Bernard Dadié on African Immigration and the Return

African tears
Dry your tears Africa
Sèche tes pleurs Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
dans l’orage et la tempête des voyages infructueux.

Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
Les mains pleines de jouets
Et le coeur plein d’amour.
Ils reviennent te vêtir
De leurs rêves et de leurs espoirs.

Dry your tears, Afrika!
Your Children come back to you
Out of the storm and squalls of fruitless journeys.

Dry your tears, Afrika!
Your children come back to you
Their hand full of playthings
And their heart full of love
They return to clothe you
In their dreams in their hopes

 

With the end of the ‘year of return‘, I think parts of the poem above by Bernard Binlin Dadié are appropriate and perfect to talk about African immigration and illustrate the return. Africa’s children are coming back, and they are coming to contribute, and also to build her… this applies to those of the diaspora whose ancestors made it to the new world in ships of the Mali emperor’s (Kankan Musa‘s predecessor) or via slave ships, or simply to recent African immigration to other part of the world: Africa needs you, and together, united, we have the potential to usher in a new positive era.  Excerpts above are from the poem titled “Dry your Tears Africa” or “Sèche Tes Pleurs,” published in 1967 by Bernard Dadié“Seche Tes Pleurs” de Bernard Binlin Dadié / “Dry your Tears Afrika” by Bernard B. Dadié

‘Antsa’ by Jacques Rabemananjara

rabemananjara
Jacques Rabemananjara (Project for Innovative Poetry – PIP)

Today, we will join the poet Jacques Rabemananjara in singing the praises of the Great Island… you know the one and only, Madagascar! Published in 1956 in Présence Africaine, Antsa is an ode to the Great island, a love song to Rabemananjara’s land of birth, Madagascar. Jacques Rabemananjara, like Léon Gontran Damas, was also part of the Negritude movement in France; he was said to be the most prolific writer of the negritude generation after Léopold Sédar Senghor, and he had the first négritude poetry published. He was a Malagasy politician, playwright and poet, who served as a government minister,  and later rose to the rank of Vice President of Madagascar under Philibert Tsiranana. He was one of the heroes of the Malagasy independence.

 

Madagascar
Madagascar

As you read Antsa, enjoy the island of syllables of flame, feel the love, the sweetness sweeter than honey, the patriotism expressed like the most ardent lover, the most faithful, feel the oneness with the homeland as no owl’s cry or burning could disturb the love the author feels for his motherland. Enjoy it, and try expressing it for the land of your birth… not the people… the land and its beauty!

 

Antsa par Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Ile !

Ile aux syllabes de flammes !

Jamais ton nom

Ne  fut plus cher à mon âme !

Ile,

Ne fut plus doux à mon cœur !

Ile aux syllabes de flamme,

Madagascar !

 

Quelle résonnance !

Les  mots

fondent dans ma bouche :

Le miel des claires saisons

Dans le mystère de tes sylves,

Madagascar !

 

Je mords la chair vierge et rouge

Avec l’âpre ferveur

Du mourant aux dents de lumière

Madagascar !

 

Un viatique d’innocence

dans mes entrailles d’affamé,

Je m’allongerai sur ton sein avec la fouge

du plus ardent de tes amants,

du plus fidèle,

Madagascar !

 

Qu’importent le hululement des chouettes

le vol rasant et bas

des hiboux apeurés sous le faîtage

de la maison incendiée !oh, les renards,

qu’ils lèchent

leur peau puante du sang des poussins, du sang auréolé des flamants-roses !

Nous autres, les hallucinés de l’azur,

nous scrutons  éperdument tout l’infini de bleu de la nue,

Madagascar !

 

Antsa by Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Island!

Island with syllables of flames!

Never your name

Was so dear to my soul!

Island,

So sweet to my heart!

Island with syllables of flames,

Madagascar!

 

Such resonance!

The words

Melt in my mouth:

The honey of clear seasons

In the mystery of your forests,

Madagascar!

 

I bite the virgin and red flesh

With the bitter fervor

Of the dying with bright teeth

Madagascar!

 

A viaticum of innocence

In my guts filled with hunger,

I will lie on your breast with the passion

Of the most ardent of your lovers,

Of the most faithful,

Madagascar!

 

No matter how much the owls hoot,

The low flying and frightened owls under ridge

Or the burning house! Oh the foxes,

May they lick

Their pungent skin from the chicks’ blood, the haloed blood of pink flamingoes!

We, the hallucinated of the azure,

We madly scour the infinite of the blue from the clouds

Madagascar!

 

 

Antsa, 1956, Présence Africaine

Jacques RABEMANANJARA

“Ils sont venus ce soir” / “They Came Tonight” by Leon Gontran Damas

Léon_Damas
Léon-Gontran Damas

They Came Tonight” is a poem by the celebrated French Guyanese author Léon-Gontran Damas. He is renowned as one of the founders of the Négritude movement, along Aimé Césaire and Leopold Senghor. In 1935, the three men published the first issue of the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student), which provided the foundation for what is now known as the Négritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s, aimed at raising and cultivating “Black consciousness” across Africa and its diaspora; this movement rejected the political, social and moral domination of the West.

Slavery_Ship1
Slaves on board a ship

They Came Tonight” is a poem similar to ‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo. In this case, it talks about when the Europeans came during slavery time, one night as the drums were thundering, and after that many Africans were taken away from their homes, from their loved ones, many were captured, and the day was never the same, history was never the same, families were destroyed, kingdoms destroyed, and to this day, Africa has not recovered for 400 years of slavery. This poem was first published in Pigments 1937, and later in Présence africaine, 1962.

 

Ils sont venus ce soir (Pour Léopold-Sedar Senghor)

ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie

des yeux
la frénésie des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues
DEPUIS
combien de MOI MOI MOI
sont morts
depuis qu’ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie
des yeux
la frénésie
des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues

They Came Tonight
for Léopold-Sedar Senghor

They came the night the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
the frenzy

of eyes
the frenzy of hands
the frenzy
of the feet of statues
SINCE
how many of ME ME ME
are dead
since they came that night when the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
frenzy
of eyes
frenzy
of hands
frenzy
of the feet of statues

A Gift from the African Heritage Blog

To celebrate our 10-years anniversary, one of our contributors is offering you this amazing book on Amazon . A king, a beautiful princess, and a pot of hot chili sauce… the combination is bound to make you laugh. Enjoy this book, an African Children’s book, for young and young at heart! It is on kindle e-book in both French and English.

 

cover-image
The Hare, The Princess, and the Hot Chili Sauce

 

‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe

Colonization in Africa
Village school in French West Africa (AOF) 1900s – French assimilationism (Louis Sonolet, Source: http://exhibitions.nypl.org)

The poem ‘My Name‘ by Magoleng wa Selepe has touched many strong chords. It is the truth, and still rings true today. During colonial times, our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were stripped of their names and identity: to go to school, they had to have a European name, and very often their own names were distorted because the European colonizer could not spell it properly. Depending on the origin of the colonizer, whether it was France, Great Britain, Germany, or Portugal, one ended up with a French, British, German, or Portuguese name. Enjoy !!!

African Heritage

African Savanna

I just thought about what happened to our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers during colonial times: to go to school African children were forced by European missionaries to adopt a christian name such as John, Peter (Jean, Pierre), etc… as opposed to their good old African name Nomzimo, Makeba, Ndoumbe, Keïta, etc.  Thus many Africans who would have just worn the name ‘Ndoumbe Mpondo‘ or ‘Binlin Dadié‘ or ‘Um Nyobé‘ had to adopt a European name such as John + their own name, such that they became: John Ndoumbe Mpondo or Bernard Binlin Dadié or Ruben Um Nyobé.  To this day, the tradition has remained… most Africans would have three or four names: their family name, and their given name, plus the European first name and in some cases a European middle name as well.  The poem below entitled…

View original post 116 more words

‘Love Poem for my Country’ by Sandile Dikeni

IMG_1652
Mt Bamboutos in Cameroon

Reblogging this all-time favorite poem on the African Heritage Blog.

A few questions for the readers: what do you like the most about this poem by Sandile Dikeni? What is special? And what made you connect to it? What in this poem describes your country or is there something in it which describes your country?

African Heritage

An antelope at dusk An antelope at dusk in the African Savannah

In the past I have always wished that we, Africans, could be patriotic.  I came across this beautiful poem ‘Love poem for my country‘ by South African writer Sandile Dikeni.  I really enjoy the way the author describes his country, the valleys, the birds, the ancient rivers, and its beauty.  He feels the peace, the wealth, and the health his country brings.  He is one with his country.  He is at home!  His country is not just words or food, or friends, or family, it is more, it is his essence!  That is true patriotism, the bond that links us to the bone to our motherland.  Enjoy!

My country is for love
so say its valleys
where ancient rivers flow
the full circle of life
under the proud eye of birds
adorning the…

View original post 110 more words

Toni Morrison : First Black Woman to Win a Nobel Prize in Literature

Toni Morrison_1
Toni Morrison (Source: OvationTV.com)

Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to win a Nobel prize in literature, has passed away at the age of 88. I have read some of her books: “The Bluest Eye” which was part of my Dad’s collection and which I devoured, “Beloved” (I saw the movie, and was left with a ‘What just happened?’ feeling at the end of it), “Song of Solomon,” and “Sula“… I have to admit that I started “Jazz” but never finished it for lack of time. To be honest, Toni Morrison and I did not jive… I read the books, but I always felt like I needed to read them more than once to actually understand them. I believe that was her signature: her books were no cookie-cutter type-literature, but profound, heartbreaking, and conscience shakers; they had this earth-shattering effect, where you really walked a mile in the protagonist’s shoes. They also always had this musical and poetic feel to them, … maybe that’s why I kept coming for more?

 

Toni Morrison_Beloved_3
‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison had an outstanding career. She started late as a writer at age 39 and was editor of textbooks at Random House before fiction: she was the first African American editor there. She then became one of the world acclaimed writer, and professor at some of the best universities in the world: Cornell University and Princeton University. She won the Nobel laureate in Literature in 1993, thereby becoming the first and only Black woman to win it to date. She was even on the cover of Time Magazine in 1998, only the second female writer of fiction and second black writer of fiction to appear on one of the most significant U.S. magazine covers of the era. And … she of course, benefited from the Oprah effect!

 

Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful — a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy,” President Obama wrote Tuesday on his Facebook page. “She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.”

Narrative has never been merely entertainment for me,” she said in her Nobel lecture. “It is, I believe, one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge.”

She also said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”  So get ready… it’s your turn to carry Toni Morrison’s torch!

 

“Independencia Total” by Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo

500 Fcfa_BEAO
1000 Fcfa_BEAO

I recently read the national anthem of São Tomé and Príncipe, and thought of how much it represents the aspirations of the entire African continent, especially for French speaking countries which are still under that awful nazi currency system called FCFA through which France has been siphoning over 500 billion dollars every year for free! What do I mean by free? Well, because the FCFA (France’s Colonial Tax on Africa) is a currency of servitude and is a colonial tax paid by African countries to France (Africa is funding Europe!). 14 african countries (15 if you count also the Comoros whose currency is not called the same, but is nonetheless pegged to France) are obliged by France, through a colonial pact, to put 50% (it used to be 85%, then 65%, …) of their foreign reserves into France’s central bank under the French minister of Finance control. As we speak today in 2019, Senegal and about 13 other African countries still have to pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse are killed or victim of a coup. To learn more, also read The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa.

Sao Tome Flag
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe

The national anthem of São Tomé and Príncipe, rightfully titled Independência total (Total Independence), was written by Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo, the celebrated Sao Tomean poet and writer who was a minister on several occasions and also the president of the national Assembly. Her poem for the national anthem was adopted in 1975. As you read it, wherever you see Sao Tome and Principe, replace by Africa, African continent and claim the total independence: “Warriors in the war without weapons, Live flame in the soul of the people, Congregating the sons of [Africa], Around the immortal Fatherland, Total independence, total and complete.” Enjoy!

Chorus:

Independência total,

Glorioso canto do povo,

Independência total,

Hino sagrado de combate.

 

Dinamismo

Na luta nacional,

Juramento eterno

No país soberano de São Tomé e Príncipe.

Guerrilheiro da guerra sem armas na mão,

Chama viva na alma do povo,

Congregando os filhos das ilhas

Em redor da Pátria Imortal.

Independência total, total e completa,

Construindo, no progresso e na paz,

A nação mais ditosa da Terra,

Com os braços heroicos do povo.

 

Chorus

Trabalhando, lutando, presente em vencendo,

Caminhamos a passos gigantes

Na cruzada dos povos africanos,

Hasteando a bandeira nacional.

Voz do povo, presente, presente em conjunto,

Vibra rijo no coro da esperança

Ser herói no hora do perigo,

Ser herói no ressurgir do País.

Chorus

Dinamismo

Na luta nacional,

Juramento eterno

No pais soberano de São Tomé e Príncipe.

Chorus:

Total independence,

Glorious song of the people,

Total independence,

Sacred hymn of combat.

 

Dynamism

In the national struggle,

Eternal oath

To the sovereign country of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Warriors in the war without weapons,

Live flame in the soul of the people,

Congregating the sons of the islands

Around the Immortal Fatherland.

Total independence, total and complete,

Building, in progress and peace,

The happiest nation on earth,

With the heroic arms of the people.

 

Chorus

Working, struggling, struggling and conquering,

We go ahead with giant steps

In the crusade of the African peoples,

Raising the national flag.

Voice of the people, present, present and united,

Strong beat in the heart of hope

To be a hero in the hour of peril,

A hero of the Nation’s resurgence.

Chorus

Dynamism

In the national struggle,

Eternal oath

To the sovereign country of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Proud to be Black: A Quote by Bernard Dadié

Mwekassa1
Zack Mwekassa, Former World Champion of Boxing and Kick Boxing (Source: Glory KickBoxing)

Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir, … Je suis content de la forme de ma tête faite pour porter le Monde, Satisfait de la forme de mon nez Qui doit humer tout le vent du Monde, Heureux de la forme de mes jambes Prêtes à courir toutes les étapes du Monde.

I thank you God, for making me black, I am happy with the shape of my head shaped to carry the world, Satisfied with the shape of my nose which has to smell all the scents of the world, Happy with the shape of my legs ready to run all the steps of the world.

Bernard Binlin Dadié.  The poem above is titled “I Thank you God” or “I thank you my God,”