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

‘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

‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l'Afrique à la Conférence de Berlin de 1884

As we talk about neo-colonialism, and the new conquest of Africa, I thought about sharing this poem ‘They Came‘ by the Cameroonian writer François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971.  In the poem, he talks about colonization and how Africans were fooled by European missionaries who were always preceding European explorers and armies.  I particularly like the sentence: “they came, … bible on hand, guns behind.”  How true! In the days of colonization, Europeans claimed to be bringing civilization and christianity to pagans across the globe.  Today, they bring development, globalization, and democracy…  same ol’ thing → submission and slavery of the people.  Enjoy!

Ils sont venus

au clair de lune

au rythme du tam-tam

ce soir-là comme toujours

l’on dansait

l’on riait

brillant avenir

ils sont venus

civilisation

bibles sous le bras

fusils en mains

les morts se sont entassés

l’on a pleuré

et le tam-tam s’est tu

silence profond comme la mort

 

They came

by the light of the moon

to the rhythm of the tam-tam

that night as always

we were dancing

we were laughing

brilliant future

they came

civilization

bibles under the arm

guns in hand

the dead bodies piled up

we cried

and the tam-tam was silenced

profound silence like death

Afrique de David M. Diop / Africa by David M. Diop

African tree at dusk
African tree at dusk

This poem by David Mandessi Diop was my favorite. By the time I was 9 years old, I knew it by heart…  I loved it so much! It symbolizes so much about Africa, and the love we, all African children, should have for her. Oh how I wish David Diop had lived longer to see the effect of his ‘ode to Africa‘ on other generations. Enjoy!!!

 

Afrique mon Afrique
Afrique des fiers guerriers dans les savanes ancestrales
Afrique que me chantait ma grand-mère
Au bord de son fleuve lointain
Je ne t’ai jamais connue
Mais mon regard est plein de ton sang
Ton beau sang noir à travers les champs répandu
Le sang de ta sueur
La sueur de ton travail
Le travail de l’esclavage
L’esclavage de tes enfants
Afrique dis-moi Afrique
Est-ce donc toi ce dos qui se courbe
Et se couche sous le poids de l’humilité
Ce dos tremblant à zébrures rouges
Qui dit oui au fouet sur les routes de midi
Alors gravement une voix me répondit
Fils impétueux cet arbre robuste et jeune
Cet arbre là -bas
Splendidement seul au milieu de fleurs blanches et fanées
C’est l’Afrique ton Afrique qui repousse
Qui repousse patiemment obstinément
Et dont les fruits ont peu à peu
L’amère saveur de la liberté. 
Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
Springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.