Monday, 19 November 2012

Chizama the poet - Nontsizi Mgqwetho

Sir, Editor of our Umtetell,
long life to you,
grandson of heroes who fell at Hoho.
Mercy! Go, Gatyeni,
we'll follow you.


Hom! Wait a minute!
Those heroes fell for their country,
died at the side of Sandile their king.
Hom bo!
We'll follow you:
we're loyal to the royal prince
who rumbles down Xesi's banks,
flits over Vece, the rock-strewn Xesi,
shade for all, however many."
I'm citing Sandile's praises.

Go and we'll follow you:
no traitor came
from your house.

Go and we'll follow you:
no female poet
came from our house:
the poet who rouses the court
and censures the king's always male.

Go and we'll follow you!
We first encountered these female poets
here in this land of thugs and booze.

Go and we'll follow you,
but how do we know
a traitor's crime can't be cloaked?

Go and we'll follow you:
even a fool's sure to know
a starveling can't guide
or ever lead a nation.

Go and we'll follow you!
We danced at your birth, lord of men!
Umteteli's bread for our table:
long may it last.
Good on you,
lord of men!

Go and we'll follow you.
You too, broad-breasted woman:
your robe rattled Buxton
and prison walls tumbled.

Go and we'll follow you,
woman who protested passes;
confronted by protests
the white man quailed,
and kept his pistol holstered.

Go and we'll follow you,
woman whose words at Nancefield
fired the Commission
to dream her dreams.

Go and we'll follow you,
woman who dogged the Commission
down to Elephant Bay,
I swear by Lady.

Go and we'll follow you.
You too, Cethe, Nkombisa's child.
Chizama, hold tight now,
your people are watching you.

Go and we'll follow you,
Rhadebe, Mbambisa's son,
master stick-fighter;
don't let yapping curs
distract you from the giant hound.

Go and we'll follow you,
son of Maxeke:
we've been bought off with low-grade chuck,
meat slopped up in the compounds.

Go and we'll follow you:
this lot would prefer to face
next year without competition.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Fat chance!

Hom! Wait a minute! The ford holds threats!
That's it, Editor. Mercy!
You'll hear from me again.

God bless Africa.

Nontsizi Mgqwetho (20th century) South Africa

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