Tag Archive: tomorrow

talkin’ midnight ravings blues …

“I am fine”

no i am not fine,

i am as fine as a dung dusted shoe is from a shine,

i am not fine, i am lost, between alluring dreams, and silent screams,

sometimes a duet,

mostly a cacophony of noise,

white and bland and dull,

just enough to discern, that humanity is null,

with all humaneness void,

and of all conscience devoid.

Sapphire Sky

in the distance
flickering softly,

warm hope

bathing this
soft morning


whispering tales of journeys done,

beneath the canopy
of our shared

sapphire sky.

She who is free.

she who is free …

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

her silhouette fading in the distance.

I would have called out to her,

she who walked her own path now,

free from all the weight that caged her will.

I would have called out to her,

yet I remained still.

the stream of life …

the meandering stream of our lives, hopping over smooth pebbles, jarred by jagged rocks, swirling down maelstroms, surfacing in placid waters, washing up all our carried detritus on tiny islands of hope, coursing through the rapids of fate, just as life races on, a perpetual journey wrestling the still waters where hope itself, seemingly lies in state.

our lives, the daily grind, the cacophony of the banal, remains afloat, seeking solace in between crevasses, welcoming the temporary respite from the incessantly onward flow, stripping our skin bare, raw wounds inflicted by the flotsam and jetsam of these travels, the travails of the many masks we wear, seeking respite in the promise of an endless sea, always just around the corner, where for once, we may moult our broken skin, and where for once, we may just be.

the rising and ebbing of the tides, leave us gasping for breath, a seemingly endless cycle of the distant beacon of joy, only to be blinded by the silt, as the stream rolls on obliviously, leaving us gasping for breath, a twig snapped in two, while destiny offers us the mirage of a peaceful shore, only to be struck by the truth, the tired realisation that the stream rolls on, evermore.

we are torn apart by the ceaseless wear and tear, the infinite tears lost in the deluge, our fleeting laughs, our vanishing smiles, being pounded against the silence of the shallows, with hope a seductive vision, prodding us to go on,

to not sink in the greying depths of despair,

while we continually fall for the falseness of the charade,

grasping for just another breath of life affirming air.

our shared strands

our shared strands
of light, of hope.

afloat on tendrils of starstuff,

whispering warmth,

hope may be found.

sketching memories,
painting tears,

falling like leaves,

etching reminders
of less warm times,

hope may be found.

time tenderly
infuses hope,

urging me,

and you, us all,
to embrace,

the here, today,

the now,

for hope may be found,


My mum with Comrade Nelson Mandela’s mother protesting against the imprisonment of my father and Comrade Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s

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 )


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.


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


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.


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.


The names of the martyrs bear witness:

Solomon Mahlangu.
Bhagat Singh.
Ahmed Timol.
Vuyisile Mini.
Prakash Napier
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.


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.


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 nunis 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.


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

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

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 )

My mother with Comrade Nelson Mandela in Stockholm 1990

Johannesburg Blues.

Walking in this city of diamonds,
gold deep beneath my feet,

sleeping under her rainy skies,
embracing my newspaper sheet.

I had a life long ago, a woman too,
now I’m just a huddle of rags,

while the women walk past
never reaching into their Gucci bags.

She left me, or I left myself,
on these bleak Jo’burg roads,

searching for that fix at these desolate crossroads.

Now I stand alone,
these empty streets my bed,

my blood soaking the earth
with drops of beaten red.

So I wish you well, friends,
I wish you gold dust amidst the fray,

all of you who walk on and away,

leaving me to beg or borrow,
to get through another Jo’burg day.

Struggle, Exile & Love” by Afzal Moolla published by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.


Foreword to my book by South African National Poet Laureate Comrade Mongane Wally Serote.

Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate.

Afzal Moolla-The Poet.

Afzal Moolla is a South African poet. He is a prolific poet. He grew up in a family, which, for the longest of time, was part and parcel of the liberation struggle in South Africa. That is to say, he grew up in a family of freedom fighters. 

You can imagine what he had to listen to at an early age. He absorbed it all.  His folks are elderly now. 

“…These were the early 1970s, and this story was told to me by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father, Moosa “Mosie” Moolla was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous Treason Trial of 1956…”

 He is young, living in a country which emerged from the depth of one of the most cruel political systems ever imagined by human beings. Nothing will allow Afzal to forget that, even as he may have been a toddler when that system was at its most vicious. 

And now at his adult life, some among us, seek to destroy a dream of the people. We must scrutinize what this poet says about those who do that: who are they if face to face with OR, Madiba, Che, Fidel… that they can ony be traitors.

As we read what Afzal says, we will also be engulfed by a progressive and humane attitude of human life. Afzal is of Indian origin, a South African, whose young mind was shaped by a people who had to strife with everything possible to be human.

The combination of poetry and prose in Afzal’s rendition, walks one in very rough terrain, not sparing one. He calls all this, his work:


“…As we walked through the tombstones of the war soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained how apartheid was a scourge like Fascism and Nazism. He explained how the world had joined forces to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and why we too had to fight against apartheid….”

Even when the worst of things are explored in this work, the optimism of the spirit from the poet, is still the basis to seek hope; to search for a way out of pessimism. A rare skill indeed.  He can express anger, or despair, even cynicism, as also he seeks an anchor in the strength which resides in the hearts of human beings. And therefore Afzal, refuses to let go of the humaneness of human beings. 

He then braves the challenge by referencing the reality of the beings of struggle as the names of the freedom fighters spread throughout the pages which carry the weight of his writing.

There is too much pain in Afzals work, but equally there is love, there is joy and as said there is hope. Afzal is a skilled artisan of things made of words that is, of things which become the writing on the wall: a history, a culture tempered in the freedom struggle.



in the debris of the past,

scraps of casually discarded emotion.


in hastily trashed yesterdays,

an inkling of moments flung away.


in heaps of rubbished words,

that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.


in the layers of moulted skin

the wilting self that once was true.


in the reflections between the ripples,

for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.


in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,

an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.


There is no letting go here. Life is pursued relentlessly, with the knowledge that life itself is a struggle for life and living; but also, knowing from having lived in struggle and among freedom fighters that there is no alternative to freedom. That want and that knowledge is insatiable; it is only satisfied by the reality of the manifestation of the spirit, meaning, everything which is liveable and defining being free.

(About Timol-a name we know because its reality teaches about the extremes of human cruelty, but also about utter commitment to that unbreakable particle of the human spirit which forever defines, and forever seeks freedom. )

today their lies have been consigned to the dirt.

They tried to murder an ideal,

the revolutionary spirit that burned bright in your heart,

they tried to silence you, not knowing your memory shall never depart.

They tried to kill you,

but they will never silence you,

for you live,

through the expanse of our land,

mingling in the rivers,

standing high upon our shared revolutionary hill,

they tried to silence you,

yet the hunger for justice will never be still,

they tried to silence you, but the memory of your martyrdom never will.


March 21, 1960 – Sharpeville

They shot you in the back.

The oppressors lead tearing into muscled flesh. The flesh of Africa.

They massacred you in Sharpeville, in Soweto.

Today we remember you.

We salute you…

There is an isiZulu saying which rings of finality in its utterance, expression and thirst for freedom: si dela nina e ni lele (we envy you who have fallen). It is a battle cry. It is an expression of love and hope. It is a yearning which is insatiable which knows and aligns with the purpose of life that living life is a definition of Freedom. When Afzal names the freedom fighters, and as a series ofthese names emerge and spread throughout his poetry, it conjures that feelingandthat understanding.

That is what defines Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

They silenced you, yet your dream

resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.


The Wind Carries his Name

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,

the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,

high above the stubborn peaks,

over the blood-soaked streams,

the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,

to you and to me,

to them and to us.

They shot him down,

but his name resounds,

as it floats on the breeze.


still they try to shoot him down,

to silence us all,

to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,

and the wind carries his name:


Afzal is here, with that ‘…they…”  referring to the international oligarchy, that “ …small group of people,,,”, who with mighty force control everything at all cost, against billions of people, indeed against humanity, who now, as Afzal warns us are pushing all of humanity to the precipice of a final and last war, if there are no thousands upon thousands of “Che(s)” who must emerge to stop them.

The world, humanity is once more, as the saying goes, that “…history repeats itself…”  faced by a great possibility of an international arms race. The oligarchy’s objective: to amass all the resources of the earth for the “…small group of people…” They are relentless.

Afzal’s work of poetry traverses human feelings fearlessly.  He is the child of Freedom. He is the adult nurtured by a series of names of people who carried the blood that has been spilled, whether in the street, or in the veld, or in the houses, on the bed or finally ill of health and having to bid a frail life farewell-nevertheless, life which sought to express the will of millions who have been trampled upon by the international oligarchy, “…a small group of people…” who will stop at nothing to burn the world and is content, turning it into ashes.

Afzal keeps “…Searching…” because he was brought up and grew up in the struggle for freedom. He searches, seeking to find  that particle, which no one can break because it resides in spirit-it knows peace, it knows being secure,  it knows the meaning of freedom. It is profound in it being simple. 

To OR: Afzal says:

And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you!

You who fought at home and you who left to fight. 

To his mother, who is an experience and  voice of many women in South Africa, on Our Continent, and of the world; Victims of the powerful “…small group of people…” in the world, who tear it apart.

For our Mother, Zubeida Moolla (1934 – 2008)

She left us,

with the thoughts of her embrace to warm us,

in frigid mornings of tomorrows yet to come.

She left us,

with words of tender truths to shroud us,

in the coming evenings of slicing sleet.

She left us,

yet she stays within us,

in our waking dreams, our restful thoughts.

She stays within us,

and of us she shall remain an abiding part,

of the love,

the pain,

the tears,

and for that, we shall never be truly apart.

What all of these words say, which Afzal has crafted, which we dare not forget, is that we as South Africans, as Africans come from a poetic place, as do all of humanity who come from a “…Paean…” a ululation and praise of the relentless freedom fighters.

Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

South African National Poet Laureate. 

January 2020


My deepest gratitude to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation for this distinct honour they have bestowed upon me by choosing to publish my scribbles of poetry and of verse.

Immense thanks to Dr. Ismail Vadi for his tireless efforts editing and taking on this labour of love from inception to completion.

My heartfelt appreciation and thanks to family, comrades and friends and all here on WordPress for being so kind and warm to me always.

This book would not have been possible without my “WordPress family” and the though we may not “know” each other we are connected by the common thread of humanity that binds us.

Thank you all!


Afzal Moolla
February 2021

H O P E  for a New Year 2021 …

May we be gentler, softer and generous in spirit,

may we raise our voices against injustice whenever and wherever we see it,

may we treasure the love of family and of friends,

may we not be suckered into the million and one new trends,

may we speak truth to power in this world that is veering to the ominous right,

may we hold on to our basic humane principles strong and tight,

may we embrace the other without being bombarded by politicians’ peddling fear,

may we realise that all races and religions and genders belong equally on this earth so dear,

may we struggle for mother earth and may we heed her cries,

may we realise that without her everything dies,

may we continue to stand and fight for gender-rights and equality and justice and peace and hope and dignity for all,

may we be more willing to lend a hand to those who slip and fall.

May we finally realise that all the blood that has been callously shed –

is of one colour,

for we all bleed red …

Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm.

Love is not swallowing what society wishes to us feed, love is wanting each other and not the illusions of material greed.

Love is knowing that the skin will age and wrinkle, love is knowing that the celestial star of togetherness will never cease to twinkle.

Love is knowing there exist no pristine hearts or souls, for we are all far from commercialised perfection, love is acknowledging this truth always, in our moments of quiet reflection.

Love is truly and deeply loving each other, warts and all, love is kneeling down to lift each other up whenever we slip, whenever we fall.

Love is never thrusting ones beliefs unto each other, love is appreciating and embracing the differences between one another.

Love is not being constrained by race, religion, nationality, caste or tribe, love is knowing we all bleed red, and from a common fountain we all do lifes’ waters imbibe.

Love is honestly being content with what we have to share, love is never allowing the rat-race to us ensnare.

Love is not merely oaths taken, vows spoken, love is living and tending for each other when one of us feels lost and if one of us is torn, or broken.

Love is so much more than kisses and making love, though that is always oh-so good, love is nourishing each other with the truest emotions, the bounty of soul-food.

Love is having differences of opinion, of engaging in robust debate, love is not just agreeing with everything we say, love is not living in that sterile state.

Love is taking a stand, in this iniquitous world, love is speaking truth to power, love is never ever merely accepting it all, love is not us shielding ourselves so that in inured inaction we cower.

Love is your head laying on my chest, beneath a swaying palm, love is the solace we offer each as a soothing healing balm.


The New Ballad of Bruce…

When I was Growin’ Up in that Jungleland, your love reached out into our Secret Garden, your love a simple Human Touch away, baby I’m on Fire, just a-Waiting for a Sunny Day, where chrome stars shine as we took a Leap of Faith, our Hungry Hearts wound and bound, taut as the music so stark, clinging onto each other, us against this callous world, us Working on a Dream, cheek to cheek Dancing in the Dark, vowing to each other that we’d never give in, making our way out of this Lucky Town, lucky for the few but not for me and you, lucky for those who basked in the promising sun, knowing all along that you and I were always Born to Run, slipping down the Tunnel of Love, clouded by a Brilliant Disguise, even as we were Blinded by the Light, stumbling all across those desolate Streets of Philadelphia, reaping the Seeds we had sown, trying and trying and failing and failing to believe the lie that We take care of our Own, when all they threw at us was that we were charmed, we were so damned fortunate, to be Born in the USA, all and all they beat us down, taking old Johnny 99 away, dumping him in the gutters of Nebraska, leaving us with no Reason to Believe, while we clung to each Spirit in the Night, drowning in the heartless debt of fate as the crows crowed, all along the mirage of that Thunder Road, seeking not much at all, just a helping hand, while the TV kept lying to us, all about The Promised Land, and as they took a Wrecking Ball to our homes and friends, my Bobby Jean out on her lonesome trying, just trying to make amends, no longer sitting with me on my rusty fender, still believing the oath of No Surrender, for while The River flowed, our splintered dreams cast aside, in hushed conversation with The Ghost of Tom Joad, still clinging, hugging, lying that I was Tougher than the Rest, shoveling crap Working on the Highway, never buying the lie that we would thrive, when all we did was thank the stars that We are Alive,

but deep in my heart, I knew I was Goin’ Down,

all the way back,

To that empty Darkness at Edge of Town…

the air and the flute

the air and the flute …




as air caresses the flute


leaving not a trace
of itself

gently melodious notes
echo invisibly

by passionate breath mingling with air


as does yours
your breath and mine

leaving fragrant traces

of where your lips have been




The Beauty in You



The Beauty in You …




My eyes have travelled across oceans, beyond valleys and peaks, across the vast savannah and swirling in murmuring streams,

my eyes have travelled far and wide in many kaleidoscopic dreams,

my eyes have travelled here and there, and through places in between, yet your beauty remains a constant, skipping off the most radiant sunbeams.



I have felt the touch, the wild deluge of the monsoons, drenching me in its cleansing rain,

I have felt the touch, of moonlight cocooning me, a soothing veneer, that has kept me sane,

I have felt the touch, of your body, your lips, your being a healing presence, your unspoken words a melodic refrain.



You come to me in moments alone, when this world seems empty, a chalice brimming with tears,

you come to me in moments dark, your delicate whispers banishing away all my dreadful fears,

you come to me in moments of splintered thoughts, your wondrous self offering shade from the scorching sun that sears.



The beauty in you lends a lifeline to me, dispelling my mute vacuum, raising me from life’s empty hole,

the beauty in you douses the flames of my self-immolating fire, breathing life into me to once more be whole,

the beauty in you is a sublime truth, a truth of love and of belonging, a truth that has firmly taken root, in my once barren soul.




In your eyes …



in your eyes






As another day recedes,

enveloped under the shawl of night,

allow me to drown,
in your eyes.

Moments fleeting,
fickle hands of time unseeing,

allow me to seek solace,
in your eyes.

The trodden path littered with each shard,

regrets this heart wishes to discard,

so allow me to seek refuge,
in your eyes.

i have walked through twisting boulevards of life,

seeking simple joy, away from desolation, strife,

so allow me to find peace,
in your eyes.






In your eyes,

i find,
the gentleness left behind,

away from superficial smiles,

away from fatigue of the walked mile.

In your eyes,

i feel,
at home at long last,

your love caressing away the restlessness of the past,

stepping out of the shadows to embrace pure contentment,

though a bit player,

in your life’s theatrical cast.

In your eyes,

i touch,
the flame of promise radiating through your loving light,

that is why,
i no longer dread,

the vacuum of encroaching night … … …





raspberry leaves whirl, as flavours of life,
yawning, begin to unfurl …


dusk falls, day palls,

each moment randomly twirls,


each minute unveiling fresh swirls …

The Hyperbole of Verbose Hope

“Rising Hope” – Painting by Karla Beatty





The Hyperbole of Verbose Hope …



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.



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.



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.



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,


embracing hope,


infused by hope,


pure peaceful hope




“Hope” – Painting by Megan Duncanson

This hapless man




This hapless man.



… … … 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?



. Is it me?




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?



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?



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?



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’?



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?



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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


just possibly,


could it be you too?





copyleft afzal moolla 2019





This was written in January 2013.

Utterly shameful, obscene, and inexcusable that it is true today.


It ain’t Xenophobia? Really?

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,



that’s what it is,


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 …



Xenophobia’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

” noun:

intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries “

The synonyms for xenophobia are:

chauvinism, racial intolerance, racism, dislike of foreigners, nationalism, prejudice.



As a citizen of South Africa, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that our young country faces.

The iniquities of our tortured past, the legacy of Apartheid, socio-economic issues etc. are just a few of the many problems that South Africa is grappling with.

What is extremely disturbing for me is something that I have personally encountered, in conversations with friends, family, and fellow citizens from all walks of life.

That something is how rife ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment is within our various, and still divided communities.

I have heard the most atrocious, insensitive, hate-filled utterances regarding the ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’, and most chillingly ‘we will kill these foreigners’.

I am also aware that many intellectuals, think-tanks, NGO’s, and sociologists etc. have written and spoken volumes about how the failure of proper service delivery by the government and local municipalities, and the myriad other shortcomings that plague our country have played a part in the emergence of this abhorrent xenophobic sentiments that are being spouted almost as if one was talking about culling animals in the Kruger National Park.

We have already witnessed the scourge of xenophobia, and not long ago, when organised bands of people marked, attacked and killed ‘foreigners’ in a frenzy of blood-letting and looting.

This was in 2008.

And today, as the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela lies ill in a hospital bed in Pretoria, I hear similar disturbing and blood-curdling hate-speech directed against ‘the foreigners’.

What is going on?

Where and how have we, as a country, failed, or more worryingly, chose to ignore the signs of this cancer that has to be dealt with, and dealt with as a matter of national priority.

The synonyms for xenophobia include racism, racial intolerance, and prejudice.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere are xenophobes.

No one disputes that.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere talk in almost exactly the same terms when they spout their rhetoric, when they go on ‘Paki-bashing’ sprees in England, when they deface Synagogues and Mosques and Temples, or when they beat up and kill ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’.

What is particularly disturbing about the rise of xenophobia, especially in the South African context is the complicity of silence, and by extension, a shocking acceptance of these racist and murderously dangerous views, by ‘normal’ citizens.

We are Africans.

And above all, we are all human.

This may seem like an obvious and unnecessary fact to point out, but when certain friends, family members, and people one interacts with daily, spew such xenophobic drivel, it needs to be taken seriously.

Pogroms, xenophobic attacks, racism, intolerance, prejudice, casteism, religious bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, do not simply arise out of nothing.

There are societal, religious, traditional, cultural and other factors that do indeed create fertile ground for some of these noxious sentiments to germinate.

It is incumbent on us all, people, just people, to engage with people, however close they may be to us, and challenge and make our voices heard that we will not stand mutely by, as such hate-filled venom is chucked around nonchalantly.

We cannot be conspicuous by our silence and inaction when a large segment of our society, those who have chosen our country to be their home, often fleeing economic hardship, political and social violence, and numberless other factors that force, and this is important, people are forced into leaving their countries, often making hazardous and painful journeys in order to find safe-haven amongst fellow human-beings.

As South Africans, we know just how friendly countries welcomed us during the darkest days of Apartheid repression and tyranny.

Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and the other ‘front-line’ states paid dearly for offering South Africans fleeing Apartheid a place of refuge as well as a base of operations against the oppressive Apartheid system.

Apartheid agents and security forces attacked, fomented insurrections against the governments in the front-line states, and still South Africans of all races, creeds etc. found a welcome home in these comradely countries.

We should never forget this.


Our government needs to be more vocal about its stance on xenophobia, and by doing so it will send a message that it will not stand by idly while people from other parts of the continent are constantly under the threat of being attacked.

That said, we as citizens have a voice, and it is morally incumbent on all of us to do our bit so that the scourge of xenophobia is excised from this land.

There is a simmering undercurrent of the possibility of attacks on foreigners as I type these words.

If this is not taken seriously and dealt with, sadly we may see scenes similar to those we witnessed in 2008.











What Happens

By Erich Fried*



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.




* –

Erich Fried

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

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

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



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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