Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Ray of Light
In preparation for a city-wide poetry, reading, speech-writing and art competition last month, we held an in-school tryout to determine which students would be representing Fezeka. I was asked to adjudicate. Initially reluctant (“How can I judge their poetry?!”), by the end I was so grateful to have been selected for the job. To say I was blown away by the quality of their works seems inadequate. Stirring, emotional, eloquently-worded original poetry flowed out of their young mouths like it had been doing so for years. Some had found out about the competition the day prior and written their pieces the night before. I could not tell which were which. Their poems left the audience in tears…wild applause and cheers. Absolutely fantastic.
The subject matters of the poems were of note as well. Of 17 poets, 2 wrote about experiences of rape, 2 about HIV and AIDS, 2 were about war, 3 were about identity and sense of self. The remainder touched on dreams for the future, fighting discrimination and the search for equality, among others.
After an extremely difficult selection process I was able to decide on the two winners. We entered one student from Grade 10 and one from Grade 11. Just before the Easter break respective school winners were invited to an event at the Cape Town Central Library, where students from different schools got a chance to see and hear the works of their peers. Of about 90 students, only 5 were asked to read theirs out loud. The poem below is our Grade 10 student’s entry, which was one of the 5 selected to be read. The poem that follows that is our Grade 11 students’ entry. No one winner was chosen from the group and all students were given R100 certificates to CNA, which is a book and stationary store. Our 8 students (2 from each of the poetry, reading, speech-writing and art categories), were all ecstatic about their prizes and when we took them to the store to use their certificates they literally were like kids in candy stores. Only this candy was books and school supplies. Which one could easily argue is much better for your teeth.
Will we ever reach the Promised Land?
Remember the days,
When Apartheid reigned?
People suffered and cried,
Till they couldn’t cry no more.
Parents were taken away,
And children left without hope.
Blood was shed, sacrifices were made,
Some were failed and some were prisoners.
In the name of “inkululeko”, freedom.
Fists were lifted high, people screaming:
“Amandla, amandla nga wethu!”
The power is ours for they wanted to reach
the Promised Land,
Land of freedom.
Finally the day that all awaited arrived.
Freedom arrived, people jumped up and down saying:
“We are the Rainbow Nation”.
But what lies behind the rainbow?
We see crime and HIV seriously want to take control,
Rape and abuse are becoming a tradition,
Political intolerance is becoming fashion.
And now we cry everyday asking:
“Will we ever reach the Promised Land?”
Remember ‘Aluta continua’:
The Battle is still on.
I am an African Girl.
I am proud to be an African Girl.
I live in Africa.
I dress like an African.
I speak an African language.
I eat African food because
I am an African Girl.
I am as black as black can be.
Dark as sunshine and lily flowers.
When it comes to reading I
usually go to the library to brush
dust from ancient texts.
Because I am and African and
I want to know my background.
From scrolls I will read about my past.
To new generations who are trying to
run away from their cultures,
I wish that they would follow and enjoy my culture.
I am a natural resource.
When it comes to hair, I am as natural as they come.
I don’t wear artificials because I can’t change my nature
because I want to look like
somebody that I am not
I am a natural girl.
When it comes to cosmetics,
I use Sunlight blue soap.
Because I am an African Girl.