more days …

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a few more days … … …

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as the branch of the oak sashays,
as a solitary palm undulates, and sways,

i count the days,
till i feel your loving gaze,
your soul, your heart ablaze,

i count the days,
till our separate ways,
dispel the haze,

i count the days,
when seeing you will make my eyes with desire glaze,

i count the days,
mattering not what cards fate plays,

i count the days,
till destiny’s highways,
merge, embracing the sun’s scorching rays,

for as awake this man lays,
the need, the hunger, the desire aching and ravenous, stays,

as i think of you,
counting the days,

until our seduced souls through the night skies blaze,

i count on you,
counting the days,

when the need for each other whisperingly says,

for you, i have crested the waves,

knowing my hunger for you may be a craze,

a craze that shall abide, firmly rooted, in nights and in days,

as i remain still,
counting these remaining moments, for you my being entire craves,

i lie awake,
counting the days,

lying awake, counting these minutes, these days … …

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A L I V E

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alive …

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Lashed against jagged truths,

plumbing the depths of lost emotions,

straining to hear your voice calling me back.

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Aching to taste
your breath scalding my lips,

pining to feel
forgotten whispers murmured,

swirling around
the rapids,

gasping for air,

nursing a simple dream,
nothing grandiose …

to feel
once more –

alive.

alive …

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The Girl in the Scarlet Scarf

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The Girl in the Scarlet Scarf …

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Her scarf was scarlet,
wrapped around her neck to keep the cold at bay,

she had her Rosa Luxemburg book tightly held to her chest,

I smiled at her,
she smiled back.

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We shared laughter and tears,
in that winter long ago,

we held each other close,
baring our scars,

weaving a life ahead for two souls out of time,

and then she was gone,

leaving me with just this paltry rhyme.

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it was as sudden,
as jarring as this scribble,

yet the memory of her scarlet scarf remains etched deep,

yet the dreams of our shared winter visit me often,

in my cold and desolate sleep …

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The Cost of Revolution …

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(in memory of the June 16th 1976 student uprising in South Africa)

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You hurled rocks, stones,
Molotov Cocktails,
Sling-shots against the brutality of racial oppression.

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You fell on the streets of Soweto,
Thokoza,
Kagiso,
Sharpeville,
Tembisa,

and countless more across this nation.

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Tasting the acrid stench of tear-gas,

Feeling the flesh ripped off your bones by their dogs,

Drenched by water-cannons,
Stung by rubber-bullets,
Whipped by sjamboks,
Shot in the head by lead,
Paid for by your country’s gold.

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You stood trial for Treason,
Facing the hangman’s noose,

You stood firm, you did not break,
Even though,
You had wives, sons, daughters, lovers, brothers, sisters, and friends to lose.

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The revolutionary dream burned bright,
In all your hearts,

Even as the jackboot of Apartheid,

Fractured your bones and tore your families into broken and splintered parts.

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You left your brothers,
Sisters,
Sons,
Daughters,
Lovers,
Wives,
Comrades and friends,

Seeking out foreign lands,
With only the ammunition that you held in your hearts, your minds and in your never-wavering hands.

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The enemy did not waver either,

Tyranny didn’t cease.

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2 AM knocks on doors around this land,
Meant to stifle, to intimidate,

Yet,
You took a stand.

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Hungry,
lost far away from home, pining for freedom and your loved ones,

Still,
You stood firm,
You fought on,

“Release Mandela and all Political Prisoners” was your cry,
In capitals in far-off lands,

You feared not the bayonet in the enemy’s hands,

The revolution was burning bright,

Even as the dawn of Freedom was in sight.

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Finally on a February day,
They released him and the joy was palpable, nothing stood now in the revolution’s way.

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All the while,
The enemy consolidated its power,

Paying off traitors,

Seeding violence,

Orchestrating mayhem to taint the noble cause,

And still you took the tyrant’s rifles and clenched their muzzles in-between your brave jaws.

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Never standing down,
Backing away,
Retreating to safe space,
The fire of revolution burned,
Spreading through the plateaus and valleys and townships and cities and villages in this pained land,

And still,

Still,
You held that Kalashnikov in your hand.

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And when that day of freedom came,

You felt the stirrings of joy and pain and yes,
Of shame.

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You felt the shame of leaving those you left behind,

You tasted again the pain,
Of economic hardships,
Of capitalism and its illusory promise,
Of a revolution left incomplete,

Till,
Every man, woman and child has enough to eat.

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A revolution still incomplete,
Where hunger stalks the night,
Where mercy,
And comradely solidarity,
Left last night on a first-class flight.

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You stand tall still,
Working as you always have,

Polishing the metal chariots of those you once bled for,

Still feeling the injustice,
Of not having the two cents more,

That deprives you of your daily bread,

And you try hard to remember,

Whether this is the revolution,

For which so many died,

The countless whose names remain unsaid,

The brothers and sister,
mothers and fathers,
Lovers and friends,

the martyred dead.

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(dedicated to all South Africans who sacrificed their lives, their families, in pursuit of the revolutionary dream. A dream that remains a dream to many, and a dream that will continue to be dreamed)

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D-Day: France, June 6th, 1944.

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1.

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They were thrashed by the merciless sea.

They were drenched by the savage waters, their uniforms clinging to their shivering bodies.

They were mowed down as they approached the beaches of death.

The beaches of unspeakable horrors.

Gold.

Omaha.

Juno.

Sword.

Utah.

They were brothers and fathers and sons and friends and cousins and nephews and grandchildren and boys and men.

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2.

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They surged on, facing the metallic death of Nazism and Fascism,

they surged on and were cut into pieces of bloodied flesh and shattered bone,

yet they surged on.

They surged on so that we may live.

They surged on so that we may breathe the air of peace.

They surged on and on,

and on.

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3.

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Today their bones lie buried, along rows of crosses.

Today they lie beneath this earth.

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4.

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Today they live.

Tomorrow they shall live.

They who sacrificed their lives for humanity.

They shall live on eternally,

within us all!

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seeds

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seeds …

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swept up
by the dust

scattered remnants
of lives once whole

now
buried
interred

in cold dead dry ground.

seeds
swept up
by the dust

seeking a glimmer

of hope
of the promise

of
a better tomorrow.

seeds
swept up
by the dust

sinking roots
hoping to belong

somewhere
anywhere

fatigued
spent

waiting
hoping

for days
moments
tomorrows

a
time

a
place

where one
need not

be
ever smiling

and to be
always strong …

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Why I support Liverpool Football Club …

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1. Bill Shankly and the socialist ideal.

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2. John Lennon.

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3. Roger Waters.

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oft-repeated hope

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talkin’ why hope is important bluesy-blues …

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this scribble is about hope, that unweighable weighty word, often bandied about ritually, and thus its message, its voice, may be blunted by repetitive bluster, so i’ll be a-scribblin’ along, with all the gusto i may muster, since we’re talking about hope, without which the human race, us all, all of us, i dare say, would not cope, ’cause imagine an absence of something, can’t put your finger on that feeling feeling, that oftentimes rocks at our souls, leavin’ our minds reelin’, yeah that’s right, but no propagandising today, though with me, at least, i can truly say, were it not for hope, that figment, blister on indifferent fates’ machinations, that belief, that burning in the pit of ones core, gnawing, gnashed teeth muttering, that all this pain too must eventually, pale, and that’s whats a-sometime the reason for us being heartful, and or hale, its hope, raw, deceptive, lyin’, corrosive, rusted but a-shineyed up, yeah that hope that keeps my heart pumping, its that hope that keeps me alive, and its that hope upon which, may all new flowers thrive …

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She who is Free …

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she who is free …

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I would have called out to her, across the the green fields she walked,

her silhouette fading in the distance.

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I would have called out to her,

she who walked her own path now,

free from all the weight that caged her will.

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I would have called out to her,

yet I remained still.

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Less lonely

art from google

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Less lonely …

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Walking through this void, this callous vacuum of life,

feeling the splintered sleet pummelling me, each fracture a slow twisting of the knife.

Walking through this shell, this indifferent chasm of loneliness,

all that I wish for,
all that yearn for,
all that I desire,

is to be less lonely.

Just less lonely.

art from google

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The following inspiring and deeply moving poem is written by Yugesh Pillay, the son of dear family friends.

Yugesh’s father, Dr. Souri Pillay, who sadly is no longer with us, was deeply rooted in the struggle against Apartheid tyranny, and ‘Uncle Souri’ as I knew him was a rare and principled human being who always put the needs of the many ahead of everything else.

A close comrade and brother and friend of my father, uncle Souri was one of those humane human beings for whom the values of internationalism and the struggles for human dignity and emancipation raced through his veins.

Uncle Souri sought no fame, no personal enrichment – a true revolutionary and comrade if ever there was one.

We lost a giant pillar in the history of our country when uncle Souri passed on, but we are and shall always be guided by his indomitable spirit and the values and principles and ideals which we were so fortunate to have had imparted to us through his actions and love and spirit of non-racialism that we cannot and must never forget.

Viva the undying spirit of Comrade Souri Pillay!

Viva the memory of a true son of the soil!

You may not walk with us, respected and beloved uncle Souri, but you live within us through your warmth and kindness and steadfast principles and ideals for a better, more just and less cruel world for all.

We miss you, and always will.

It is an honour and a privilege to share the following poem by Yugesh Pillay, the son of respected Comrade Souri Pillay.

Amandla! Awethu!

The Struggle Continues!

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In Memory of Tata Madiba.

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Tears are not Enough,

Do not shed tears of Sadness
Shed tears of Gratitude and Love

For without our Father
Africa would be a dark place

Thank You for being Our Light
to Guide us Through the darkness

Showing us that Forgiveness Dissolves Hate
And Love Frees All Souls

Darkness has no form or substance
It is only the absence of Light

Only through Our Light
Can the darkness Dissolve

Only through Our Action
Can Freedom be More than an Ideal

Let Us not allow Our Father’s Light to dim
We Will not allow His Legacy to burn low

Arm Yourself with Forgiveness and Love
Fight with Valour and Resolve

Come Together!
Stand Up!
Shine Brighter in Honour of Africa’s Greatest Sun!

Do not shed tears with idle hands

Africa is not free Yet…

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________________

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Yugesh Pillay
A Son of Africa

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Freedom – The Unfinished Dream.

The shackles have been cast off.

The chains broken.

A people once squashed,

under the jackboot of Apartheid,

are free.

Free at last!

Freedom came on the 27th day in that April of 1994.

Freedom from prejudice.

From institutionalized racism.

From being relegated to second-class citizens.

Freedom came and we danced.

We cried.

We ululated as we elected

our revered Mandela.

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our very own beloved ‘Madiba’.

Black and white and brown and those in-between.

The many hues of this nation,

rejoiced as we breathed in the air of freedom and democracy.

Today we pause.

We remember.

We salute.

The brave ones whose sacrifices made this day possible,

on that 27th day of April,

24 years ago.

Today we may dance.

We sing.

We ululate!

We cry.

Tears of joy and tears of loss.

Of remembrance and of forgiveness.

Of yet to be realised reconciliation and of the ghastly memories that still torment us.

Today we pause.

We acknowledge the tasks ahead.

The hungry.

The naked.

The destitute.

Today we reaffirm,

that promise of freedom.

From want.

From hunger.

From eyes without promise.

Today we reflect.

On unfulfilled promises.

On the proliferation of greed.

On the blurring of the ideals of freedom.

Today we say:

We will take back the dream.

We will renew the promise.

We will not turn away.

Today we pledge:

To stand firm.

To keep the pressure on.

To remind those in the corridors of power,

that we the people still need to savour the fruits of the tree of freedom*.

And till that time,

when all shall share in the bounty of democracy,

We shall remain vigilant,

and strong.

And we shall continue,

to struggle.

And to shout out loud,

“Amandla – Awethu!”**

________________

* – final words of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu before he has executed by the Apartheid regime in 1979

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight”.

** – “Amandla – Awethu” means “Power to the People, and was a rallying slogan during the struggle against Apartheid.

Untitled

Untitled.

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At times, feelings slice through moments –

days.

Weeks. Months.

At times, a saw shredding all seasons –

winter.

Spring. Autumn.

At times, feelings splinter, embedding a slow agonising pain,

beneath the skin, cleaving the gasps between breaths into ever shorter ones,

leeching off swirling thoughts,

slipping through the gutter,

only to disappear –

in smokey tendrils of despair,
in hazy filaments of blinding tears,

knotted in the ropes of unmentioned fears,

as the inevitability of another day, another week, another month,

like sandpaper,

nears.

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walking …

from google

The Judging of Nelson Mandela.

1.

“It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”, said the resolute prisoner in the dock.

He stood firm in his revolutionary convictions, potentially facing the gallows of Apartheid tyranny.

The prisoner and his comrades were sentenced to life imprisonment on an island of shame, and Robben Island was it’s name.

They endured the hell of Apartheid’s abyss for 27 long years.

2.

Nelson Mandela walked free on that early February day in 1990.

His years of incarceration did not dilute his revolutionary ideals.

His beloved organisation, the African National Congress with him at the helm, now dealt with an enemy hell-bent of sowing the seeds of mayhem in a country on the precipice.

He stood resolute.
He stood principled.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades negotiated the path ahead, which realised the objectives of a free and non-racial and democratic South Africa.

Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress had to make many compromises, in the quid pro quo of negotiating with an enemy busy in the process of fomenting a civil war.

This did not make Madiba a sell-out.

This did not render him toothless.

This did not mean he had capitulated on his revolutionary ideals.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades faced a stark reality – a negotiated peaceful settlement with the Apartheid state or the prospect of further bloodshed and the implosion of South Africa, sinking into the horror of civil-war.

This did not render him impotent.

This did not dilute his revolutionary fire.

3.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades realised that the white minority regime would not simply relinquish power.

The Apartheid state was already actively engaged in the stoking of wanton acts of violence in order to derail the process of transforming South Africa into a democratic country where all human beings regardless of race would be granted the right to vote and to be no longer relegated to second class citizens in the land of their ancestors.

There were difficult compromises to be made, and there were bitter pills that had to be swallowed.

The enemy would not simply give up the privileges of the white minority without a fight.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades understood that reality.

The cold harsh reality of facing a protracted war of attrition or the birth of a new democratic South Africa from the clutches of Apartheid hegemony.

4.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades in the African National Congress made the hard choices.

They laid to rest the prospect of a civil war, while making gut-wrenching decisions in order to achieve the first goal of bringing to fruition a free and democratic South Africa.

Many were displeased.
Many were embittered.

Many thought this the abandoning of the true principles of the struggle.

They were not all wrong.

They had good reason to believe that far too many concessions were made.

They who fought on the frontlines were not being unreasonable.

They faced Apartheid’s bullets and truncheons and torture for years.

Yet Nelson Mandela did not shut them out, but brought them in and invited them to be a part of the hard work that lay ahead in the creation of a new democratic country.

5.

Today, we look back.

Today, we judge Nelson Mandela and his comrades for a “revolution denied”.

Today, with the hindsight of history, we damn the negotiated settlement.

Today, the failures of the democratic governments that have followed Nelson Mandela’s one term as President, are coldly and conveniently laid at the feet of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela did not crave power nor status. President Nelson Mandela was a human being, a man of flesh and of blood, with his share of faults.

Nelson Mandela never shied away from acknowledging his faults.

6.

Today we dismiss Nelson Mandela as one who sold out the revolution.

Today we condemn Nelson Mandela for the greed and corruption that keeps millions in poverty and the majority of the population who have no access to dignified health care and education and housing and employment.

Today we judge Nelson Mandela as the one who watered down every ideal and principle of the struggle for freedom and for human emancipation.

7.

Nelson Mandela stepped down as President in 1999 after serving one term in office.

Today we are in 2018.

How convenient to subtly paint Nelson Mandela as the one who sowed the seeds of all that is wrong in our country today.

8.

How very convenient.

9.

Nelson Mandela was not the prisoner-set-free to to assume the Presidency of the African National Congress and rule by dictatorial edicts and by personal decree.

The African National Congress and its National Executive Committee (NEC), the ANC’s Armed Wing Umkhonto-we-Sizwe (MK), as well the ANC’s Tripartite Alliance partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) played an integral part in the negotiated settlement that resulted from the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA).

Leaders and political activists like Walter Sisulu, Chris Hani, Joe Slovo, Cyril Ramaphosa, Jacob Zuma, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and many other individuals who spent years in Apartheid prisons and in exile were part of the decision making process.

To hold Nelson Mandela solely responsible for the negotiated settlement that led to the creation of a democratic South Africa in 1994 is both disingenuous and ignores historical facts.

The African National Congress structures on the ground were part of often heated debates as Nelson Mandela and his comrades navigated the treacherous waters of negotiating with a government that was in power and had the army at its disposal and was conducting bloody covert operations in order to derail the efforts to reach a peaceful solution for the dissolution of Apartheid and the birth of a new South African nation.

If Nelson Mandela is to be regarded as a ‘sell-out’, then he cannot be judged alone for the failures of successive ANC governments from 1999 to 2018.

It is a simplistic reading of history to come to the conclusion that Nelson Mandela stood alone as a “sell-out” while once again conveniently ignoring the many other factors that played a part in the transition of South Africa from a racist, tyrannical state to a free and democratic new nation.

10.

Once again, how very convenient.

from google

H O P E

Quote from Google





H O P E …





In these times,
when you feel the walls closing in on you,

in these times,
when you feel the world to be hypocritically untrue,

in these times,
when you feel all your lifeblood being sucked out of you.


In these times,
when people seem shallow, heartless too,

in these times,
when you feel yourself a bystander in your own life, not having a clue,

in these times,
when every breath seems a mammoth task, when the air seems sucked out too.


These are those times when nothing offers peace,

when no solace can be found,

when all you feel is dragging yourself along the tear stained ground,

these are those times,
when asphyxiation threatens your soul,

when you scream with all your might, without hearing a sound,

these are those times,
when the world is a blurry haze, with a rancid stench that keeps jabbing you on the rebound.


It is in these moments,
when all hope disappears,

when all is lost in trepidation and gnawing fears,

it is in these moments,
when you plumb the depths of your soul,

when you beseech the Gods above even as your faith may have taken a toll,

it is in these moments,

that you fight to smash the shackles, so you may be free,

it is in these moments,

that we wish to simply,

be …



Artwork from Google



For Scully, my beloved cat …


Scully, the avid reader 🤗



The Saga of Romeo and Juliet on Valentines Day …







that day of the year once more

the zombie-apocalypse-horde descend

foaming through aisles in this-or-that store.

they seek, perhaps, absolution for ‘that one time’ and, of course ‘those’ other times before

when you felt the splintering of your very core

while he mumbled apologies that sliced through your bone | your flesh like a saw

so, yes, it is ‘that’ day of the year once more

the cat’s night to sashay through the front door

knowing only too well she’ll find me right here looking the grumpy old bored boar

and now look who’s purrring like 1-coolcat flopsilly sinking to her majesterial floor

“oh please not the ‘I’m really not into valentines day blah de blah’, you old boar!”

that unwipeawayable smile seems to say

“who loves kitty hmm who loves kitty”

by then as was with the Borg

resistance is futile

so you flopsilly flop down next to her

and as she permits you to you to brush the now “greying-cos’ of oldage” lil’ hairs under her teensy furrry chin

you begin to hum a tune,

‘Romeo & Juliet’ oh yes that 80’s Dire Straits song …

“… and he says …

‘you & me, babe …

how ‘about it …”





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxfjSnMN88U

“Romeo & Juliet”

Written by Mark Knopfler

From the Dire Straits’ studio album ‘Making Movies’

Released on 17 October 1980

Lyrics

“… A lovestruck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made
Finds a streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it?

Juliet says hey it’s Romeo you nearly gimme me a heart attack
He’s underneath the window she’s singing hey la my boyfriend’s back
You shouldn’t come around here singing up at people like that
Anyway what you gonna do about it?

Juliet the dice were loaded from the start
And I bet and you exploded in my heart
And I forget I forget the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?

Come up on different streets they both were streets of shame
Both dirty both mean yes and the dream was just the same
And I dreamed your dream for you and now your dream is real
How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?

Well you can fall for chains of silver you can fall for chains of gold
You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold
You promised me everything you promised me thick and thin, yeah
Now you just say oh Romeo yeah you know I used to have a scene with him

Juliet when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above I’ll love you till I die
There’s a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

I can’t do the talk like they talk on TV
And I can’t do a love song like the way it’s meant to be
I can’t do everything but I’d do anything for you
I can’t do anything except be in love with you

And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be
All I do is keep the beat and bad company
All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme
Julie I’d do the stars with you any time

Juliet when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above I’ll love you till I die
There’s a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

A lovestruck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it? …”

you good people have yourselves a special valentines day too!

Scully whacking me at chess 😊

quote from google





the corrosive concept that “fair is lovely and thin is best” …





fair is bland,

fair is a void,


of all the glorious colours of the rainbow devoid.




fair is lovely,

fair is insipid,


absent of flavour, lukewarm and tepid.




fair is lovely,

fair is cruel,


a self esteem-draining weapon wielded, from the corridors of corporations to the hallways of school.




fair is lovely,

fair is vile,


polluting minds with notions of white supremacy, sowing the seeds that the other is inferior, meant only to revile.




fair is lovely,

fair is an infection,


a fast spreading disease of the mind, rejecting all children of god, or to consign to the trashcan, the science of natural selection.




thin is beautiful,

skinny is best,


leaving the rest of real human beings to question themselves, and diet and starve themselves and imbibe pills and all the rest.




fair is lovely,

fair is a dagger,


plunged deep into the hearts of people everywhere, to breed the grotesque spawn of racial superiority, while intoxicated on that bullshit, the racists rant and blabber and swagger.




fair and thin is lovely ?


no, the kaleidoscope of humans of all hues and of all sizes is lovely.






NO TO RACIST DEMEANING OF PEOPLE !

NO TO BODY-SHAMING !


artwork from google




too idealistic ?

Quote from Google







too idealistic ?






in this world so harsh and stark,


may we be the spark that dispels the dark.



may we hold onto each other in a warm embrace,


regardless of colour, creed, gender, or race.



may we accept that we sip from a single pond,



may we acknowledge that the spirit of uBuntu* envelopes us – in a unifying bond.



may we cherish this bounteous earth, our only home, with respect and kindness,


may we open our eyes, and resist greed-filled corporate, personal, and governmental blindness.



may we love all, irrespective of who they choose to love, gay or straight,


may we accept that ignorance breeds hate, so may we banish those forces, baying at the gate.



may we teach our young that the objectification of women is not right,


may we strive to make every night, an abuse-free night.



may we face all forms of prejudice with a united stand,


may we find renewed strength by clasping a strangers hand.



may we realise that there is no place, on this planet, for poverty, hunger, and human despair,


may we appreciate that this world has enough for all, to from the communal orchards share.



may we start by introspection, by tearing off the blinkers of denial,


may we pursue to change that which is callous within us, even though that may be our hardest, personal trial.



may we tear down the walls that are built to divide,


may we emerge into the open fresh air,


with no longer the need to hide …








* – ‘uBuntuis an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity” – I am because we are.








Quote from Google

Artwork from Google







The Tears of Mother Earth …




Mother Earth weeps, her cries silenced, by the clinking of champagne flutes, as yet again, men myopic with greed carve out plans to plunder her more.




how much more shall you take, she moans, while men with noxious lust whoop with joy, their greed tainted with blinkers, knowingly stripping her further, in a blinded frenzy of self-serving savagery.




Mother Earth is ill, diseased by the ceaseless pillaging, by us, her children, siphoning more and more, till heaven knows when, she shall be hollow to the core.




are we so blinded, are we so callous, are we so lost in our glazed orgy, to hack away her dignity, her bounteous nurturing spirit, her selfless giving of herself, to let her children, us all, to eat, to be healthy, to live, to breathe in the freshest air and to bathe in the most pristine rivulets, flowing through her very veins and arteries, those very arteries and veins which we slice and dice each day.




our Mother calls to us, beseeching us, asking only how much more can she be expected to give, how much more are we going to take.




her wheezing spasms are felt by us all, her pleading for help resounds, as we chip away at her lungs, poison her waters, belch bile into her air, continually desecrating our shared commons.




our Mother is as mortal as you and i, for she too bleeds, for she too chokes, for she too lies weakened, ill after being brutalised by her very own.




as we avert our unseeing eyes, our deafened ears to her simple needs, we turn our backs to her, refusing to acknowledge her consistent gifts to us all, epoch upon epoch, millennia upon millennia.




as we avert our complicit gaze, we stand indicted, we stand forewarned, that her bounty is finite, for if we plunder evermore, she too shall be forced onto her knees, exhausted by her persistent and consistent motherliness, for she too can give only so much, for she too is aging and in need of tending, for she too is mortal.




and when that time comes, as it does to all that is mortal, that she fades and slips away, it shall be us, her very children, consciously and with savage intent, who rained down suffering on her, our Mother, till she said in a hushed whisper:




I am famished.

I have nothing left to give.





farewell, my children …




Artwork from Google

Artwork from Google





you have the largest part of my miniscule heart …




you smashed everything apart,

your light shone so bright,


you lost me from the start,

yet, and still,

you breathe within me as i trudge through another day and as another night readies itself to depart,

your light shines so bright,

deep in the creased corridors of my fate,

for you have the largest part of my miniscule heart …








Artwork from Google










astrophysics, astronomy, and love …




she smiled, she looked at me, incredulous, her jaw dropped,


” how on earth can you be so sure about that ? “


well i had to explain, because motion at this velocity cannot be simply stopped,


so i thought, this was the bloke who sported mops of hair, yet couldn’t do without close shaves,


so i said to her, i said,


” gravitational waves “






          ____________________



Gravitational waves are disturbances in the curvature of spacetime, generated by accelerated masses, that propagate as waves outward from their source at the speed of light. 


source: Wikipedia

Artwork from Google







letting go …





scratching

at wounds


picking

scabs


unleashing pain


twisting knives

turning effortlessly


amid the cacophonous romp

of highfives …



letting go

of

scraped souls


eroded

by

dishevelled dignity


stung

wrung

strung


and

hung


to dispel quaint smiles


perfected over a million wounded miles


shattering consciensces

along the way


blinding

blinkering

rose-tinted phantasy

day to groteque day


clogging vision

hazing eyes


tugging

pulling

tearing

down

curtains


leaving eyes

blinded

blinkered


unseeing

unfeeling …



while broken stems

mend gently


elsewhere


plucked

along strings


strings

strung

and

strummed


igniting

numbed senses


sublime flavours

on clouds of

touch

taste


melding

fusing


myriad dreams

into

dreadlocked hopes


entwined

intertwined


knowing the paths ahead

to be

far from kind


still

setting forth


yet

moving


ever moving

forward onward


hearts ablaze

hopeful


letting go

of it all


leaving it all

far far behind …






Artwork from Google

A Baobab Tree – Artwork from Google





as we walk …




though today we tread on broken glass,


our time shall come to pass,


when we may walk past the travails we seem to amass, 


and beyond the splinters of all that is crass …




A Baobab Tree – artwork from google

Artwork from Google





dawn breaking …




dawn breaking




1.



willowy brushstrokes,

conjured sketches,


painted,

etched,

embossed,


hewn between forgotten morns,


waking,

splintering,

straining, against each other,


ceaseless,

relentless,

endless,


empty,

a vacuum,


an abyss of night.




2.



still,

hope blazes,


bright,

radiant,

smiling,


though measured,

disciplined,


while embracing,

enveloping,


and always

surrendering to the eternal promise,


raging,

hungering,

aching,



the promise of a new dawn breaking



Artwork from Google

tread lightly

from Google





tread lightly …





Tread lightly, for many hearts lay strewn upon these roads,


alone, their plaintive calls heard by none,


just the birds whose doleful odes sing out in the dawn skies.




The world sleeps, the daily grind yet to begin,


when polished shoes shall trample those lonesome hearts,


that lay on roads where garbage trucks rid the new day of yesterday’s memories,


where leaves and crushed petals are swept aside,


and tattered hearts, alone again, creep into corners to hide


 



from Google



Dr. Carl Sagan 1934 – 1996





moonbeams …




struck by moonbeams,

my nights devoid of lifes nectar, hope, dreams,


are at once, emblazoned,

awash in the hues of your smile,


sketched, engraved,

carved, painted in the rainbow shades of your eyes,


your eyes, free,

unfettered, unshackled,

shedding the burdensome weight of lies,


knowing well how mercilessly fickle time flies.,


so allow me to drown,

in the ocean of your eyes,


we’ll fly together,

away from it all,


into your dreamy skies …




Quote from Google

Artwork by Banksy





h o m e . . .





what is home to the vagabond soul,

                   spiralling,

                   splintering,


                   skewered,

                   unwhole.




plodding along,

                 paths of

              broken glass,



comforting,

                   cajoling,

                   assuring

             my tattered soul:


that these desolate moments,

                

                  must


                  also

            

                  pass





Artwork from Google

in these times

Artwork from Google






in these times …




In these times,

when you feel the walls closing in on you,


in these times,

when you feel the world to be hypocritically untrue,


in these times,

when you feel all your lifeblood being sucked out of you.





In these times,

when people seem shallow, heartless too,


in these times,

when you feel yourself a bystander in your own life, not having a clue,


in these times,

when every breath seems a mammoth task, when the air seems sucked out too.




These are those times when nothing offers peace,


when no solace can be found,


when all you feel is dragging yourself along the tear stained ground,


these are those times,

when asphyxiation threatens your soul,


when you scream with all your might, without hearing a sound,


these are those times,

when the world is a blurry haze, with a rancid stench that keeps jabbing you on the rebound.




It is in these moments,

when all hope disappears,


when all is lost in trepidation and gnawing fears,


it is in these moments,

when you plumb the depths of your soul,


when you beseech the Gods above even as your faith may have taken a toll,


it is in these moments,


that you fight to smash the shackles, so you may be free,


it is in these moments,


that we wish to simply,


be …





Artwork from Google

cellophane skies

Artwork from Google




cellophane skies …



 

when cellophane skies fall


swirling down


settling gently

on marshmallow clouds


of chocolate whispers


velveteen murmurs

form crisp peppermint kisses


hazelnutty dreams still burn bright


and

the feeling


feeling roars and rages


and so

may it rage forever on



through rough oncoming tides


always


through ensuing epochs and ages …




Artwork from Google

t h r e a d s