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Tichaona M Chinyelu

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Amandla Awethu I
by Tichaona M Chinyelu
Friday, June 08, 2007
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A poetic tribute to the brave South Afrikan students during aparthied.

Amandla Awethu I


It was 1976.

A fine time to be alive in soweto:

for a change.


(just to be alive is a fine time)


We whispered about it

on the way home from the school

where we were told.


(we hated afrikaans too)


We uttered the word amongst ourselves.

Amandla passed from matchbox house

to squatter camp and back again:

when it came back it was loud as thunder.


(they were our children)

(they were children)


We didnít tell our mothers and fathers.

They were used to existing under apartheid.

in the name of protecting us

they would have denied us the right

to protest against the Boersí foul policies

but what kind of protection is that?


(we worked in their houses, tilled their fields)

(we knew the ugliness they were capable of)


We didnít want to speak their language.

It was bad enough having them on our land

constantly telling us what to do and how to do it.

And now they wanted to control our speech?

To free our tongues of perversion

we took to the streets.


(we didnít know)

(they didnít tell us)


The scent of the air changed

and our bodies suddenly knew bullets.

We saw hector being carried.

We ran every which way but the right way

because there was no right way away


(we ran too)

(but we ran to the children, our children)


As we ran we picked up stones

and aimed with the precision of hatred

but stones against bulletsÖ

stones against teargas...

fire became our ally

and raged in our defense.


(our children shamed us)

(our children shamed us into defending them)


We ran every which way but the right way

because there was no right way away

except for those who ran into exile

except for those who were taken and hidden

in rooms with cement walls

where their cries became the soundtrack

that dominated life in soweto


(what could we do?)


Love reawakened in those of us who stayed

as our mothers and fathers buried our classmates.

We raised our fists as our mothers and fathers

embraced us with the words amandla awethu

we stomped the ground as nkosi sikeleli 'iafrika

replaced the burial hymn of amazing grace

and the tears we cried at funerals

became rallying cries for further resistance.


(what else could we do?)

(they were our children)



In the Whirlwind

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Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU 6/10/2007

Excellent historic background in "Amandla Awethu I". A magnificent tribute
and great social and humanistic message.

In admiration,

Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
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