"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On the 99th Anniversary of Mandela’s Birth

Clouds, Pretoria
Pieter Wenning
Public Domain


being a non-partisan patriot i read the news
and suffer the dubious agony of all my predictions
coming true but one doesn’t have to be a soothsayer

to read the marks of blood carelessly splashed
across the walls of parliament: this is not the south
africa of mandela we’ve lately been told so why

do we still speak in shocked tones when new revelations
of graft are leaked like pus from an overdue boil
when good women are silenced with threats of death

and the incorruptible offer their necks for the axe
our land is after all the unaborted child of colonialism
and blame can always be laid at the foot of a statue

or hurled as abuse at the journos with their fake news
while the stalwarts grind their teeth and allies hedge their bets
so long as we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater


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As a person, I prefer to skirt around the issue of politics but as a poet, the day arrives when it is worse to remain silent than to speak. Mandela Day is that day for me.

I hope the message has something of a universal theme but for those who may be interested, here is one f the headlines of the day:

"In case I do not make it..." ANC MP, Makhosi Khoza's message to Jacob Zuma.




24 comments:

  1. From the title--and knowing the author lives in South Africa--we know we are to contend with issues of national identity, colonial residue, racial politics and even something older, tribal, harder still to name and root out. Of any country, South Africa has struggled hardest to reconcile the wrongs of its past, but what has that produced, what is moving forward, what is still mired in the deep past. What is the baby in the bathwater -- nukes? diamonds? ports? we aren't told, though the political miasmas sure sound familiar and extra-national -- fake news, opportunism, the dangers of collapsing back. I am both sorry to hear it and vaguely cheered we are not alone.

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    1. No one is alone in the first quarter of the 21st century, friend.

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  2. Wow, that woman is very brave, to stand and say what others think, but do not dare to say. I cant help but think the news may come she didnt make it, as despots dislike being challenged or called to account. I applaud you for speaking up too, in your poem, Kerry. There comes a time when one cant remain silent. It is sad these are no longer the times of Mandela - or Obama - as we see only too clearly how far we have fallen from the vision of those good men.

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    1. There are more people who espouse the vision of Mandela than not, ordinary people living their lives around all the bullsh*t. Hope remains when all else fails.

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  3. This is so incredibly poignant Kerry, it's almost like a battle cry especially; "do we still speak in shocked tones when new revelations of graft are leaked like pus from an overdue boil when good women are silenced with threats of death" .. Powerfully written.

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    1. I guess when we cease to be shocked it will mean we have ceased to care.

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  4. ...the unaborted child of colonialism...damn, that's good. So expressive and to the point.

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  5. I can relate to this so much since India is also a product of Colonialism. Such powerful imageries. Power to you!

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    1. South Africa and India are indelibly linked through British colonialism.

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  6. My word, this is a fine and very descriptive piece of poetry........
    do we still speak in shocked tones when new revelations
    of graft are leaked like pus from an overdue boil
    when good women are silenced with threats of death,,,,,,,Absolutley shocking that this every happened. and what's even more shocking that these events contiue across our fragile societies.

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    1. Yes, we should be shocked because every citizen hopes for better.

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  7. Powerful! I have a book on Mandela and I am humbled - quite at the man... although I would never ever compare him to Obama as I am not a fan of him as a President of the U.S.A.

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  8. As a Mason I can only encourage others to get or stay involved in politics. And when one sees what one active citizen can do.... (in 1999 I was honored for my work for the public schools)

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  9. I researched this and understand why you are concerned. Mandela was such an inspirational force for hope and equality. His legacy it appears is in jeopardy. Writing about it brings it to the attention of the world. Evey little bit helps.Keep on.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read up on the causes of conflict.

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  10. It is so sad that people of South Africa struggled so long for freedom and justice but even with it are still struggling today.

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    1. There sees to be a huge divide between the politicians and the people in many places around the world these days. Perhaps a phenomenon of the 21st century.

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  11. Kerry, Your penultimate verse, I Luv best, nations out of colonialism do take time to grow up.

    Much love...

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    1. That is very true. There is a price to be paid for many centuries.

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  12. Kerry, I can feel your deep emotions with this beautifully written poem. It just might take this type of poetry to capture the attention of people who do not read the newspapers or watch world news to keep in touch with reality.
    BTW, I love the sky, too. I am so pleased that I found your lovely blog 💮

    Jan

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  13. I used to stay out of politics completely, as a person and as a writer. But these days we can't stay at the edges, so I completely understand. If we do, we--and others around us--will become the silenced, the nonpersons, the dead.

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  14. It is a powerful message to write Kerry. Here in the now of the world most appear numb and incapable of such speech or of even being able to hear it. Overwhelm is rife and the ship is sinking with an oblivious crew. Do we turn to the Hero's Journey to find that there is in fact no hero?

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Let's talk about it.