Saturday, October 8, 2011

Owen Maseko, from NoViolet blogs

Zim visual and installation artist, Owen Maseko, makes a visual interpretation of a scene from NoViolet Bulawayo's "Snapshots" at the Byo launch of "Where to Now?" by amabooks on 09-24-2011. Maseko is of course one of our most renowned artists, but he has also been persecuted by the Zimbabwean government for his Gukurahundi exhibition, a reminder that as Zim artists, we are not free. Below is a poem I wrote during his incarceration in 2010.

they say Owen Maseko
be causing trouble—like,
undermining the authority
of the president, like
brushes and colors in hand,
he be painting truth, making truth, like,
shedding dark blood, digging old skulls
unburying the murdered, imagine that,
like giving them bright-red voices,
after all these years - almost 30 solid,
saying their names, hanging the dead
on a clothesline for all to see,
like nobody didn’t teach him - didn't tell him
Zim is a land of silent silence,
where they edit expression on final cut pro
with police whips and guns and prisons
people living hand to mouth,
famished for rights, for freedom,
for the sound of their own true voices
see us walk like zombies in Zim, like
paralyzed by fear of the state in Zim
we could flee our shadows in Zim,
we see nothing, we hear nothing in Zim
let them silence us, beat us in Zim, like
what does freedom matter in Zim?, like
we have Owen Maseko to show, right
now here’s staring at a blank cell
reading the writing on the wall
scribbled in blood, left hand too,
“Jestina Mukoko was here” like
we have Gukurahundi to show
we have murambatsvina to show
we have persecuted whites to show
we have the 2008 election to show
but you can’t ask us nothing coz
we won’t say nothing, but like,
in our dreams though, we roar with rage,
wave bloodied shirts in the wind,
wave Gukurahundi skulls and femurs,
we knock down prisons, like, we throw
rocks at police, we gut jails, like,
we protest until they free Owen Maseko,
in our dreams we are almost brave, and
the president is an old man who fears our power. © NVB