‘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…

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“If You Want to Know Me” by Noémia de Sousa

Noemia de Sousa
Noemia de Sousa (Source: Estudos Lusofonos)

Today I give you a poem by the world-renowned Mozambican author Noémia de Sousa. This poem gives vivid pictures: from the empty eye sockets which have lost hope, the mouth torn open in an anguished wound, a body tattooed with wounds unseen and seen… etc. Just reading it, one can feel the pain, see it, and touch it; it is so profound! Yet, she claims that this body is magnificent, that through the pain, it is beautiful. So what body is she talking about? Why, Africa, of course! She wrote this at a time when African countries were still under colonialism, and through this she introduces us to a beautiful Africa, which has gone through so much pain, but yet is still beautiful, and still rises. In general, I will take it a step further, and say that no matter what pain we go through today, we are still beautiful, and we will still rise! (* Maconde — uma das etnias de Moçambique.) Enjoy!

 

==========

Se Me Quiseres Conhecer
By Noémia de Sousa

Se me quiseres conhecer,
estuda com olhos de bem ver
esse pedaço de pau preto
que um desconhecido irmão maconde*
de mãos inspiradas
talhou e trabalhou
em terras distantes lá do Norte.

Ah, essa sou eu:
órbitas vazias no desespero de possuir a vida.
boca rasgada em feridas de angústia,
mãos enormes espalmadas,
erguendo-se em jeito de quem implora e ameaça,
corpo tatuado de feridas visíveis e invisíveis
pelos chicotes da escravatura…
Torturada e magnífica.
Altiva e mística.
Africa da cabeça aos pés
— Ah, essa sou eu!

Se quiseres compreender-me
vem debruçar-te sobre minha alma de Africa,
nos gemidos dos negros no cais
nos batuques frenéticos dos muchopes
na rebeldia dos machanganas
na estranha melancolia se evolando…
duma canção nativa, noite dentro…

E nada mais me perguntes,
se é que me queres conhecer…
Que eu não sou mais que um búzio de carne
onde a revolta de África congelou
seu grito inchado de esperança.

If You Want to Know Me
By Noémia de Sousa

If you want to know who I am,
Examine with careful eyes
That piece of black wood
Which an unknown Maconde brother
With inspired hands
Carved and worked
In distant lands to the North.

Ah, she is who I am:
Empty eye sockets despairing of possessing life.
A mouth slashed with wounds of anguish, huge flattened hands,
Raised as though to implore and threaten,
Body tattooed with visible and invisible scars
By the hard whips of slavery…
Tortured and magnificent.
Proud and mystical.
Africa from head to toe
-ah, she is who I am!

If you want to understand me
Come and bend over my African soul,
In the groans of the Negroes on the docks
In the frenzied dances of the Chopes
In the rebelliousness of the Shaganas
In the strange melancholy evaporating…
From a native song, into the night …

And ask me nothing more,
If you really wish to know me…
For I am no more than a shell of flesh
In which the revolt of Africa congealed
Its cry swollen with hope.

“Nuit de Sine” Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Night in Sine” by Leopold Sedar Senghor

Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor

Today, I will publish another poem,” Nuit de Sine / Night in Sine,” by Léopold Sédar Senghor. The poem was published in Oeuvre Poetique, Paris, Seuil, 1990 P. 14-15.  The English translation was done by Melvin Dixon, in The Collected Poems, 1998, Univ. of Virginia Press.

Nuit de Sine

Femme, pose sur mon front tes mains balsamiques,
tes mains douces plus que fourrure.
Là-haut les palmes balancées qui bruissent dans la haute brise nocturne
À peine. Pas même la chanson de nourrice.
Qu’il nous berce, le silence rythmé.
Écoutons son chant, écoutons battre notre sang sombre, écoutons
Battre le pouls profond de l’Afrique dans la brume des villages perdus.

Voici que décline la lune lasse vers son lit de mer étale
Voici que s’assoupissent les éclats de rire, que les conteurs eux-mêmes
Dodelinent de la tête comme l’enfant sur le dos de sa mère
Voici que les pieds des danseurs s’alourdissent,
que s’alourdit la langue des chœurs alternés.

C’est l’heure des étoiles et de la Nuit qui songe
S’accoude à cette colline de nuages, drapée dans son long pagne de lait.
Les toits des cases luisent tendrement.
Que disent-ils, si confidentiels, aux étoiles ?
Dedans, le foyer s’éteint dans l’intimité d’odeurs âcres et douces.

Femme, allume la lampe au beurre clair, que causent autour les Ancêtres
comme les parents, les enfants au lit.
Écoutons la voix des Anciens d’Elissa. Comme nous exilés
Ils n’ont pas voulu mourir, que se perdît par les sables leur torrent séminal.
Que j’écoute, dans la case enfumée que visite un reflet d’âmes propices
Ma tête sur ton sein chaud comme un dang au sortir du feu et fumant
Que je respire l’odeur de nos Morts, que je recueille et redise leur voix vivante,
que j’apprenne à
Vivre avant de descendre, au-delà du plongeur,
dans les hautes profondeurs du sommeil.

 

Night in Sine

Woman, place your soothing hands upon my brow,
Your hands softer than fur.
Above us balance the palm trees, barely rustling
In the night breeze. Not even a lullaby.
Let the rhythmic silence cradle us.
Listen to its song. Hear the beat of our dark blood,
Hear the deep pulse of Africa in the mist of lost villages.

Now sets the weary moon upon its slack seabed
Now the bursts of laughter quiet down, and even the storyteller
Nods his head like a child on his mother’s back
The dancers’ feet grow heavy, and heavy, too,
Come the alternating voices of singers.

Now the stars appear and the Night dreams
Leaning on that hill of clouds, dressed in its long, milky pagne.
The roofs of the huts shine tenderly. What are they saying
So secretly to the stars? Inside, the fire dies out
In the closeness of sour and sweet smells.

Woman, light the clear-oil lamp. Let the Ancestors
Speak around us as parents do when the children are in bed.
Let us listen to the voices of the Elissa Elders. Exiled like us
They did not want to die, or lose the flow of their semen in the sands.
Let me hear, a gleam of friendly souls visits the smoke-filled hut,
My head upon your breast as warm as tasty dang streaming from the fire,
Let me breathe the odor of our Dead, let me gather
And speak with their living voices, let me learn to live
Before plunging deeper than the diver
Into the great depths of sleep.

 

 

Chaînes de Bernard Dadié /Chains by Bernard Dadie

Dadie_1
Bernard Dadie (Abidjan.net)

Today, I thought that this poem by Bernard Dadié will be very appropriate. We wear a lot of chains, and the oppressed people of this world may want all the gags removed. Enjoy!

Chaînes

 Quelles sont lourdes, lourdes, les chaînes,

Que le Nègre met au cou du Nègre.

Pour complaire aux maîtres de l’heure.

 

De grâce n’arrêtez pas l’élan d’un peuple !

Brisons les chaînes, les carcans, les barrières, les digues.

 

Pour inonder l’univers en eaux puissantes qui balaient les iniquités.

 

Quelles sont lourdes, lourdes les chaînes

Que le Nègre met aux pieds de Nègre

Pour complaire aux maîtres du jour !

 

Lourdes, les chaînes,

lourdes, lourdes,

les chaînes que je porte aux mains.

 

Que tombent tous les baîllons du monde !!

 

Chains

 They are so heavy, heavy, the chains,

That the negro puts on the neck of the negro.

To please the masters of the hour.

 

Please do not stop the momentum of a people!

Let us break the chains, the shackles, the barriers, the dams.

 

To flood the universe with powerful waters that will sweep away iniquities.

 

They are so heavy, heavy, the chains

That the negro puts on the feet of the negro

To please the masters of the day!

 

Heavy, the chains,

Heavy, heavy,

The chains that I wear on my hands.

 

May all the gags of this world fall!

 

‘Ils m’ont dit’ de Francois Sengat-Kuo / ‘They told me’ by Francois Sengat-Kuo

I would like to share another poem ‘Ils m’ont dit‘ by  François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971. This poem ‘They told me’ is all about reclaiming African-ness. I know it doesn’t quite sound like it, but here is someone who left all to please others, in this case the European masters, and in the end decides to reclaim what is his, his culture, and above all himself. The poem deals with colonization times, the service of African soldiers in World war I and II, and then independence or rather the quest to find oneself. And yes, once he decides to put himself first, they tell him that he is a traitor. I bring you here “Ils m’ont dit” (They Told Me) translated to English by Dr. Y. on Afrolegends.com

 

Sengat_Kuo2

‘My Africa’ by Michael Dei Anang

Africa
Africa

Today I stumbled upon a poem by Ghanaian author Michael Dei Anang which made me think a lot about Cheikh Anta Diop‘s work of re-educating the world about the place of Africa in history as the cradle of humanity. Michael Dei-Anang was a member of President Kwame Nkrumah‘s (Ghana’s first president) main secretariat and was concerned with the liberation of the rest of Africa still under colonial rule, at the time. Enjoy!

 

 

My Africa

by

Michael Dei-Anang

When vision was short

and knowledge scant,

Men called me Dark Africa

Dark Africa?

I, who raised the regal pyramids

and held the fortunes of Conquering Caesars

In my tempting grasp.

Dark Africa?

Who nursed the doubtful child

Of civilization

On the wand’ring banks of the life-giving Nile,

And gave to the teeming nations

Of the West a Grecian gift.

“Scalp” de Aimé Césaire

Aime Cesaire
Aime Cesaire

I am posting here, a poem by the great poet founder of the negritude movement, the Francophone poet Aimé Césaire from Martinique.  The breadth of Césaire’s work is amazing.  He has published over 100 poems.  The poem “Scalp” is one of them.  Enjoy!

SCALP

Il est minuit

les sorciers ne sont pas encore venus

les montagnes n’ont pas fondu

ai-je assez dit à la terre

de ne pas s’installer par crainte de l’insolation?

Me serrerai-je la gorge avec une corde faite du lierre de mes murmures?

poissons cueilleuses de l’eau et son réceptacle

c’est par-dessus vos têtes que je parle

comme les étoiles dans la bave du miel de ses mauvais rêves et la terre elle a enfanté sous nous

C’est vrai que j’ai laissé mes ongles

en pleine chair de cyclone

parmi le fracas des hannetons gros et jusqu’à faire jaillir le jaune neuf d’un sperme me jetant sous son ventre pour mesurer mon rut

Maintenant

par le sang dur du viol

entre deux criminels

je sais l’heure celui

qui meurt

celui qui s’en va

Mais un mais moi

enserré dans la touffe qui m’endort

et par la grâce des chiens

sous le vent innocent et déplisseur des lianes

héros de chasse casqué d’un oiseau d’or

 

SCALP

It is midnight

the sorcerers have not yet come

the mountains have not melted

have I sufficiently told the earth

not to set itself up in fear of sunstroke?

Shall I tighten my throat with a cord made from the ivy of my mutterings?

fish gatherers of water and its receptacle

it is above your heads that I speak

like the stars in the honey drool from my bad dreams and the earth it has birthed beneath us

It is true that I left my fingernails

full in the flesh of the cyclone

amongst the brawl of huge cockchafers even to making spurt a new yellow semen throwing myself under its belly to measure my rutting

Now

by the hard blood of rape

between two criminals

I know the hour

he who dies

he who leaves

But one but I

enclosed in the tuft that benumbs me

and by the grace of dogs

beneath the innocent and liana-unpleating wind

a hero of the hunt helmeted with a golden bird

 

‘Women of Africa’ by Sekou Touré

Sekou Toure
Sekou Toure
African Woman
African Woman

So many of our revolutionary leaders have written books, poems, and essays.  The great Thomas Sankara, our African Che and president of Burkina Faso, wrote about empowering women, people, getting away from debt, and the Burkinabé revolution.  Amilcar Cabral not only wrote poems, but also revolutionary essaysAgostinho Neto, the first president of Angola, also wrote poetry, just as Senegal’s first president Leopold Sedar Senghor.  So it seems quite natural to find out that Sekou Touré, the grandson of Samori Touré, the only African president to say ‘NO‘ to France and de Gaulle, also wrote poetry.  So here, I leave you with a poem by Sekou Touré, on Women of Africa, and their rightful place in the revolution.

Women of Africa,

Women of the Revolution!

You will rise up to apex

You will journey endlessly

At a walking pace of the social Revolution,

To the rhythm of cultural progress,

In the train of economic boom

To the great and beautiful city

Of the exacting ends

And were in leading

Your brothers, your husbands and

your children…

Women of Africa,

Women of the Revolution!

Equality is not offered,

It must be conquered.

To emancipate the women

Is to rid the society

Of its blemishes, its deformities

The conquest of science,

The mastery of Techniques

Will open to the Women the way

That of intra-social combat

Rendering her “subject and no longer object”.

-Ahmed Sekou Toure

‘Sous-Developpement’ de Charles Ngande / ‘Under-development’ by Charles Ngande

Corruption_2Thinking about all the wasted years of corruption, mismanagement, neo-colonialism, nepotism, and all the -isms going on in many African countries after independence, I thought of sharing with you this poem by the Cameroonian author Charles Ngande.  The poem can be found in Anthologie Négro Africaine by Lilyan Kesteloot, Edicef 1992, P. 329.  The English translation is offered to you by Dr. Y., http://www.afrolegends.com

Sous-développement

J’ai croqué tous mes rêves

Dans les fragiles écuelles de nos indépendances,

Assis

Dans les fauteuils

Des banques étrangères!

Under-development

I chewed all my dreams

In the fragile bowls of our independences,

Seated

In the armchairs

Of foreign banks!

“Je vous Remercie Mon Dieu” de Bernard B. Dadie / “I Thank You God” from Bernard Binlin Dadie

Today, We will look at a poem by the most celebrated Ivorian writer Bernard Binlin Dadié.  The poem below is titled “I Thank you God” or “I thank you my God,” and it is an ode to us Africans, raising the self-esteem.  Dadié writes here about his pride of being born Black, around independence, when the colonizer had almost beaten out of us our pride of being Black, our pride of being ‘us’.  Enjoy! a great poem from Bernard B. Dadié.

Je vous remercie mon Dieu,             de m’avoir créé Noir,
d’avoir fait de moi
la somme de toutes les douleurs,
mis sur ma tête,
le Monde.
J’ai la livrée du Centaure
Et je porte le Monde depuis le premier matin.

Le blanc est une couleur de circonstance
Le noir, la couleur de tous les jours
Et je porte le Monde depuis le premier soir.

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.

Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir,
d’avoir fait de moi,
la somme de toutes les douleurs.
Trente-six épées ont transpercé mon coeur.
Trente-six brasiers ont brûlé mon corps.
Et mon sang sur tous les calvaires a rougi la neige,
Et mon sang à tous les levants a rougi la nature.

Je suis quand même
Content de porter le Monde,
Content de mes bras courts
de mes bras longs
de l’épaisseur de mes lèvres.

Je vous remercie mon Dieu, de m’avoir créé Noir,
Je porte le Monde depuis l’aube des temps
Et mon rire sur le Monde,
dans la nuit
crée le jour.

I thank you God,                               for making me black,
for making me
the sum of all pains,
putting on my head
the world.
I took the world to the Centaur
And I have carried the world since the first morning.

White is a color of                               circumstance
Black is the color of every day
And I have carried the world since the first evening.

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.

I thank you God, for having created me black
for having made me
the sum of all pains.
Thirty-six swords have pierced my heart.
Thirty-six brasiers have burned my body.
And my blood for all the suffering reddened the snow,
And my blood made the                      east red.

I am still
Happy to carry the world,
happy with my short arms
                of my long arms
                        of my thick lips.

I thank you God, for having created me black,
I carry the world since the beginning of times
And my laughter on the world,
                 at night
                      created the day.