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WE’RE STABBING AFRICA! (poem) - Nontsizi Mgqwetho - South Africa - Poetry International

 
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Siyayibinza!—I Afrika!!
Lento isisizwe ngomteto we Bhaibhile
Abangcatshi baso mabhubhe bapele
Bagqiba Isizwe bakupa nobuzwe
Bupel’ ubukosi singenwe zizizwe.

Siyay’ binza i Afrika makowetu!
Ngokuntamana sibulala amawetu
Seside sanxiba—ke nemix’aka
Yamawonga abulala i Afrika.

Elonxeba e Afrika libuhlungu
Sesicenga ngamawetu kubelungu
Xa ndilapo, andinazintlon’ ukutsho
Kwanemisebenzi nantso nayo itsho.

Mawo! Mawo! Mawo! Mawotshe—
Satshabalala ngokuswela u Gqirashe
Yeyela! Ngelemkono i—Afrika
Ngokuyibinza yonke le Minyaka.

Na Congress, namigudu yenziwayo
Namfundiso nantoni elingwayo
Niyashiywa! Nilibele kukugxeka
Imke ke kupele yona i Afrika.

Ucalulo lukuti kwa nokungcatshana
Iqwesheke i Afrika sisagxagxisana
Inene singabhanga sike sazipata
Tu! Nto! Nabhongo elo lokuzipata.

Zulu! Mxosa! Msutu! Swazi! Tye lase Mb’o
Bonke bayafana akunandzwe zimbho
Emhlabeni kunjalonje bakwa nto nye
Endalweni kwa ye Sizwe bandawonye.

Nichit’ amawenu nincedis’ Izizwe
Kuba nje nifuna ukongwa nilizwe
Zonk’ imfihlo zetu bazaziswa nini
Umbuzo manditi kode kube nini?

Taru! Afrika! Inkonzo zizimbho
Mondli ebulawa ngabakowabo
Ngamanz’ epalele ezintlabatini
Kauxele mfondini kodwa ke nenzani.

Bangapi o Judas abafe kumdaka
Bedlala ngebala layo le Midaka
Ibuyela emva yona i Afrika
Nenzan’ ukwenjenje nibantu bangaka.

Ndiyabona noko sisaswele I Njoli
Ezingalimi izikondo zihleli
Osigquma nkungwini kuvele Ilanga
Zipitizele zixel’ amax’alanga.

Nkosi—Sikelela i Afrika
Beti ziyikili ngezihlisa zodaka
Kuvelamabala zixel’ ulovane
Ufake no pawu ukuze sivane

Camagu!!
We’re Stabbing Africa!
This nation rests on the law of the bible,
traitors must forfeit their lives.
Turncoats wound it, rip out its lifeblood:
our power wanes, and we’re ripe for invasion.

My people, we’re stabbing Africa,
we kill our own through betrayal:
we court celebrity status,
honours for killing Africa.

When we trade our own people to whites for profit
we inflict a deep wound on Africa.
I’m not one to shy from saying so:
your public behaviour bears eloquent witness.

Oh dear! Dear, oh dear! The shame and disgrace of it!
We wither and perish for lack of a healer
and Africa’s forelegs sink deep in the quagmire:
we repeatedly stab her year in and year out.

Congress and all the successes we strained over,
education and all that we strove to achieve—
as we idly bicker we’re left in the dust
and Africa slips through our fingers forever.

We split into factions, betray our own people,
and Africa leaves as we claw at each other.
We’d be all at sea if we ruled ourselves:
our cry for self-rule is vapid!

Zulu and Xhosa! Sotho, Swazi, Mfengu!
You resemble each other in larking about,
but there once was a time when you were one people,
united when nations were called into being.

To help other nations you shun your own people
in your desperate quest for honour and status.
They gather from you all our closest secrets.
Let me ask you this question: when will it all end?

We’re accustomed to service. Mercy, Africa,
Nursemaid slain by your sucklings,
you were like water tossed out on dry earth.
Please explain to me, fellow, just what you all do?

How many Judases toyed in secret
with black people’s lives, then died in the dark?
And Africa constantly fades in the distance.
Of all people, why do you act in this way?

It’s perfectly clear that we’re lacking in leaders,
not those who grow roots from squatting down motionless,
but those in the mist whose roar makes the sun break through,
who bustle about quite as active as vultures.

God bless Africa!
Patch the network of cracks in the wall up with clay,
so the surface appears chameleon-coloured,
a sign to inspire our respect for each other.

Peace!!
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: Nontsizi’s poetry is filled with images of sound: the wailing of women and Africa, the roar of thunder and rivers. Animals feature prominently too, the sheltering wing of a mother hen, the spots on a leopard, the stalking lion, the cow yielding only dribbles of milk and the hyenas that Christians turn into at night. Although she writes removed from her home country, her imagery is that of the countryside, rural rather than urban. Although she occasionally appropriates a masculine voice, her imagery is also very much that of a woman: she swears by Lady and refers to women’s petticoats and skirts and drums. Jesus wears a woman’s headdress and Africa is clearly female. Nontsizi urges Africans to transform their attitudes and behaviour; with the bible and Mother Africa as their true sources of strength they will find a ford, a crossing to a new dispensation of justice for all.