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SHOW ME THE MOUNTAIN THAT PACKED UP AND LEFT (poem) - Nontsizi Mgqwetho - South Africa - Poetry International

 
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Ikona na Intaba Oyaziyo? Kwezi Zimiyo Eyaka Yafuduka?
Intaba eyafudukayo “Mayibuye”
Nabo abantu Bako bazizantanta
Beqonda mhlope kuba Ilizwe eli
Limile kodwa lona ngonapakade.

Taru! Afrika Hobekazi Afrika
Ndlov’ enemixaka yiyo Imirozo
Esuka Emhlabeni yati ngqu ngamazulu
Ube noko ungumceya ongangenizembe

Sikonyizililo siti mawubuye
Wada wafanelwa yimb’ol’ ungayiqabi
Sixakiwe konke kuba kumke tina
Njengenkomo zetafa zimka nenkungu.

Taru? Afrika Hobekazi Afrika
Sigcaw’ esinoboya sakwa Mtirara
Intlombe imnandi Emagqobokeni
Ati “Buya” wena engabuyi wona.

Saqela kakade tina magqoboka
Ukuboni Sibi kwiliso lomunye
Namhlanje Afrika sikwenza Ihlati
Lokutwala onke amatyala etu.

Kanti ke no Yesu waye watwele nje
Waye ngumntu etyunyuzwe lubetelo
Waye ngu Lizwi waza waba Yinyama
Ukuze Ngaye sitwale Isits’aba.

Niti ke i Afrika mayenzenjani
Ingateti nje ingevi kwanokuva
Ayina mona ayibangi mawonga
Ayityi nazimali zabantu bayo.

Upi yena lo Tixo simtandazayo
Nalo simtandazayo asingowetu
Sakwenzela intlants’ eziq’uq’umbayo
Ziq’uq’umbela Intaba yase Yuropu.

Nabo ke ubulumko bo Tixo wabo—
Ntu bhinqela Indyebo yase Zulwini
Tina zesibhinqele eye Afrika
Zezakwa Faro ke ezo Izilumko.

Ezaziti—tshisa izitena ngenc’a
Litshone Ilanga ungabonanganto
Nangoku kunjalo nakuti Bantsundu
Kusa siqondele! Kuhlwe singaboni.

Buya ke! Kumbula u Tixo wako
Umb’oli wenqanawa ziqekeka
U Tambo Dala okade bemqongqota
Mabamqongqote namhlanje e Afrika.

Buya ke! Utabatele ekuqaleni
Kumbula Umtundezi wako uneqenqa
Akutundeze ku Lwandle Olubomvu
Ukudla kokucelwa kuyaqumbela

Kauve!
SHOW ME THE MOUNTAIN THAT PACKED UP AND LEFT
“Come back,” mountain that left.[i]
There are your people frantically scrabbling,
knowing full well that this country
will stand to the end of time.

Mercy, she-dove of Africa!
Distinguished elephant commanding an army
stretching from earth to the skies,
tall as an ironwood safe from the axe.[ii]

We raise our cry, saying “Come back!”
Though you disdain it, ochre suits you.[iii]
We’re befuddled because we’re adrift,
like plains cattle lost in the mist.

Mercy, she-dove of Africa!
Furry spider of Mthikrakra’s place![iv]
Christians still favour courtship dances,[v]
they say “Come back” but they don’t come back.

We Christians tend to see
the mote in another’s eye.
Africa, today we make a forest of you
in which to conceal all our sins.

And yet even Jesus, who bore our sins,
was a man, cracked on the cross;
He was the Word, and He became flesh:
through Him we wear a crown.

What do you want of Africa?
She can’t speak, she can’t even hear;
she’s not jealous, not vying for status;
she hasn’t squandered her people’s funds!

Where is this God that we worship?
The one we worship’s foreign:
we kindled a fire and sparks swirled up,
swirled up a European mountain.

This is the wisdom of their God:
“Black man, prepare for the treasures of heaven
while we prepare for the treasures of Africa!”
Just as the wise men of Pharaoh’s land

commanded the Jews: “Use grass to bake bricks,”
leaving them empty-handed at sunset,
so it is for us black people now:
eager at dawn, at dusk empty-handed.

So come on home! Remember your God,
a borer of holes in cracked ships,
Ancient Bone which they sucked for its marrow:
may it still yield them marrow in Africa.

So come back! Make a fresh start!
Remember the Crutch you leaned on as lepers,
let Him lead you dryshod through the Red Sea.
Food from another man’s pot makes you fart.

Please listen!!
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: In her manyano, she would almost surely have practised preaching: the headnotes to her later poems are strongly reminiscent of a preaching style, peppered with liberal references to scripture. But as a woman, she would have been denied a public role as a preacher by missionaries and black ministers; the newspaper empowered her to preach, offered her a stage to voice her eloquent sermons. Nontsizi makes liberal use of the bible in her poetry, taking her titles from Scripture and referring her readers to passages in the bible. Despite her dependence on and familiarity with the bible, however, she often denounces it. Nontsizi is a committed Christian, but she is also a passionate nationalist. [i] The mountain is Africa, which is as unlikely to have moved off as a mountain. Hence, there is no need for the appeal Mayibuye iAfrika, “Come back, Africa,” may Africa return: Africa has never left (and the people should know it: lines 3-4). The struggle must first be engaged within the black community and within each black person. [ii] The image depicts the tall, straight ironwood tree with branches so high up that no one can reach them with an axe to cut them down: this and the following line say “Maintain your resistance.” [iii] Another of many images depicting urban blacks as sophisticates who have turned their backs on traditional customs (like smearing the skin cosmetically with red ochre) and who yet privately hanker after them or practise them. [iv] Mthikrakra, who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century, was the Thembu king, the son of Ngubengcuka. [v] The intlombe is a traditional dance for marriageable but as yet unmarried young men and women, a particular target of missionaries for its perceived licentiousness.