french conference in the drc - Jabulani Mzinyathi

laugh your lungs out
but that is where we are
not a fatalistic acceptance
a backhander from reality

then it got into the marrow
this poem is part of the evidence
dreaming no longer in my mother tongue
perhaps now a cultural bat

still in the spider's web
the entanglement gets deeper
now that was total surrender
celebrating growth of the french language

against the backdrop of abject poverty
in the background foreign gunfire
a french conference in the jungles of africa
this is an avalanche of questions


Darko Antwi said...


I have swallowed English
I have choked myself with French

At daybreak yesterday
I started learning Ewe.
I was fluent by sunset
Tomorrow by this time,
I will try my tongue on Dutch
and see where my love for seaweed would take me.

I have swallowed English
I have choked myself with French

Cut my tongue when i die
But don't give it to my people
for they have no value for tongues
Wrap it in a blue cloth
and give it to an Englishman
or a French lady,
that it may be preserved.

Darko Antwi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darko Antwi said...

Something unusual was going through my mind. I wanted to respond to Mzinyathi's protest, but I couldn't gather tenses as best as I felt. All I could do was 'Tapestry', a non-combatant* poem I wrote instantaneously; upon reading 'french conference in the drc'

I'm still in a block as to how best to respond, because I don't know where to place the blame. I'm not quite sure of who should be guilty...of what?. Neither can I fathom the global / mutual benefits of the conference, if perpetuation of the French language is not the only objective. That is not to say I challenge the legitimacy of the concerns in the poem. But for sure, I wonder if Mzinyathi's audience will laugh their lungs out, or ridicule, or feel indignant, according to the persuasion of his opening lines.

It baffles me, somehow.

Welldone Jabulani, you are a unique poet.

* 'Tapestry' is not written to attack 'french conference in the drc'. Thanks.

Unknown said...

that i somehow inspired another poet to respond poetically gives me immense pleasure. well tapestry is not really non combatant if you ask me! it is deep cutting. darko antwi read also my views in the interview.that is how i feel at times if not always. read also a poem by taban lo liyong in the cows of shambat-it is entitled messed up by english. i quote ' english , you are not my tongue/ but you have fucked me up' now here is militancy at work. what do we do antwi about afrikan languages? what do we do about adopted ones? is the division of africa into francophone, lusophone, anglophone something that we must fatalistically accept and say it is ' our legacy' and move on! do we like ngugi write decolonising the mind in english and move on. where to? these are not new questions. am just taking part in the debate. oh antwi where does the solution lie?