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THE HILL DIFFICULTY THE BLACK MAN SCALES (poem) - Nontsizi Mgqwetho - South Africa - Poetry International

 
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Induli ka Xakeka!—Enyukwa ngu Ntu!!
Bona ke! Namhlanje ndifun’uqondile
Mfondini wakuti nantso intlekele
Make uzibuze wozu undingqinele
Make kaloku nje sitwax’ ukuteta

Nduli ayinyukeki! Iyatshitiza
Andizikukwekwa ndirola umxelo
Yiyipi okwangoku ebhadlileyo
Into eseyimile kwezabantsundu

Nantso ke ne African National Congress
Esasiyibonga kwapuke nembambo.
Sebehamba ke beyibuza kwakuti
Besiti kanene kodwa yatshonapi

Akunakupikwa ndilusizi ukutsho
Ziko inyaniso kulo mbuzo wabo
Mna ke ngokwam andikunqweneli
’Kutyafisa imigudu eseyenziwe

Kodwa eyona tyefu endiyibonayo
Ityafiswa kukutanda amawonga
Azinasidima into zomntu ontsundu
Zipetwe ngabantu abanamakwele

Lenduli—ka Xakeka ixake cwaka
Kudala mu siyinyuka siba manzi
Ayinyukeki konke kumntu ontsundu
Imbhinqisa kupela ngelitye lembola

Ngu mona uba libhaxa kulenduli
Yimali iba libhaxa kulonduli
Ngoko ke sixakiwe kukuyinyuka
Pikisa ezondawo ke ngwevu yakuti

Umanyano lulibhaxa kule nduli
Sesaxakwa nokulutsholozela
Luzinkomo zetafa zimka nenkungu
Mahlungulu amnyama nendlela zawo. Tina ke!

Induli—ka Xakeka enyukwa ngu Ntu
Safela ezantsi madoda nganitsho
Yiyipi eyonanto nimise yona
Kumalinga ezinto esewenziwe

Ukungavelani—Nokungaxabisi
Amaqaba kulibhaxa kule nduli
Siyifuna qo kodwa imali yawo
Nobila nisoma aninakuyinyuka

Umanyano nje lwenene lungamandla
Yintoni emandla angangomanyano
Kunini kodwa sigaula siteta
Sesingati satwasela ezingeni

Ixakile lenduli ukuyinyuka
Ipahlwe zizingwe kwanezingonyama
Yendele! Yazika! Ihlahlwe liqina
Eliyile mali imbhela ’mawetu

Yiyipi eyona de namisa yona
Kwezi ziman’ ukuwa zibhukuqeka
Yintoni ukungati ningamaqeya
Ati ukulala aquluselane

Inzima le nduli inyukwa ngu Ntu
Inzima yapantse yoyisa no Mkrestu
Waxap’ amagwebu wasibhongobhiya
Wati nzwi nendlebe enyuka Lenduli

Nangoku kunjalo nakuti Bantsundu
Singabo nxazonke intw’engenacala
Sibambene ngento esingayaziyo
Kaloku ezetu zityiwa zirwada

Yiyipi okwangoku ebhadlileyo
Into eseyimile kwezabantsundu
Ninan’ ukwenjenje nibantu bangaka
Nashiya Isizwe? Sambete izandla

Ngumlumgu na? Ote masingamanyani
Sixwitane sodwa sibang’ amawonga
Ndingatini betu pikis’ezo ndawo
Ngumlunguna? Ote masitye zimali

Maluf’olufayo sidinwe kuncwela
Ngapandle kokuba konke nimanyane
Anisokuze hai nimkwele umlungu
Xaningenayo nje nentsimbi yomqala

Induli—ka Xakeka enyukwa ngu Ntu
Nobila negazi aninakuyinyuka
Anitandi Sizwe nitand’ izisulu
Nangoku kunjalo pikis’ ezo ndawo

Salahl’ amasiko akuko nto i’nto
Zandile nengqola kule nzala
Senditshilo kuni ukuti Lenduli
Sopala sisopa asinakuy’nyuka. Siyavuma!
The hill Difficulty the black man scales
Look! Today I want you to understand
the essence of our distress.
Compatriot, wrestle with what I say,
meet me in sober debate.

The hill can’t be scaled! It’s slippery.
I won’t mince words, I’ll bare my heart:
up to this point in time,
just what have blacks achieved?

Take the African National Congress:
we once burst our ribs in its praise.
Now we go round in search of it:
“Has anyone seen where it’s gone?”

None can deny, I’m sorry to say,
these questions have some point.
But as for me, I’m not at pains
to mock their efforts to date.

Vying for status is lethal poison
internally sapping Congress.
Undermined by the envious,
black people strive in vain.

This hill Difficulty’s beaten us,
we’ve tried and tried to scale it:
it can’t be scaled by blacks
strapped with the millstone of custom.

Envy’s an obstacle up this hill,
money’s another obstacle:
and so we battle to scale it.
Greybeard of ours, am I wrong?

Uniting’s an obstacle up this hill,
so, burdened, we no longer praise it,
like plains cattle lost in the mist,
black as crows in our ways. That’s us!

Why, my good man, are we slumped at the foot
of this hill Difficulty black people scale?
You’ve set your hand to many things
but which of them persist?

Your loathing and goading of Reds
are obstacles up this hill—
yet how you covet their cash!
Sweat all you like, you won’t reach the top.

Unity’s our only strength,
what has more power than unity?
How long must we hack away at this,
like novice diviners in groves of mimosa?

This hill frustrates attempts to scale it,
lions and leopards ring it;
the hill stands firm, our people slip
on slopes with carpets of cash.

You’ve set your hand to many things
which continue to list and sink.
You’ve all turned into Hottentots
snoring their heads off, arse in the air.

This hill the black man scales is steep,
it nearly daunted Christian;
his mouth frothed with a sloven’s foam,
his ears stuck out as he scaled this hill.

And so it is for blacks today:
we sit on the fence, we won’t take a stand.
We don’t even know why we squabble,
but we bolt our fruit before it’s ripe.

Up to this point in time,
just what have blacks achieved?
How could you turn your back on the nation,
with only its hands to cover its nakedness?

Did the whites instruct us not to unite?
We stand on each other to reach above.
What more can I say? Have I got it wrong?
Did the whites instruct us to squander our funds?

Whatever, nitpicking tires us:
if you don’t all get together
you’ll never saddle a white.
You don’t even have the bridle and reins!

Sweat blood, you won’t make the top
of this hill Difficulty the black man scales;
you’ve no love for the nation, only for bargains.
That’s the truth. Have I got it wrong?

Our customs abandoned, we’re left empty-handed,
in this generation apostasy’s rampant.
I’ve said it before: scratched and bloodied,
we won’t make the top of this hill. Agreed!
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: The title refers to the hill encountered by Christian, the allegorical protagonist of John Bunyan’s The pilgim’s progress, in the seventh chapter of Tiyo Soga’s Xhosa translation, published in 1867 as Uhambo lomhambi. Nontsizi appeals broadly to all the black nations of South Africa, urging them to settle their narrow ethnic and political differences and join in a common struggle for liberation. Drawing on Bunyan’s symbol, she urges blacks to set their ways straight, unite and scale the hill Difficulty to achieve their liberation.