Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Merchant of Dreams

There is nothing much to say.
He is the poorest man alive.
A pauper's grave awaits his demise.
He has nothing to sell,
No one to con.
The price was too high
And his product invariably
Went up in smoke.
We watch as he shuffles past:
Rags, skin and bone,
And we think to ourselves,
Times are hard mate,
And you should have known
In a land where virtue is sold
In exchange for some breadcrumbs
There is no market
For luxury commodities
Like dreams anymore.

© Sandisile Tshuma MMVI

Day Sleeper by Rory Adityawan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Corrective Rape?

"Corrective" rape: raping a lesbian with the intention of converting her to a heterosexual.

Avaaz campaign against corrective rape in South Africa

I have two very close friends who have been victims of sexual assault. There was nothing I could do to help them when they were attacked and for that I am deeply regretful. Hopefully by making it known that I stand against sexual violence (on people of any sexual orientation, actually) then perhaps I can help convince the South African government to take a stronger stand against the people who commit these heinous crimes physically and psychologically scarring millions of people for life. Sign the petition. It's the least we could do.

The statistics on rape in South Africa are astounding. A woman has a one in four chance of being raped by age sixteen and has a better chance of being raped than learning how to read. For goodness sake! Please sign the petition above to stop the commission of sexual assault with impunity. If you have a blog please put up the link so that your followers can take action too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

African Renaissance

It makes no sense whatsoever
Not to me
Not to the boy selling
Grass brooms and feather dusters
At ten o'clock on a Tuesday morning
While a handful of his age-mates
Practices the five-times table at school
He's probably not thinking of a renaissance
As he deftly employs his number one marketing tool:
Public guilt

This idea is "whatever"
It doesn't mean renewal
Not to me
Not to the dry-skinned woman
At the rural bus terminus
Who vends shriveled fruits and roasted peanuts
To the distracted masses that cram themselves into overloaded buses
Whose very existence is a hazard
Her voice rises high above the buzz
As she offers cheap nutrition to an undernourished population
How's that for an "S.M.E?"
Does she fit into the dream?

Translate it!
Break it down for me!
I just don't understand it.
Neither does my seventy-five year old grandmother
No one explained it to her
The day she woke up early and hobbled twelve kilometres
At the promise of "food aid" which she was denied
On account of having "made noise"
For the overpaid paper-pusher dispensing it
An entire village turned away
Hungry and empty-handed after a twelve hour wait
Did not dream of the dawn of "black consciousness"
That night.

African Renaissance? What is it?
Some kind of evanescent idea
That is tossed around at conferences
At five star resorts by clueless men and women
Who have moved mountains
To educate their children in the "first world?"
Is it a vague but verbose press statement
That dissipates when they kiss each other's greasy cheeks
And exchange stiff embraces before boarding
chartered airplanes back home?

Bring me our visionaries
The great thinkers of our time!
Let's herd them together and lock them in a room
So they can hash it out
And come up with a pretty definition
Maybe in a poem!
I, on the other hand
Will be out here in the real world
Hacking my way through this jungle
Wading through the gunk
Stacking my chips and building a life
Doing more than just surviving.

I, too, once dreamed the dream
But now I am awake
Wide-eyed and blinking
Wondering as I look around me
How many times and how many ways
Does an African have to die
Before he is "reborn?"

© Sandisile Tshuma MMVI

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mental fender benders: how to avoid them during unsavoury situations

For those who haven't read them, I highly recommend

A simple freedom : the strong mind of Robben Island prisoner no. 468/64  which is a selection of Ahmed Kathrada's 
favourite quotes and writings during his imprisonment, 
Man's search for meaning  by Victor Frankl
The Road Less Travelled  by M Scott Peck
Even Silence Has an End  by Ingrid Betancourt
and, well, anything by Nelson Mandela.

I also highly recommend the poem below. A schoolmate of mine, Bethany Dawson (née Morrison) wrote it twelve years ago. The last two lines have become somewhat of a mantra for me over the years through the ups and downs and especially during the very scary times in between when there is nothing, no highs or lows, no fears or joys, no expectation, no anticipation, just oblivion...

Breaking Free

by Bethany, aged 15

Trapped in my prison

The walls are too high

I long to touch the grass

But I can only glimpse the sky.

                         Life is all restrictions

                         Things I cannot do

                         People I cannot be with

                         Dreams that won’t come true.

I want to have my freedom

Feel what it is to fly

But until my chains are broken

I cannot even try.

                        Freedom is not only breaking out

                        On to unfamiliar ground

                        It is looking inside your heart

                        Until answers can be found.

When I know myself

And search the depths of me

I will loosen the cords that bind

And finally be free.

                         Even though I cannot move

                         I think I might just find

                         A place of hope inside me

                         Freedom in my mind.

© Bethany Morrison 1998