Uprising era poem from South Africa

by Limbic on August 28, 2002

“Cosatu – You Xhosas

Ubuthi of tribalism
ubisi of hatred

fed to us by false inyangas
at nightshift
swallowed at lunchtime over a labalaba game
at clocking-in time we gulp it
then sway the pangas
and we drink some more.

“Cosatu you’ve had it” workers chant
“you are against our bosses
you affront our chief
Cosatu – You Xhosas
you are foreigners
stealing our jobs and our money …
Tyre-necklaces for you for your exit
despatch: to Zulu upstairs
there is more space there than in Kwa Makhutha, Inanda,
go Pondos go. there might even be jobs there
making some rain”.

A councillor struts out from his shop
hawking the snakes he has trained to bonga
false chiefs
they even sing skewed words to Ulundi
in nighttime assemblies
he orders pits to be dug next to our Branbury Mills.

What stokvel is this
with workers in giya
swaying pangas stained with the
class’s own blood?

Notes: ubuthi (Zulu): poisonous substance; ubisi (Zulu): milk; inyanga (Zulu): so-called witch doctors; labalaba: checkers game, popular with factory workers at
lunch time; panga: machettes; Ulundi: Capital of Zululand; Branbury Mill: rubber making machine; stokvel: a cooperative party; giya: a war dance.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment