erasing my memories - Jabulani Mzinyathi

mutabaruka then you moved me
to take up arms against apartheid
the killings in soweto, in sharpeville
the bombing of exiles in zimbabwe
the bombings in mozambique
the bombings in zambia and elsewhere

peter tosh you moved me to tears
moved me to fight against apartheid
that callous jailing of nelson mandela
the hanging of little talked of benjamin moloise
the mysterious death of steve bantu biko
the deaths of all heroic sons and daughters

how can i forget dennis brutus
choose to forget ruth first
choose to forget umkhonto we sizwe
separate me from that african struggle
that african struggle for freedom

those so-called attacks on foreigners
the smell of burning human flesh
those all too familiar photos
the infamous necklacing of fellow victims
fellow victims of poverty, ignorance and disease

the shocking violence on fellow africans
the displacement of fellow africans
europe dismantles her borders
we slavishly cling to colonial legacies

who alienates me from my struggle?
who seeks to erase my memories?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well think this all white men are bad--all black men are victims--theme is a bit threadbare--and cyclopic--shoot Mugabe--and get on with the job --mates.

Prince Mensah said...

It is not a matter of black or white, Anonymous. It is the loss of identity, an under-reported epidemic of mankind. We have forgotten that our survival is linked to another person's survival. Live and let's live no longer makes sense. Even animals are beginning to treat each other with respect. Our identity as humans is to ensure that each other human has the best experience they could ever have on earth. We have been distracted for far too long about what divides us. It is time to concentrate on what is common to us all.

Rob Taylor said...

Well said, Prince.

I encourage debate and disagreement on this site, and therefore thank the anonymous commentor for their participation (I also encourage commentors to provide names!).

I think it is very important, though, that our responses are the results of close and considered readings of the poems.

To suggest that this poem is saying that "all white men are bad" and "all black men are victims" is an injustice to the poem, which in my mind is saying something quite different, more nuanced and much more interesting.

Prince Mensah said...

The great educator, Dr Kwagyir Aggrey once said,

Educate a man and you educate one person. Educate a woman and you educate a nation.

Kwame Nkrumah also commented,

The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the liberation of Africa.

Our socio-economic systems are static and we are paying for it. Our cultures have stifled the strength of our women for far too long. We have used our ancestors as a clutch for too long, even though some of their methods are intangible with our present struggle. We have to forge new identities such as a genuine appreciation and education of the African woman and the minimization of tribalism as a bloc against national progress. We can talk and talk and talk yet we need action. We have to educate our people in every way we can that the things of the past are relevant when we do not want to repeat history. Apart from that, we must be dynamic enough to create a prosperity that is truly ours.

jabulani mzinyathi said...

i will not be defensive.let my poetry do the talking.i will not talk about my poetry.i am happy that the poem has generated some debate.that is healthy.thatnks rob taylor. i share the same views with you.to stifle debate is to espouse dictatorial tendencies.my africanness in the global village is important.let the debate go on about the past,present and the future.a tree cannot grow without roots.this is not meant to romanticise the african past but to look back in order to move forward!

Anonymous said...

Well its-me anon.back again perhaps Ihave been tilting at windmills-my intention was to stir the pot to what? provide food for thought.
The poem--excellant well balanced and,for me,it provides awareness of several heroes of Africa.

edithfaalong said...

i agree very much with prince.
this is an issue enveloping everyone. man being inhumane has become endemic to the whole world. its a matter we all just have to work on.-A STRONG MAN STANDS UP FOR HIMSELF, A STRONGER MAN STANDS UP FOR OTHERS. lets allow the rare words of wisdom and calls to order to be like seasoned salt on our souls. lets react positively. nice one Jabulani

edithfaalong said...

i agree very much with prince.
this is an issue enveloping everyone. man being inhumane has become endemic to the whole world. its a matter we all just have to work on.-A STRONG MAN STANDS UP FOR HIMSELF, A STRONGER MAN STANDS UP FOR OTHERS. lets allow the rare words of wisdom and calls to order to be like seasoned salt on our souls. lets react positively. nice one Jabulani

Rob Taylor said...

Anon - I'm glad you returned (still wish you had a name, of course!)

I do hope you feel encouraged to keep stirring the pot - it's certainly a good thing!

Edith, that's a wonderful quote - I think it cuts to the heart of this poem.