Monday, 15 August 2016

owed to the San

Those who invented neither gunpowder nor compass
Those who tamed neither steam nor electricity
Those who explored neither sea nor sky
But those who know the humblest corners of the country of suffering
Those whose only journeys were uprootings
Those who went to sleep on their knees - Aimé Césaire

from the day the dawn of humanity
licked the skin of your ankles
you carved open the way with your spindly-light tread
with dust on your brows and cracks in your feet
you slipped into sun-warmed valleys and dusky caves
filled them with stone, footprints and chiseled dreams
when the humble ritual of your dancing followed
the stamping of your feet would resound to a most primal beat
and your bony cheeks would break open in smiles
and make the stars dance in the skies
how could a people like you be silenced?

your blood spilt onto the cave-walls of our minds
princes of the lands the one day, wretched slaves the next
your identity torn and scarred
how can we forget?
how can we forget?
and yet, you keep on rising, the first peoples
filled with dreams and confusion, you do your daily deeds
with soil under your nails, you stitch together the continents
you keep your feet and hearts pressed firmly against the roots of the earth
feeling the vibration of mineral strength
earth is happy to feel how lightly
you have imprinted your spoor

how could a people like you be silenced?
when your tongues come to life, pure and spontaneous metaphor
leaks recklessly from your throats
and in filigree syllables
drips like stalactites in our ears
we will listen and
we won’t forget
we won’t forget

with ochre wings your spirits keep flying over mountains 
naked and free just as the wild skies like it
like a haunting hunger the memory of you clings to our bones
and keeps reminding us of the direction into which we should go
that way, that way

a people like you can not be silenced
hear how your voices break through stone and history
see how you have ignited humanity
as you came walking in harmony with the lands
your beauty throbbing with hope in your hands
hope that with or without our selfish will
will keep haunting us still
we will not forget
we will not forget

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, this is evocative of the journey I've just made with the Xgau clan in Botswana.