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Miss Mystery

Written by Kolawole Cornelius Gbolahan

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The morning came wid its sudden cold,

its cool breeze,

its smell of fresh air and nice undiluted atmosphere,

a new day it is,

a new dawn

But right on my bed wid my lonely naked body,

I could feel d impact of d change in weather on my body

and a need for warmth was d only option I had to be sane,

so I grabbed my duvet but still couldn’t find a perfect warmth,

immediately I knew I needed more dan jux dat,

a need for somfing rich,

unique, special and real——

den I thought of a queen,

I thought her royal highness,

thought of a masterpiece,

thought of a sexy goddess,

thought of dat figure so trimmed to perfection and delight to the eye,

a figure so dearing to touch

to feel

to embrace,

all I could wish was to be trapped and wrapped in the total circumference of her lovely body under my duvet,

while I talk her to sleep and keep her safe within my arms

with her lovely face buried within my chest

while our heartbeats dictate the romantic rhythm….

good morning Miss Mystery

 

*Kolawole Cornelius Gbolahan (musician): I am me, I am I, I answer to Me and I listen to I, I do me and I respect You, I appreciate Me and I accommodate and respect You for You cause I love it when You decide to be You and do You, IT PAYS TO BE REAL….A lover of the ART is who I am, I breath the ART, I respect and appreciate the ART, I promote the ART, I project the ART, I talk sing play dance and write about the ART—- its what I do, its who I am, Its who I have always been and I will always Be—-Am African,I believe in Africa, I believe in its Heritage and respect its people and culture, Am human and I Love every Being—– Am a Man a Real Man, I speak what I believe and act with conviction and understanding of my roots and purpose of living—-have got dreams to make reality, goals to achieve, visions to make clear, I aim at strategic targets and with my words I will speak and impact, with my Talent I will influence and touch souls of man cause for me this is being successful—Kolawole Cornelius Gbolahan, am a Nigerian, a true Nigerian with a unique spirit of the ART and strength of Africa—Am proud to be Black, Honoured to be African and Blessed to be Nigerian”

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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Art, Culture, Poetry, Reflections

 

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Mufambi

written by Philisile Mudekunye

We smiled when they gave us new names

Celebrated our colourful languages in hushed tones

And stumbled over their rough expressions

Nodded with the shyness of an awkward teen

When they asked, “are you from Africa?”

 

We answered to their nicknames

Went into their houses backs bent

Desperately clutched to the idea of home

And did for a dime what they wouldn’t

To feed the expectations we left behind

 

We forced our children to be unlike us

To speak larney, tsotsi-taal and Afrikaans

Watched them blend and slip from us

Better I light the fire myself

Than be adorned in a tyre necklace

 

Philisile Mudekunye is a 20 something year old Swazi-Shona lady, medical doctor by profession, but a student of life. A lover of life, laughter and all things beautiful. “I’m passionate about issues that affect women…I also dream of and pray for the day Africa will sell her treasures to the West only on her own terms.”

© Philisile Mudekunye 2013

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Afritude, Human Rights, Poetry

 

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Rise of the Ancients: With the Silence of the Dead Comes the Night

With the silence of the dead comes the night

Thick and heavy

It blinds the eyes

Muzzles the mouth

And suffocates the lungs

All is still

As it should be

For it is night time

The animals of the day retire

To make way for the creatures of the night

With the silence of the dead comes the night

The eyes cease to see

And the ears to hear

The heart slows down to a mellow beat

To lull the body to sleep

The mind shifts to crossover to the chambers of the night

With the silence of the dead comes the night

 

To make way for the creatures of the night

We retire to the safety of sleep

Hoping to remain oblivious and unscathed

By those creatures that come to life at dusk

We pray to white Jesus to keep us safe

And for dawn to hurry back to us

For the sun has once again escaped

To make way for the creatures of the night

And so it is for most

But for those who carry with them the spirits of the ancients

For it is in the dead silence of the night

That the dead come to life

For it is when we sleep that we do not shut out our grandmothers and grandfathers

It is then the mind shifts to crossover

To make way for the ancients of our past

 

Their voices start out as whispers

And for as long as we ignore them

Louder they will grow

Until all that can be heard is a loud buzz

The voices all talk at the same time

They speak a language long forgotten

And no longer loved

They yearn to be heard by their children

To give them comfort through the hard times

The voices come as eerie loud shrills

For they mourn

For their children who continue to suffer

And live in anguish

They mourn for themselves

For they have been abandoned by their children

They yearn to be heard by their children

 

Their faces are distorted

Morphed into something horrific

As they struggle to come back into the light of our minds and hearts

Out of the dark depths of hell we have pushed them to

Their faces are abominable

As they contort to ram through the barricades

That the colonisers and missionaries erected in our minds

Painstakingly implanted to keep them out

Their faces are ghastly

As they push past the white faces

Faces of the white saints we replaced them with

They are fearsome in their blackness

Against the white backdrop of purity and divinity

Their faces are distorted

Morphed into something horrific

Through their mournful cries

And through their anger

As we fight to push them back

Into the dark depths of hell

Back into the night

 

When dawn breaks

We scramble to seek refuge in the light of whiteness

In the magnificent buildings built atop the tombs of our ancestors

We kneel before the altar of the white man

And seek deliverance from the demons of black hell

That haunt us through out the night

Tormenting us to the point of madness

Speaking heretic primitive tongues

Beckoning us

Their black hands grabbing desperately and fiercely at us

Trying to ply us away from the whiteness of God

Into the darkness of blackness

Pulling us further away from pearls and white gates

From the paradise promised us

As reward for our loyalty to whiteness

 

But oh Lord white Jesus

Begotten son of Pope Alexander XI

These black monsters now chase us during the day

They drive us mad

Constantly speaking

Shouting

Screaming

We no longer comb our hair

We rip off our clothes

Why do they tear us from God so?

Will you not save us from these horrors of black hell

From these demons who were once our mothers and fathers

That never knew God until you reached our shores

They come at us

Claiming us

Will you not save us and take us to white heaven

Have we not served your children faithfully

Have we not handed over our wealth and inheritance

Why must you allow this black hell to torment us

We destroyed our shrines

And discarded the beliefs of our forebears for you and you forsake us

Will you not save us from these terrors of black hell

 

© This work is the intellectual property of Doreen Gaura/ Ray 04/12/13

 

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Afrika’s Lament by Philisile Mudekunye

My lips are the bark battered by wind
My skin the ground cracked by drought
My arms are the wiry sinews that hold up a bridge (to many lands)
My feet as hard as the rock I dig my heels into

Thin, hungry, bleeding from the cracks in my skin

Pitied by passers by
Loathed by the ones I bore
Rejected by those who came with a mind to save me

Battered face, bruised body
Yet I’m soothed when I look in the still pool of water
For the reflection does not capture the turmoil within me
The children in my womb are at war, forgetting they are of the same yolk

In my hands are silver and gold
But my children flee from my embrace
They instead stand afar and watch as strange men come forth to caress and ravage me
Strange men with tongues that can’t even say my name

My garments are tattered,
My hair a tangled mess
Covering a brilliance that even I shy away from
My infinite wisdom hidden from my children,
who are only mesmerised by the stumbling traveller

I am a mother, my arms wide open
Yet my children flee from me
I am a woman, bearing within me untold treasures
But my little ones want none of it

* Philisile Mudekunye is a 20 something year old Swazi-Shona lady, medical doctor by profession, but a student of life. A lover of life, laughter and all things beautiful. “I’m passionate about issues that affect women…I also dream of and pray for the day Africa will sell her treasures to the West only on her own terms.”

© Philisile Mudekunye 2013

 

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The Autumn Of My Life

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

The brown of the leaves

Like the brown of my skin

And that of my kin

And no matter what anyone else believes

That colour, in its richness

Is the colour of life

In spite of all the pain, toil and strife

Our strength, my strength,

No one else can ever possess

This brown signifies the establishment of my autumn

My growth into a proud Afrikan wom(b)an

Not very different from a man

But entirely unique in my essence from top to bottom

And yet this manifestation of the self

MY self

Is not entirely welcome

As I am breaking out of the mould

And if am not careful

I will be left alone out in the cold

The red of the leaves

Like the soil of my Motherland Dzimba dze mabwe

Stained by the blood of those who once were

And the tears of She who still grieves

Is a visual proclamation

Of the passion that lies within ME

If I let it burst out of me

I will be subject to society’s condemnation

But in this the autumn of my life

Do I still fear this?

No siree!, I embrace it with a kiss

And face it head on armed with a knife

The knife I call freedom

Freedom to be me

Freedom to just be

Me

And with this knife I will cut through the restraints that are binding me

And be finally free

Free

To love without conditions

To make love with no inhibitions

To fight for my beliefs

And not worry about stupid what ifs

The gold of the leaves

Is the colour of my aura

The light that shines out of me and of this I have never been surer

From now on I will do as I please.

To the music of my ancestors I will dance

To the unspoken jokes in my head

I will throw my head back and laugh

For there’ll be no reason to be sad

This while I dance,

Dance as though I were in a trance

Because this music and these jokes

Much like calligraphy and the care taken with each stroke

I share with the Universe as She takes me out of myself just for this dance

This dance which serves to show me that I am not in Her

But She is within me

Around me

She is everywhere

I am the Universe

The Great Mother

And She is me

This is the autumn of my life

As the leaves fall to the ground and the flowers die

They symbolize the death of the old and pave the way for the newer and truer me

A newer and more beautiful me to adorn the ever strong trunk and branches that remain strong

As the core and foundation should be

Deeply rooted into the ground and in eternal contact with the Great Mother.

As the superficial transforms and falls away

To make way for the other

The other that is the realer and truer me

The other who comes and partakes in spiritual intercourse with the Great Mother

And together they find a harmony

And give birth to an immaculate symphony

That will forever resound in my soul

For that is the ultimate goal

In this, the autumn of my life.

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2013

 

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From Womb to Tomb. For Better or Worse

1.

 

Those eyes

So brown,

No!

Almost hazel

Yes, hazel

So beautiful

That boyish smile

That brings into union those which are the windows to one’s soul

To form a doorway

To one’s sacred god self

How can any woman resist

Let alone me

A naïve little girl

The first son to my adoring parents

How am I to resist your smooth charm?

When in my virtuous purity

I so desperately need to express my femininity

The femininity in me that I am too afraid to know

The sensuality I am too afraid to explore

Because although I am a girl

I may as well be my parents’ first son

I can do no wrong

I have never thought myself pretty or attractive

Even though everyone else thinks so

Perhaps it is my caramel skin

Or my dark, curly, soft hair

Or the brown freckles on my nose and cheeks?

Is it my wide toothy smile

Or perhaps my hourglass figure?

Is it my long slender fingers?

Or maybe it’s my pointy nose?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things.

I can’t know because whatever it is, I don’t see it myself

He stares at me

Makes as if to reach for my luxurious afro

But I guess he changes his mind because he drops his hand to his side

Before he reaches it

He smiles at me and shakes his head

There’s that disarming smile again

I am trembling

And my face is burning

Can he somehow see through my skirt?

Can he see the wetness between my thighs?

Is it dripping down my legs?

My face gets even redder and hotter

What does he think of me?

I fidget and ask him if he wants a pamphlet

He takes one

Slowly and lightly strokes my fingers as he does so

She steps up next to me & introduces herself

I wish was as confident as she is

She’s a real woman my sister

Has an easy way with men

But of course she does

She’s a real woman

Her smile

Her laugh

Her gestures

So inviting

So seductive

So un-me and yet…

All me

On the inside

She tells him I am single

Tells him I like him

I want to die

But then he tells her he likes me too

He wants to get to know me

My heart skips a beat

Before it breaks out into song

***

2.

 

He is charming

Hypnotizing

He is beautiful

Older

Much older

And worldly

He is irresistible

& yet…

Here I am

Resisting

His kisses are no longer sweet

His touch no longer tender

His voice no longer gentle

My moans have turned into screams

My glee into terror

My beautiful moment into a horror show

My wetness into desert

Wait!

I start to feel the wetness again

But this time it’s blood

“Are you sure you said no?” she asks

“But what else did you think he wanted? He is not a boy but a man” she says

“Don’t worry, you don’t fall pregnant from your first time” she adds

First time?

Is one’s first time meant to be stolen?

Ripped out from one’s tight grip?

Is it meant to hurt, defile and destroy?

Am I overreacting?

Is she right? Am I a prude?

Yes, she’s right.

After all sex is what real women do

I am a woman now

Soon to be a mother

And yet… still a girl

***

3.

 

Your eyes

Your beautiful and open smile

I get it

It makes sense

Who can resist you?

But… at the same time

Who could ever hurt you?

I never thought you strong

It took your leaving for me to see your strength

To know you

To know myself

To know true love

The love you searched for since my conception

The love you never found

The search for which you have continued

Even long after you’ve been gone

Every day you had to fight

Fight for love

His love

Mine

Fight with the limitless love you had for us both

His heart was made of stone

Not meant to feel

But to hurt

Hurt you

Hurt me

Hurt everyone

It continued to hurt you

While his smile continued to charm

Give you false hope

Not for yourself

But for me

His touch never again got tender

His words never softer

His kisses never sweeter

He continued to rape and pillage

Even long after he had defeated your body

You were a child

& he a man

A man you loved

For so long but oh so wrong

No matter how much he hurt you

No matter how much he hurt your children

You still loved him

Because that is all you knew to do

Love

Your strength was also your weakness

Your sacrifice your betrayal

You had done what couldn’t be undone all those years ago

& yet you fought to the death

To make that wrong right

The wrong done to you not by you

You were stronger than you thought

You are stronger still, than you realize

You are a warrior

Your love continues to be your greatest weapon

It is powerful

It is eternal

It continues to achieve the things you set out to do before you left

It took you leaving for me to see it

To feel it

It shields me

It nourishes me

It guides me

And all I can hope for is to love the way you love

Not fearlessly

But courageously

Not foolishly but relentlessly

Not selfishly but sacrificially

Because although I did not know, neither did I understand, all the wars you had to fight back then

I know and understand them now

Although I did not know just how much hatred and evil you had to take in back then

I now know how much love you gave back out

Anger, violence, fear, betrayal and evil surround my creation

But love, kindness, selflessness, forgiveness, strength and perseverance my germination & growth

It is those things that I will hold on to

The things I will nurture and grow

The things I will fight to keep alive within me

Because although the things he brought into my existence are a part of me

I will not let them survive or find a home within me

It is the things that you brought into my existence that are the legacy that you left me

The legacy I want to hold on to

And when all is said and done

And we have reached the end of this journey

I will come before you

And offer this legacy back up to you

In thanks and in love

Not as the child you left

But as the woman you hoped I would grow into

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2013

 

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I am Afrikan! But What Does it Mean to be Afrikan? (Part 2)

In the past few months I have had to sort through some of the internal debates I had been having with myself on certain issues which in the whole look at interrogating our Afrikan identities, both as sub cultures and as a whole geographic culture. There is a plethora of sub themes to this of course that I will not get into here. In the first part I have already addressed the neo sub culture known as Afropolitanism and in this part I want to tackle the issue of language as an identity marker of Afrikaness that was addressed by one of my favourite Afrikan women writers and bloggers, Spectra Speaks.

In her post, Spectra unpacks the issue of Afrikan vernacular languages being used as the bar to determine one’s Afrikaness. She points out that Afrikaness is defined by a plethora of things and just because one does not speak an Afrikan language, it does not make them any less Afrikan than those that do. She also unpacks the reasons as to why some Afrikans today cannot speak their mother tongues. It is a well argued and balanced article and I certainly get where she is coming from. In fact, I can relate as I am an Afrikan, born and raised and still resides in Afrika and I speak and write better English than I do my vernacular languages Shona and Zimbabwean isiNdebele. My default setting is English. I dream in English, express myself best in English and when I phahla (communicate/pray to the emissaries of the Creator, my ancestors as I find myself on the path of ubungoma* ) I struggle with keeping to Shona or isiNdebele and often find myself reverting back to English.

I am often asked, be it here in South Africa or back home in Zimbabwe, if I have ever lived in the United Kingdom or the United States as I have what I can best describe as an Afropolitan accent. I have just recently returned from a trip to Zimbabwe and while there a few fellow Zimbabweans asked me where I am from. This reality of my life is due to various factors throughout my upbringing which include my families (both natural and adopted), some of the schools I attended, my social circles and probably television as well. I have never consciously worked at developing this accent and if anything, any effort to manipulate my accent has occurred in recent years where I have found myself trying to make myself sound less “foreign” and more “Afrikan”.

However, in spite of all of this, I am inclined to disagree a little with Spectra. I believe that language is a very important and necessary identifier. This is not to say of course that we should then use it as an excuse to ostracize each other but I feel that we as Afrikans should acknowledge language as a very important aspect of our identity that needs to be preserved. I feel that making excuses for ourselves, especially as adults, is unacceptable especially if we have not made any feasible effort to learn that very important part of our identity.

I appreciate that our knowledge and command of global/western languages is important to our survival in this world that is increasingly getting smaller and smaller but this should not come at the expense of our own languages that have as much a right to survive and participate in the world as any other language. Spectra rightly acknowledged the important role that languages play in preserving what little has survived of our true history on the continent but I feel that she did not do justice to this. A huge chunk of our history was either distorted, stolen or completely erased and the very little that remains is mainly kept in the tradition of oral instruction.  The few secrets left are often found in the stories, proverbs and idioms that are often passed down from generation to generation orally and are often, or the impact thereof, lost when translated or over simplified in text which is also often translated.

For some Afrikans, the knowledge of languages like English or French is a sign of empowerment and makes them an equal deserving of respect. Why can our command of Afrikan languages not be as equally empowering? Upon starting on the book African Women Writing on Resistance edited by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Pauline Dongala, Omotayo Jolaosho and Anne Serafin recently, I was very disappointed to come across this piece by an Afrikan woman writer writing on “resistance”:

I remember crossing the border from Canada into the United States by car a couple of years ago. Since I was not Canadian, I was required to go through passport control, fill out forms and be finger printed and photographed as part of the US-VISIT security program. The officer who processed me, a white man, was patronizing and insulting. He spoke with exaggerated slowness, despite my Canadian accent, Western clothing and obvious ability to speak English…. Inside, I was fuming – ready to whip out degrees and a resume, thus proving my worth as an articulate educated woman of colour.

She qualifies herself and her right to respect based on her Canadian accent, her Western education and Western sense of style. Some might defend her and say that it is because she was in the U.S. and I will counter that by saying that I am sure that were she here on the continent she would still feel entitled to respect on the same grounds. Perhaps more entitled than the traditionally educated and traditionally clad Swazi woman with an excellent command of siSwati. My point is Afrikans are more ostracized, even by fellow Afrikans, for not speaking English or French or not adopting the appropriate accent than they are for not speaking vernacular. Afrikans will more readily ridicule a fellow Afrikan for speaking poor English than they will for speaking poor Chichewa. Poor English is often associated with stupidity and poor chiZezuru with affluence and progress. If knowledge and a good command of one’s vernacular language is good enough for the Japanese, the Italians and the English why is it not good enough for the Igbo, the Karanga or the Masai or any other Afrikan?  Why are we fighting for the right to not know our own languages while retaining the right to identify as “proud” Afrikans instead of fighting for the survival of our native languages as an integral part of our identity as peoples who have for centuries lived in a world that has tried to beat, chain, institutionalize and preach the Afrikan out of us?

Language is also a very important bridge between us and our ancestors. Of course, because they are spirits, they can understand us still, in whatever language we communicate to them and they will also adjust their messaging accordingly but this often times takes away from the weight and the depth of the message or the lesson. Communication is by no means one dimensional and the messages from the ancestors are very important to our quest to realizing an empowered future as Afrikans so when they are dumbed down, their value is in turn diminished.

In his poem Lament of the Images, Nigerian writer Ben Okri speaks of forgotten tongues. The tongues of our ancestry which were expressed in a multidimensional and interconnected fashion. The disconnection of which, has resulted in the Afrikan losing a significant part of their identity because they no longer understand their own language, no longer see its importance and subsequently no longer know how to fully communicate their value, worth and identity to anyone they wish to address or anyone who dares to listen.

A lot of things mean infinitely more or have a much bigger impact in our vernacular languages, not because our vernacular languages are anymore special than anyone else’s but because when we speak them we speak from our whole, from the sum of all our parts and not just from parts of ourselves i.e. the mind or the heart. I invite fellow Afrikans who find themselves in a similar situation (to mine and to Spectra’s) to not be content with justifying and defending the reasons they do not speak “Afrikan” but instead seek to rectify the situation imposed on them by colonialism, slavery and migration by learning their native tongues and doing a better job of teaching them to their children than some of our parents and schools did.

* ubungoma is the Zulu term for the calling to become a traditional healer and spirit medium. One is born with it and not into it

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2013

 

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