Monday, July 4, 2011

Response to the xenophobic killing of Farai Kujirichita - from NoViolet Bulawayo's blog


“We too bleed through our eyes, our severed heart cries, with our mouths...ask why? Why? OH! Why? As we try to register yet another black on black carnage! Where is the love?” Fungai Oliver Maboreke.

This project was inspired by the death of Farai Kujirichita whose murder was made too raw and intimate by the fact that it was captured on camera so that I, like many, lived Farai’s dying moments here. Farai is not the first, and he will not be the last; the Xenophobic killings of immigrants continues in South Africa’s shanties, their unfortunate deaths an injustice that cracks the shell of our humanity. After watching the video I made an appeal to facebook friends to respond to the xenophobic murders in writing; we join hands in poetry, pain and prayer in the following creative quilt.

Many thanks to these poets and writers for their participation: J.S. Makokha (Kenya), Deejay Busang (South Africa), Fungai Oliver Maboreke, the late Julius Chingono, Barbara Mhangami, Sandi Tshuma, Fungai Machirori, Novuyo Tshuma, Emanuel Sigauke, and NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe).

Picked (for South Africa)

Dream I:
In the land of the humane Bishnoi
a land distant, ancient, in holy India,
old sands sing in chambers of arid winds
about the beauty of life, as a lone woman
in sari scarlet, feeds a gazelle kid, her triplets
too, with milk drops off two big but lean breasts.
Life here, human or beast, a source of peace...
Dream II:
In another land, one antique too,
a land inside us all, kids of africa,
new winds howl in chambers of arid hearts,
about the beauty of death, as yet a human
on a liquid shroud of innocent blood, his own...
dies, under weights of whispers in another mob justice.
Life here, a nightmare-come-true, in any Bishnoiland....
Dream III:
In the land of poetry
, now home of emotion,
a place where words live before life on earth;
here, where divine voices explaining all truth
are born in vast nests of vast galaxies divine;
here, where all words are born that become life,
planting seeds of life as genesis, across blue planets,
all the Gods are silent another innocent life
is lost, on a shanty street in adolescent Mandelalands....

Where they are picked
maimed by mines
crossing borders
from troubled nations.
They are picked across the border
murdered in the streets
where they are squatters.
They are picked
at boundaries
picked by flooded rivers
attempting to swim
across borders.
They are picked
by crocodiles
crossing borders
that are rivers.
They are picked
across the border
picking their lives
in trash bins
picking comfort
in drain pipes.
They are picked
in foreign lands
picketing host politicians
who cannot
accommodate them anymore.
They are picked, singing sad songs,
Hear them sing, hear:

Song 1:
The hounds of hell nip at my feet.
I run, I slip, I fall on the street.
My knees are scraped, crunching on gravel,
My breath is fast and burns my lungs, my airways.
I run, I slip, I fall on the street.

I look up, eyes beseeching,
My brother, myself, help me!
He walks by, his face unspeaking, his eyes unsmiling.
I run, I slip, I fall on the street.

I tug at her skirt, my hand is bleeding
I am cut, I am hurt.
My sister, help me I entreat
She shakes me off and hastily retreats.
I run, I slip, I fall on the street.

I am broken, my spirit fails me.
My eyes meet hostility, the hatred suffocates me,
Assails me, pummels my body, my soul.
Long before the sharp searing slice of the machete,
Way before the dull thud of stones on my flesh
The crackle of sticks on my bones, I have died.
The merciless have killed my hope,
The merciless have strangled my strength to run,
My desire to survive, my hunger to live.
I don’t run, I give in to the merciless, on the street.

My blood, which stains stones and quenches the thirsty earth, your blood.
The tears flooding my soul are your tears.
The screams caught in the back of my throat are your screams.
Blood is red, it is not a foreigner,
Tears of pain and pain itself are not foreigners.
Death who is common to all, is not a foreigner.

Here I succumb to the stench of poverty
Stench of depravity
Stench of viciousness
Stench of sickness,
Stench of hatred
I succumb, a brother’s
prayer in my ears:

Song II:
I do not want to die and so if you do this I will run. Through the grimy, untarred sewage strewn streets of this township, past runny-nosed, barefoot children too young to see the sky turn black, I will run. And as you chase after me chanting words full of poison, hate and ugliness, I the kwerekwere, the insufferable brother born to another mother, will run from the shack I call home that you in your rage will have set ablaze. Then, as Thabo, John, Tshepo and Mandla join in the senseless chase, I will falter for just a moment, stunned at the vicious treachery of people who have lived with me as friends, not just neighbours. But what is this? What does it mean? Does it mean nothing to you that I have been here at your side day after day, queuing at the taxi rank, drinking at our secret spot and debating if ‘Amakhosi’ or ‘Ama-Buccaneer’ will win the Soweto derby this football season? As my feet pound on the dirt, my eyes will see not the way ahead, but fleeting images of walking this very route just yesterday with you and you and you, tired after a long day at work in the city that promised us gold but has eaten our souls instead. Tearing past Aus’ Lulu’s spaza shop, where I bought matches to light my paraffin lamp just the other day, I will hope briefly for this warm-hearted woman to offer me protection and talk you out of your insanity… This rock of a woman, who has smiled and offered me credit on her delicious warm vetkoeks that have sustained me and saved me from the grip of hunger, will not smile at me today. Today she will not see in me a faithful customer. Her own suffering and torture forgotten, Lulu will become an enabler and the catalyst of the worst day of my life. She will not use the position of respect and favour she holds amongst the rabid pack that bays for my blood to plead my case for mercy. Oh no. She will choose rather to swing her motherly arms out to throw paraffin on the back of my shirt. As the warm slipperiness clings to my skin and I inhale noxious vapours I will ask myself, What have I done?

What have I done? what
are you killing me for? who will,
tell my mother, tell my father tell
my people? what will you tell your children?
what will this do for you? how will you
look at yourselves tomorrow, standing
in front of mirrors gazing at your eyes
like mine, face like mine, at skin, black
like mine? What will you say, tomorrow?

Tomorrow, I can still hear myself shouting, singing,

I can still hear myself sayin 'f*ckof, This is not your home'

All I thought was, 'we just are threatening them' until...

Until I saw objects being thrown at him..

Until I saw him being kicked everywhere..

Until I saw blood running out of his nose, ears, eyes, arms, legs

Then reality hit me and I began to realise...

This is not a threat, but inhumanity

I backed off trying to gather all this ...don't even know what to call it

I saw him lying down; I saw his eyes wide open, yet closed and crying blood

I heard his voice crying 'No please, I'm sorry'

I felt his heart saying 'please tell them to stop'

I felt a tear burning my heart and I couldn't do anything .. Or that's what I thought 

If I stop them, they'll be on me

They'll be crucifying me together with him I wish they did, and this regret won't be there

The guy who use to do my garden, shoes, hair was being killed

If only I........If only I fought as an African,

If only I stopped the petrol from ... from reaching his African soul,

Then things would be different

I saw the guy next to me making a flame out of a stick

The stick that was thrown to the petrolled African

I saw the flame all over his bruised body, mouth still crying and heart saying
'Please tell them to stop'

I saw his family through his flame crying, 'we losing our only bread winner

We losing our dad, we losing our uncle, we losing our teacher, we losing our husband, we losing our....we losing our black brother

Please someone tell me how to forget this, how

to rewind things, how to bring him to life again

All I want is just to say....I'm sorry

I'm sorry I betrayed you as an African

I'm sorry I was not firm enough to stop it

I'm sorry for being influenced against you

I'm sorry for.....
I guess it's too late now.

Dream IV:
And in a land of rage and rainbows
brothers and borders, flowers and flames
a dead cow rises to chew the cud,
the aftertaste is burned bitter blood
I know why I remember this land,
this is where we came to sit down
by bloodied rivers, dipped tired feet
in the mouths of sad poets singingpraying:

Give me the softest petals to cover this patch of reddened South African soil, give me milk for these weeping wounds, give me balm for the unheard cries, give me silk for these tears, bring out a dress of stars for this soul. Do not play Nkosi’ sikelel’ iAfrica while I find the words with which to tell Farai’s mother how her son was not mauled by animals of the wild, how her beautiful black son was butchered by black children black boys black girls black men black women, no he was not butchered by beasts. I’ll tell her, Mai Fari, he was not from there, he was wrong there, he was not wanted there, he did not belong there, he was hated there. There there there that place where Zimbabwean blood has been spilled there, has quenched greedy machetes there, has flowed like rivers there, has decorated leaves and grass and stones there, where Zimbabwean bodies have burned there, have roasted there. I’ll tell her he died because they forgot he was made in the image of God there, that he was innocent there, that he was just a perfect mother’s boy there, they forgot they forgot they forgot they forgot they forgot Farai’s life was sacred there.

And they forgot again when they struck that stick of matches and let it catch flame against bare black skin. Did you see him fall to his knees – that man on fire scorching blacker than the hearts that watched?

Give me the petals from the flower that grows from the soils his ashes feed…Yes, give me its petals so that I may wipe his mother’s tears with them and bind the wounds festering in the hearts of his brothers and sisters. But no, do not sever the plant’s roots. Let his ashes feed the earth. Let the flower grow there, but do not leave its petals in bloom, for this is what it is to be foreign – to grow in distant soils but always bring your glory back home so we may –

Sing song sung for many suns
Sung in fluttering hearts,
dying in glare of sun
Speak up speak up! Yet –
Soft sound cedes to Serpent hisssss
Sweat – red as blood – seeps through hatred sores
Sows seeds of Sorrow
Sway in wind like stalks in
Speak up speak up! Yet –
Several Suns later here we are
…..Once more
Slopping through soapy waters of
Sun Shines Shanty like Silver
Chanting masses Fisted Hands
(Pamberi! – Have we been here before?)
Punch in Gut
Insipid stares
Death Dances
In Delightful Seduction
....(Varoyi Naked on Grave)....
Sing song sung for many suns
Sung in fluttering hearts dying in glare of sun
For when new sun rises on the morrow
To stain sky with pale-lit sorrow
We shall – you and I –
Have forgotten
Have forgotten
The man we watched die on the brow
Bludgeoned black by Brutes we saw before
Bitter day Back in ’08—

No comments:

Post a Comment