Friday, 1 February 2013

Show Me The Mountain That Packed Up And Left - Nontsizi Mgqwetho

“Come back,” mountain that left.
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.

We raise our cry, saying “Come back!”
Though you disdain it, ochre suits you.
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!
Christians still favour courtship dances,
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!!

Nontsizi Mgqwetho (20th century) South Africa
Translated by Jeff Opland

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