Behold us all, we the ungrateful children,
who spring from the womb then recoil,
curse, and hiss, we adders at our mother's suckling tits,
grow to wild kings and their hordes,
snicker or escape while mama's raped.
We trace to blackest Eve our mitochondrial DNA,
and to the lands of Cush, Ethiopia, owe our first-world splendor.
The Greeks loved these and so engendered themselves
in all points imitation.
The Romans loved the Greeks,
and upon these heads rest our richest civilizations.
But for the womb that birthed our magnification,
we pay no tribute, let her limbs, breasts, noble neck and brow
fall to dispute and the ravaging howls of corruption--
we the ungrateful children.
Africa, our mother, we have forsaken.
Is this one more reason that Earth comes to tribulation,
because we have disavowed our mama's beauty,
her grace, and peoples to her soil
Africa, mother of our flesh!
What must we do this dawn to restore you in our hearts?
What must we do to suck from your wounds
our own poisons concealed?
I love the tone and crisp imagery of your poem. It paints with a
certain solemnity...something that needs to be said. Thank your saying the
Healing Africa-- that really got me thinking about a lot of things...
What, really, is Africa? And, what happens when we continues see it as
a polyglot? There may be similarities between the countries occupying
North America--but, there are unique cultural, social, ethic and
spiritual differences that categories and delineate these nations.
The same hold true for Africa. There is no one size fits all. The North
is Arabic...sub-Saharan is black Africa...and fraught with many of the
holdover evils and complexity associated with Colonial rule. Then,
there is East Africa-- Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania...black, but
certainly not Malawi, Zimbabwe or Zambia...yet, each nation is every bit as
rife with conflict, desolation and brokenness of spirit.
OK, let's say that a million dollars is ear-marked for food and
housing projects is made available for projects in Zambia. Once the money is
allocated and transferred to banks in Zambia, how is it disbursed? Who
gets it? What's the criteria and who determines the criteria? What
oversight is in place?
What infrastructure--roads, bridges, petrol stations, workers to load
and unload, storage facilities-- to get the food and building materials
to the villages? Once it arrives in the villages, who trains the
builders? Who inspects the building to ensure safety. And, after they are
trained, who organizes and manages distribution of food and who moves in
to the new houses being constructed?
It's more than just the giving of money-- it is about the systematic
creation of a communication and financial infrastructure that will allow
for sustainable change. And that takes a helluva long time. So, the
committment to 'healing' Africa requires more than talk from Messrs. Blair
and Bush, but a paradigm shift, so to speak, than represents, at the
core, nation building. A kind of Marshall Plan" for sub-Saharan Africa is
what I mean.
A further reality--and probably the second most debilitating shadow
cast by Colonial rule is the drawing of borders without consideration for
existing tribal allegiances and history. (The Germans get this, the
Belgians get that, the French and British go here and the Italians and
Dutch get the leftovers....)
In much of sub-Saharan Africa--as is the custom-- one is more connected
with their personal, traceable history than the geo-political lines
drawn by some guy who lives in The Hague.
Given this, fixing the deep-rooted infrastructure weaknesses of
sub-Saharan Africa can happen most effectively with an approach that targets
similar groups-- this, of course, is only a starting point because it
evinces two mighty problems. First, what if your group is in conflict
with the group who is politically 'in power," and secondarily, with which
group does the military align itself? Who has access to the AK-47s and
the rocket-propelled grenades is a very important question in
Nothing can happen in any sub-Saharan African nation until these
questions are confronted with crisp, clear honesty.
Another consideration is religious. Islam loosely unites the bulk of
Northern Africa--or, the parties in charge--Sudan and Algeria come to
mind-- who embrace Islam are either Sunni or Shiite. Christianity, in
sub-Saharan Africa, is in competition with traditional African religions
and the normal ebb and flow of centuries-old divisions within
Christianity: protestant v. catholic v. orthodox v. evangelical...this list goes
on ad infinitum. Religion, therefore, is not a uniting force--
although I believe it has great potential to become such, it isn't currently
happening. The message of Christianity as articulated by the founder--
inclusiveness, deep respect for ones fellowman, embracing the equality
of women, sacrifical giving, a view toward eternity-- could be a shining
star for sub-Saharan Africa.
What currently unites sub-Saharan Africa? Poverty. Hopelessness.
The answer, indeed, is complex. Let us look beyond the simplicity of
'appealing to the G8 for relief" and musical concerts to a more practical
understanding that includes answers to this: How did we get here? What
can we do--short-term-- to educate and empower the women/girls of these
nations? What can we do--long-term-- to build a communication and
financial infrastructure? How can we work with existing tribal confines and
localities and appeal to a greater good...which, I hope, can be a
concerted national and regional effort. And, moreover, how do you help
people, ensnared in 'how do I get through today' to believe that some
amorphous greater good is possible. That, I think, is the toughest sell of
Beauty that is our Mother even in the cracks and lines, beauty in all her rare-ness, the same way they went in and did their deeds is the same way "they" and "we" can begin to heal her
well needed offering!!!
You've packed a powerful emotional punch here and made a strong statement in the process. South Africa is seen as one of the more 'civilised' countries in Africa and yet in this beautiful land, one can clearly see the contrasts you so eloquently described in your other poem. Unbelievable wealth exists alongside paucity and lack. Civility exists alongside savagery and cruelty. Here babies and children are raped, women mutilated and middle class working people live behind bars while criminals roam free. It is a beautiful land and there is a spirit here that would be hard to define that finds its way into your soul and never leaves. Your poetry has made me determined to share more about this country.
Thank you for your incredible words.
I heard one answer recently that made sense to me but I am hearing it is being fought tooth and nail. The idea of for Africa to become borderless..........therefore the people of Africa as a whole work with the treasures that she holds.........
I have had similiar thoughts about North America. Time for the borders to end. Yea I know I can hear the yelling already. :0(
This was too important not to say so. Mother Africa is, at the same time, an example of the best of humanity and its worst. Our very origin rests in her bosom and collectively we call her "third world". She is the FIRST and one day we will see her as such. To do otherwise is to have no respect. Nature has a way of dealing with those who are without respect. Powerful literature...powerful indeed.
Keep the light shining, Nordette, raising consciousness, raising the need for WILL for change over our own bloated self-comforts. Enough is enough, surely... and how long will it take for the penny to drop that no, we don't actually NEED the next smartest phone handset or designer underwear. What a mug's game we have been sold into - as if Calvin Klein drawers can actually do anything about the spreading hips!!?? This is such a smart, intelligent and sharply defined "classic" write that clangs like a resounding gong, speaking from the depths of ages past to ages present and beyond. If only we could see ourselves - and then see the rest of the two-thirds world that will go to bed hungry and homeless tonight. I have been wrestling with a "Let It Be" write about Africa myself, but the blood flow to... something... has been cut off by the tight fit of my sweatshop jeans...No, not funny, but probably true. This is another rallying call to WAKE UP!! Thank you! Bless you and be well. LOL Kate xx
Jerry, you are very special to me, and I understand why you feel as you do, which is why I, upon rising from my bed and seeing your comment, paused to write the response posted at this link: http://ad.writingjunkie.net/africa2.html
Much love, homeboy,
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
I understand what, and why, you are saying this, Nordette, but in my opinion the world has not forsaken Africa. Far, far from it. Some much money has been poured into that continent, only to be stolen by despots and tryants, opening Swiss bank accounts as they allow their people to absolutely live worse that cattle in some area. Yes, of course, Africa needs help, always have, probabaly always will until they finally see the light of day and begin to give TO the population, instead of lining their pockets. This, is the true tragedy of that beleagured continent.