Sunday, 10 July 2011

Scream :a brief history of Oppression (Apartheid and its legacy)


undaunted by mountains and rivers
and plains and predatory death
a defiant people made a great trek
in search of freedom lost

the settlers’ plough
smelted and moulded
to work a farmer’s dream
breaking stubborn ground
metal sparking darkened rock
struggling against Africa’s stronghold
battling through weeds and reeds
claiming our acre without shame
frustrated inch by bloody inch
cutting with blistered sweat
and burning toil to deliver the spoils
to a majority indigenous race

the granaries are now full
the cattle and sheep have been fattened
and now the call is for the defeated to rule
take our ancestors chipped tools
nationalise the wealth you deem ‘stolen’

embrace the misery that rages
from the Nile to the Limpopo
your promises remain promises
labour suffering as usual with

lack of education
etceteras of corruption and crime
the eclipse of the continent blots
the sun again.

Malema’s revolutionary call: ‘shoot the boer’
the reviled boers ripped from their farms
go to catch the midnights express
leaving this land of travail saying

when you have starved your people
get Mugabe,
Kaddafi or the
Eurasians to farm it again
leaving here is pain
nothing more to gain
flowing blood
that makes khaki stain


accusing hard-working farmers
encumbered by debt
who combed and levelled thistles and thorns
subduing stubborn veld to create

symmetrical crops and grain fields
who keep the mills grinding
bakery chimneys smoking
between four wired borders
they called their sloth their own
rising before dawn
walking alone into the fields
worries about hail or rain

succoured by a simple
leather bound faith in providence
believing our suffering to be
in proportion to what we can bear
that God controlled our fate
and that of our fragile harvest

red- eyed
we prayed and meditated on an unforgiving land
that thought nothing to miscarriage a good harvest
our way governed by a few non-negotiable principles:
1. do not discredit our God
2. do not deprive us of our land
3. do not disrespect our wives and abuse our children
4. do not touch our guns and never ask to drive our cars

but our generosity to complete strangers is immense
opening up our koeksister and moer coffee kitchens
inviting them to our dinner tables
warming them with homemade brandy
and percale linen and blankets
sending unknown men and women
from our porches as lifelong friends


freedom was never offered to us
like a good-hearted man flicking
a nickel to a homeless beggar

we paid for it dearly, fighting
majestic and terrifying tribes of Zulu warriors
who wanted only our torture,
chanting ravaging foreigner death
of the fair-skinned
honourable contracts and verbal agreements
for land and a right to exist
earned Piet Retief a crushed skull and
a permanent good bye

our forefathers forgot us on the big
old toe of Africa, as they fled back
with east Indian company ships
to pursue occupations growing bulbs
and maturing cheese while we remained
meeting the barbarian hordes
who organised themselves like
sworded red ants and no conciliatory words
to prevent the bloodshed coming

the pastor prayed:

if it is your wish dear lord,
we will perish courageously
but grant us victory in the shadow
of death and we will unify as
new peoples in this heartless country

mothers moulding lead bullets
children loading muskets
fathers dodging spears and keeping
the laager intact by
shooting and knifing the adversary
till the last battle cry echoed

andries Pretorius believed moses
visited the slaughter site where the river
ran with blood tainting the fish eagle’s water
the price of our freedom was the death
of the pagan thousands strewn
and forgotten in the long grass
like a naughty child’s domino tiles

our dead are buried
wounded are tended to
farming commences


plumes of smoke drift over
the karoo land
limpid blue skies turning
grey and flaming red

one kommando farmer
seeing the smoke near his land
races his horse with a rabies mucus froth
to find his life’s work
scorched and burning
and a note dangling
on the front door

scorched earth policy,
children and women
detained until you swear allegiance
to king and country
swinburne soldier poet compares the inmates
to whelps and dams of murderous foes
but the rednecks do better
keeping them in coops like
stray dogs or pathetic stray kittens.

bright eyed children burning with consumption
tormenting guilt of mothers failing to quench
the thirst of the young and the old,
losing their minds and feeding babies
their lacerated blood.

death camp moaning
as gangrene rots
inside tents and coverings
agonised screams as
legs and limbs are amputated.

kommandos overlooking those camps
weep over the suffering
of our loved ones
62000 die in those gentleman’s death camps
and the queen gets the cullinan diamond
for her successful campaign

fearless warriors who use attila acumen in the field
bring the great empire to its lion knees
shooting them down from horseback
simple men that fight
out of a simple conviction that our land
is not going to be sucked dry
by the colonial leeches.
guerilla warriors crawling on proud knees
relinquishing their spirit
for the release of our families
the rednecks relishing the squirming
of a stubborn boer

dirty tricks succeed where battle has failed
to defeat these fighters on the fields of war
bloemfontein decorated with the tombstones of the
albion people and their wealthy exploits


increasing feelings of insecurity
english law prevails and traitors
die in front of firing squads
and hang on the weight of their corded necks

elevated gentry smile in bronze
shakespeare invading every street and boulevard
children receive the victorian rod for
failing english reading and grammar
the civil threats of “if i ever hear
you speak afrikaans you will be expelled”

english aristocrats reach our shores
build mansions and elegant homesteads
along the scenic south ridges looking down on
the misery of the peoples feeling the sting
of taxed oppression and social crimes.

leaving the cape colony to claim independence
we open a diamond encrusted hole
mining and working our wealth
a sense of pride returns

news from the witwatersrand tells that we have found
a vein under the ground that
spurts golden blood and that
we could finance a government for free men.

trooper ships landing after hearing of inland fortunes
the reds marched,
echoing gongs
and drumming like captured monkeys.

my scottish brother did you forget the freedom cry of sir william wallace
my irish compatriot did you forget the yearning sighs of saint patrick

generals chatting up a storm
with old roman sophism
over tea with honey
become offended and declare war
using their wealth in their favour

as far as her majesties sun rises
polished button troops escape
that horrid island taking in the sun
and learning their safari trip entails
more than seeing the big five of Africa

friedrich engels notes the successes
of the industrial revolution
the power loom and spinning jenny
ransacking and mangling the bodies of
cheap laboured work house minors and woman

working them 16 hours a day in low,
damp ceilinged factories
a lack of running water and sewerage,
misery increases
manchester becomes a place of cripples and amputees

an empire clothes it’s young ones
in helmet and uniform promising them three
square meals and a few pounds to send home to
welfare families starving in english towns


we serve a cucumber sandwich queen
giving our lives in two wars
when the northern hemisphere turns mad
bi polar churchill sends us to die
in suicide missions in caen and tripoli

independence given after enough blood
is spilled and king george visits our shores
giving folk the royal wave and a practised smile

pennies and pounds become rands and cents
afrikaners control our destiny again
never! we cry under oath
will the boers submit again
we would rather die on our feet
than crawl on our knees seeking mercy


apartheid codified, promulgated and entrenched
diseased act of our leaders to neutralize
and destroy any neurotic threat
fearing to become slaves they enslave a nation

boers exchanging khaki
for cotton lounge shirts and polyester suits
enjoying the image of the master in their gilt-edged mirrors.
black framed frowning officials zealously planning group areas
and keeping the best prime property for the new found afrikaner elite

one morning coming into district six
with earth moving machines
the army and the police smilingly
do their enforcement work
relocating complete communities
and planting them in shacks in the
dust and grime of the cape flats.

fair-skinned coloureds applying for id cards
officials testing their ethnicity by asking them to say thirteen
failing the tests they relegate them to garden ‘boys’
and kitchen girls for the rest of their natural lives
smiling subserviently for a sjambok hiding
and weekly pay that consists of half a litre harvest wine
living on ‘the book’ they never will repay the debt
to fill their stomachs and to raise their children.

neither black nor white they centre
on the humiliation that they exist
creations of prohibited enjoyment
after inter racial copulation of boer and bantu.

never really supporting the boer mandate
never integrated with the fate of the blacks

floating about and fitting the puzzle
never finding the piece that will connect their identity
in the bigger scope of things

feeling the desolation of indifference and subservience
teenagers become despondent, forming gangs
drugging, fucking and killing themselves
into a stupor and hormonal hysteria
crying in bloody t-shirts that they also want
to be doctors, pilots and engineers

hopeless coloured boys robbing their elders on the railway bridge
sweet sixteen mommies
with clinging snot-nose babies found stealing in shoprite
dixie boys and american gangs fighting
the system against each other and afrikaner cops
coming to despatch them from this earth

wastelands of people staying in subsidized pigeon holes
overcrowded cubicle flats of cockroach misery
blocking the sewage
tripping the electricity

breaking fathers’ spirits
ogling the depths of a beer bottle
emptying a week’s livelihood
gurgling it down at the station
going home and handing small change to feed the kids

breaking mothers’ desperate hearts
working victoria street fishnet style
or getting it behind from dry dock china sailors
feeding her whelps after a night’s buttocks drilling

rubbish collectors singing operettas
maids reciting homers iliad
boys replicating god’s finger
holding a nokia on council walls
all going to a bloody sorry waste
of humane opportunity
genius is skin deep
and the bronze on you does not fit buddy

power never shares
the english taught us well

psycho barbwire dividing:

the master and the slave
the victor and the defeated
the rich and the poor


leaving rural kraals
to find work in the cities
leaving wives and children behind
promising to send a subsistence and some letters

going to hostels and townships
working the mines
dying of asbestoses
buried in unmarked municipality graves

walking through afrikaner suburbs
looking for gardening or ironing jobs
stopped by police to check the ‘dom pass’

checking the time
running fast for the last train,
the clock rule prevails
otherwise a good beating and a night in the ping
going back to paraffin shacks
winds ripping on oil skin roofs
cold frosting and heat perspiring
on cardboard box walls

growing resentment of
whites only signs into banks, restaurants,
parks, beaches, and public toilets
verbal, physical, emotional abuse,
cursing their predicament

the neighbour cries as her husband is taken away
by the security police
beating him into a yellow service van
for anti government activities

activists sent to robben island for twenty years hard labour
tortured to a mental fry... cleverness rocking in psychiatrist ward
despatched from life in pretoria correctional facility
the wife vainly enquiring about the whereabouts of her husband

plaatjies forms the african national congress
awareness starts with steve biko dying violently in detention
bleeding empty for being a clever kaffir
resistance grows with walter sisulu
conviction increases with desmond tutu
nelson mandela cool calculator for freedom
takes the gamble for the collective relief of suffering
knowing the rivionia trial could cost him his life
not recanting he takes detention for 27 years of his
life...working ceaselessly in a confined space
to direct the apartheid theatre

the african youth rises up in the townships, throwing
the bones for their futures
burning tyres, obstructing paths, with mere
stones they confront the military,
willing to fight to the death
in sharpeville the armed forces shooting
rubber bullets, then loading live rounds
shooting children in the back as they flee

poor hector peterson picking up the last brick
gets three in the chest and dies in his brothers arms
a journalist gets that award winning picture
and the world rages calling an end to this horror

fw de klerk having his cigarette in mandela’s cell
calls a truce and works ceaselessly to start the countdown
for the end of the segregation regime
he instructs the release of nelson mandela.

outraged silence prevails in the suburbs and joy
sounds in the ghettos.


south africa decides the fate of the nation
through democracy leadership goes
to former freedom fighters and power
belongs to the poverty stricken population.


father leaves home early
not returning the evening
mother fears the worst
father talking the previous evening
of death
stroking the border scars on his body
crying “why did we die in the war!”

mother sends me to the military graveyard
in maitland walking the numerous rows of white crosses
tombs revealing the loss of 17 years old boys
fighting the communist insurgents on the borders
of namibia and angola

finding him asleep on my oldest brothers
grave i wake him, tell him to come home.

struggling with him i never saw him sobbing before
grieving the death of his child who fought
for country and cause
cursing himself saying that he pushed his boy
to protect the homeland
from the nation’s enemy
cutting his face with the pins
of the pro patria medal and crux honorius
he received for bravery
he cries
“for nothing my child, nothing!”


the once fervent dutch reformed church
and national party, that indoctrinated the young
to support apartheid, change their ideology overnight
and instruct the young to have a forgiving attitude

and to ask god’s grace for the
terrible sins of the fathers

teachers filling the boer youth with angst
decrying the lot of our people
preaching our downfall
and the suffering and humiliation to come.
defeated talk of elders and parents
spitting bitterness and hopelessness about any future
the young denouncing their culture and inheritance
changing their names and learning english,
playing british

signs of insipid suicide in the eyes of tomorrow’s future
principles fading
and the overwhelming sense of being sold out
gall on the swollen tongue


the wheel of power
turns steadily
the most stubborn of convictions change—
as does the constitution.

hardened afrikaner patriots
zealous former torture camp commanders
and the intellectuals of apartheid
cry and apologise for their iniquities
hug and embrace desmond tutu and his
righteous entourage of godly coloured men
and the truth escapes their lying bellies
to save themselves they bad mouth
everything that was worthy to be spared
slaughtering the spirit
of a culture that groomed

cj langehoven
and chris barnard

confessing how under the banner of segregated politics
they killed, enslaved and oppressed out of
sheer individual pleasure to hurt.


with nowhere to go
the once mute africans chant
for justice and feverishly threaten
one bullet one boer.

azapo screams
to drive the boers into the oceans

bombarded with documentaries
and anti-apartheid propaganda
walking head down and hearing the insults, apologies
and the accusations,
i wonder who is to blame
i am just a pimply teenager
groping already to understand
my hormonal pendulum moods

one african boy approaches me and spits in my face
calling me a racist dog
keeping silent i make haste because the violent crowd
watches my every move and reaction
reason will not convince them
and death is close.

i also know discrimination
my father is a railway man
hard worker but really going nowhere
average mind and kind spirited

he does his best providing for his family
listens to the powers without question
humbly believes every word they say
good fortune for not being rebellious
teaches us the simple tenets of our inequality
unspoken rules about our conduct
if the ‘bosses’ come to visit
teaches us the tenets
that all blacks and coloureds
are inferior to white men.
teaches us wrong but believes it through habit
he lovingly protects us and guides us
to fit in to the well- programmed machine
that controls all of us.

“do not speak to the blacks unless you want to go to jail”
“do not walk with the coloureds unless you want to get
a salt bath caning at the court”
the little railway town divides into four
segregated areas
the black township outside on the national road
the coloured location on your way to the town
the railway community on the outskirts of town
the whites in the affluent suburbs
the professional and mercantile community in the hub of the town

the blacks hate all whites and some coloureds
the coloureds feel a shy contempt for the whites
and hate all blacks
the whites feeling pragmatic irritation
towards the coloureds hate all blacks
the white railway workers feel subservient
to the upper class whites
the upper class whites feel superior
to the railway class acting snobbish
and just indifferent toward the coloured folk
the attorney’s son is always class captain or prefect
the banker’s daughter is spring queen of the town fair
passing with distinction
teachers predict my future
reprimanding me for thinking
i can become a medical doctor
a railway worker like my father
i will become


the new government fast tracks
evelopment in the workplace
initiates affirmative action on recruitment
and selection of previously disadvantaged people

matriculating, straight flush of distinctions
affirmative action, no bursary
affirmative action, no work

work as a car washer, car guard, security guard
no promotion, affirmative action
work double shifts, overtime
cut back on necessities to save for my studies

study with difficulty
boarding with runny nose poor whites
passing cum laude in economics
no prospects, affirmative action
leave the country
flee affirmative action
make 7 million euros in a year
the government taxes me and calls me
privileged white aristocrat sitting on old money

*16 *
the land of the south celebrates
almost two decades of democracy
brags about the most progressive constitution
on the globe

but as old monuments are ripped apart
and street names are changed to honour freedom fighters
the country is thrown into hell

johannesburg becomes the most dangerous city
in the world to live in

and the etceteras
of hideous crimes erupt on the scene

government fraud, corruption and misappropriation
of much-needed funds for hiv orphans and the old
overflowing, decaying derelict hospitals
and deteriorating basic services
incompetent municipalities and sewage overflowing
into the main roads of communities
devastating strikes, riots and unrest engulf townships
pregnant slums, poverty increasing
due to lack of employment opportunities
stagnant home affairs department
scamming housing developers
bankrupt broadcast company

condemned to a freedom the world celebrates
this brief history of oppression gives me
meridian flight of thought


recalling tolkien’s lord of the rings
power in the hand of any man
destroys himself and others
but who will be the burdened ring bearer
who destroys the root of all evil
dropping the symbol of power into the fiery fires
of mount doom

no more political utopia fancies for me
king’s noblest intentions do not save
the hunger of one starving baby
if he survives they give him a rally shirt to teach hate
and the boers will in turn be taught to hate back
because we are either oppressed or superior


i offer no solution
god forgive us all for the violations we perpetrate
against others and ourselves
this is not just a story about the boers it represents all the

red indians
negros of the american south
rainforest tribes
street children of brazil
victims of apartheid
victims of idi amin
victims of atrocities in libya, egypt, iraq, afghanistan
victims of the first world war / second world war
genocide in rwanda and sudan
victims of fascist italy
victims of fascist spain
nazis of germany and the holocaust
genocide in bosnia
aborigines of australia
victims of communist russia
victims of communist china
victims of the pol pot
victims of the tamil tigers
victims of fidel castro
the pain of the tibetans


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