“African Lament” . . . by Mbizo Chirasha, Zimbabwean poet on the run

Vodun altar in Abomey, Benin courtesy of  Dominik Schwarz under CC BY-SA 3.0

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela



In yesterday’s essay by Mbizo, we learned what life is like for him and for artist-activists who are exiled for so passionately loving their countries and humankind that they are left vulnerable for standing against abuses of power. Through Mbizo’s essay today, we learn exactly what are those abuses and what is the fallout from them.

Thanks to those of you who donated to the fundraiser for Mbizo sponsored by the International Human Rights Arts Festival. It was a successful. Mbizo was able to buy food and a second-hand computer on which to continue his work when he has access to electricity.  A few have provided letters of support to the organizations that fund writers-at-risk moving to safe harbor. We now have the attention and support of a couple of those organizations. Progress! We still seek a host for Mbizo in Germany or someplace in Northern Europe preferably, though England or U.S. would work as well. If you can help, please email me at bardogroup@gmail.com. Thank you! / J.D.


OF AFRICA AND ITS AFRICANNESS
-political press,websites,magazines
-African Union Press
-United Nations Human Rights Press
– Sky News, CNN , BBC Radio Magazine
-Open Society Foundation
-Africa Report
-Africa Confidential
-Africa Writes
-American Press
– British Press
Oxford University Press

Harvard political press

Standard Zimbabwe

Essay Contest about Africa

International Essay Contest African Politics

EU-Delegation Press

SADC
-International Human Rights News/sites
-Freedom of expression websites
– A TRUE ACTIVIST
-AFRICAN ACTIVISM Journals

When chickens sprout claws and chase the eagle up the misty mountain, the corner has turned the road and normal is redefined. Shouted whispers armed with lethal prayers are  unleashed at the naked torso of a man, whose crime is spotting the looters of the lone old lady’s granary, leaving her myriad orphaned grandchildren with emptiness for dinner. Her acidic inner tears cough curses behind cupped hands as she coaxes the dying brood to rest in peace. What is stolen, is then sent to the market for the moneyed to fill their carts and celebrate the independence of a nation.

An itchiness wraps the land with a grandiose malady of anxiety and paranoia for the eyes of state hoots everywhere assessing the hearts of the masses for disloyalty. The music of the land has turned to a one liner in praise of a uniformed gravestone dressed in military fatigues. Even empty farts of the quarreling bowels must be timed to resonate with the loving tribute of the figure looming over the dry dreams of ruler ship. What a time of it the
dwellers of this land have. Daily they’re served with weighty slogans in praise of structures bent by the wind of gluttony. They watch in resignation as every rural youth runs across the border searching for sense and direction to a full stomach.

Africa, the land of mystery and the bucket list of many a Foreigner is a case of rot trading insults with vulgarity. You have been set up by outside drama kings of commercial shenanigans and now you are setting yourselves up. The irony is not lost on your coarse manner in which you treat your fellow kin. Your hand is rough and your manner immoral. Your heart is darker than your night sky’s on a moonless night. You are drunk on the ideas imported from lands that know not to respect the Creator. Blaming the past is a past time and preoccupation akin to prescription intake of medication. The only news welcome to your elephant ears specially tuned to hear dissenting voices is a deal where you earn more than the economy of older nations. Largesse is your middle name and spares nothing and no one when it comes to grander.

Africa, your name is a shocking pronunciation in decent society. You rape your own without shame and invest where others provide security. You cripple every effort of social growth fearing your exposure by opened senses. You imprison the voices of truth and murder protesters. You sponsor battles and wars against unarmed masses. You bring your people to their knees through ignorance and denial. Your only class is repeated mantras of the rising star of “your Nation” even as the world looks on in horror.

Africa, when shall you awake to the fact that the truth has no price and that greed is a short holiday before time catches it with the proverbial fire, purges it and shames it, sending a story for history to chronicle? Africa, the land of giant mines, rich forests and magnificent wildlife, what other blessing do  you need when you mismanage the very resources others covet? The very brains you chase across borders for their truth are the very priests that would have presided over the senses of your  sickly mind, healing it enough for you to see the insanity of your ways.

Past the jungle of netting goons, your sons find welcome respite in soils away from their hearth. They brood over lost times and relationships even as they toil to stay alive. They survive. They thrive. And make names for themselves thousands of miles away from where their umbilical cord weeps with yearnings for the footsteps of lost sons.

As you spit nonstop at the news of their success, having shorn your followers of any and all sense of truth making them fear to tell anything close to reality, you continue your marauding verbosity that makes for sad entertainment at news hours in your own media which – if you cared to check – airs to emptiness in the homes of those you assume are your faithful’s.

A dictator is a sick and wounded skunk whose stench is only accommodated by fellow skunks and vultures who thrive on the dead and dying. He loves his own stories and jokes and misses the well camouflaged yawns and embarrassed looks of those in
attendance. Then, there is the opposition politics. Lol!

Another lot of voices with eyes on what’s wrong but with no plan on how to make the wrong right. If they have, the chance is crippled by marred protests as they try their hand at contesting the tick on the tit at statehouse.

Theatre of the absurd is the daily show in most of our beloved states. Pockets lined with promissory notes at deals to be sealed upon succeeding in a coup or bought and botched elections, confusion is the ration to the nation each tribe pitted against the other in the quest of looting and not governance.

Which way for Africa really? Which way for its people who are pawned in their homes and on their streets by the lawlessness masquerading as law keepers? Which way for a people who know not which way the sun will rise tomorrow and whose tune shall be embraced?

Africa, the land of much is married to less that is lessening by the day. With leaderships whose allegiance is to self-first, then the sponsors of the seat which sit the leader, the land breeds continuously with a narrative that reads like a never-ending dirge. Africa, you lament at the bent of your story told by foreign mouths, but check the faces of those you gore on the heads with yet unpaid bullets for telling it as it is. Which angle does their mistreatment, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial and even death under a ghastly cloud of mischief tell? How else can death from lack of medicines and hunger be told except as it it?

Militarizing social interactions where each is afraid of the next and the death of human camaraderie is told by the silent tongues and opaque staring eyes. And they tell much, those who suffer in silence. They tell about those who ride the nights under fire from your goons. They tell much of those who rely on bush treatment for their ills. They tell much those who follow you as you abuse their manhood for a morsel and stale beer leftovers from your high table. They tell much those who see your motorcade snaking around town with top of the range fuel guzzler while TB wracking lungs wheeze at the roadsides to cheer your dead soul on to your next mission of visionless leadership.

Africa, the land of diversity and resilient souls, when shall you learn to be your own men and stand for what is right even if it’s the neighbor playing truant with his kin. You have mirrored the world and come up with prefects capable of predicting treads of upcoming disasters. Why do you wait till the rapist is through the wreckage of life before arriving for talks armed with first aid bandage for the deep gushes of inflicted injuries? Are these fine institutions for window dressing to show the world you live in a modern bungalow or is there more? If there is more, what is it and where has it worked and what are the results for earning mileage and allowances besides the hefty salaries? Perhaps its job creation for the elderly and the relations of their sweethearts to loot from the wider continent under guise of Africanism.

One has to wonder why a distant figure takes human interest in a human who is thrown to the dogs by his own, for that is the fate of Africa with those either insane enough to stand to the truth, or foolish enough to dare it knowing the consequences.

Africa, the land of beautiful drumbeats and of majestic sunrises only rivalled by their sunsets. When shall you ever sit long enough to read the history of what brings you to where you are? Politics has no friendships but a whore serving for a moment for a fee.

Politicking has a price and when it involves you trading with the devil you must know he is worse than Shylock. He shall come calling. This time not for repayment but for your soul and soil. Africa, once upon a time when your eyes only knew the truth, a stranger came calling. He hoodwinked you, stole your wit and your children. Another has come calling. This one has a magic purse and rains on your every wish with a sly eye.

As you smile all the way to a numbered account and palatial homes far away from your beggary populace, remember this. The man you bludgeon for telling the truth is not the enemy, neither is he after you or your raw power. He is the hope of the land you are dispossessing. He is the voice of those you have silenced. And like all who are dead to truth, your day is well on its way. What shall your defense be when the deadness you have blanketed your people with wears off?

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo Chirasha

MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.


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“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (17): NIKKI GIOVANNI, Quilting the Black-eyed Pea

Nikki Giovanni (1943), American poet, writer, activist and educator
Nikki Giovanni (1943), American poet, writer, activist and educator

Everyone deserves Sanctuary a place to go where you are
safe
Art offers Sanctuary to everyone willing
to open their hearts as well as their lives”
excerpt for Art Sanctuary in Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, poems and not quite poems

Nikki Giovanni is lauded as iconic, luminous, adventuresome and courageous.  She is all of these, but I think what I like most about her is that she is straight-forward, practical and compassionate. These characteristics are the underpinning that make her a rather extraordinary poet, a powerful combination of visceral and intellectual.

There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

Nikki Giovanni first came to note in the late ’60s and early ’70s as part of the Civil Rights, Black Arts and Black Power movements. The strength of her voice punctuated our poetic and political world and she has written, taught and advocated for uncommon good sense ever since. As with all of us, she has many roles in life including daughter, mother, friend and lung cancer survivor. It is clear in her work that she values family and community and supports and encourages these values in others.

Ms. Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. She earned her undergraduate degree in history with honors at Fisk University and did her graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Her knowledge of history richly informs her perspectives in poetry, essay and talk. She taught at several universities including Virginia Tech and was at Virginia Tech for the shooting by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007 when he murdered thirty-seven people.  Cho was a student in her poetry class. She sensed something was amiss with him and asked the authorities to remove him from her class.  After the shooting, she spoke at the convocation.

We know we did nothing to deserve it. But neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS. Neither do the invisible children walking the night awake to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory. Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water….We are Virginia Tech….We will prevail.”

This video is the first of two in this post. If you are reading from an email subscription, you will have to link through to the site to view the videos.

Ms Giovanni’s early writing was a response to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Robert Kennedy, and Medgar Evans.  Her first book (1968) Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement is considered by some to be the one of the most important books on the black-rights movement.  Younger people reading it will want to research the history of the era to put the book in context.

Ms. Giovanni has written some twenty-one books of poetry as well as autobiography and children’s books. She’s edited anthologies and collaborated on books with James Baldwin and Margaret Walker. She’s won countless awards for both her work and her activism. The following video is a reading of Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea (We’re Going to Mars).

I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.”

portrait ~ Brett Weinstein under CC BY-SA 2.0