Debriefing over a DC Meet-up

I told her to meet me at Nando’s, she did. She arrived with eyes that had the appearance of one who had never seen disappointment. Her smile was like one who had taken a serious bite of the African sun. She picked up something on my behalf with a swiftness that was not swiftness for swiftness sake. It was like she did not use her hands but her heart and she gave it to me like the people I left behind in the continent. How do you say thank you to that kind of human kindness. I have always struggled to thank the people in the villages because the word thank you never was enough to express my gratitude and how deeply humbled I was by all that they were.

All of Southern Africa shone in her. We sat down and ate after laughing like we had known each other before we sat down. I told her how America was teaching me about the nature of hate. How I feel like I am in the middle of the Lord of the Rings. She burst into her Zimbabwean Shona laughter and told me that she will quote me on that. She understood everything I was saying and what I was not saying about what being here requires. At first I was disappointed that she was calling herself Eunice but I accepted it. I imagined that she was saving her true name from being butchered by tongues that did not care for it. I accepted it and watched the African sun laugh through her teeth every chance it could get. There was something honest about her presence. She is brilliant, humble, strong and gentle as I know Zimbabweans to be. But most importantly, she was an honest presence. No pretenses. No trying to be this or that. She just was herself after having learnt how to navigate a system whose brutality she has felt and learnt how to name.

She was beautiful with a black skin that radiated from the sun that had been bitten by her teeth. She did not know that Nandos was South African, that is how long she had last been home and yet she still brought home to whomever she met.

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TELL THEM: For the Nation of Winnie’s Children

By Siki Dlanga

 

When they refuse to mention her name

among the greatest warriors that ever were.

When you see them side-line her;

tainting her with titles

more fitting on them.

 

When they write her off as a murderer;

rather than the greatest protector of your people.

When they say that she killed a child,

when you know that she fought off their bullets

with her bare body bleeding,

preserving

the children of the nation.

 

Tell them that you know what they did to their Joan of Arc.

Tell them that if she was not, they would not have their Nelson to deify.

Tell them that she confronted their guns with nothing but her fury and said

NOT ON MY WATCH!

Tell them that she was framed as an uncontrollable violent woman because

with all their armies of police,

with all their scores of spies,

with all their spin doctors,

with all their guns pointed at her,

Winnie defeated them.

 

Tell them that they failed to diminish her mission, they multiplied it.

Tell them that they failed, and Winnie won.

 

Tell them that they bought journalists to invent a witch for them to burn in public.

Tell them that she has been publicly tried and humiliated, but she was not destroyed.

Tell them that she was more than a general,

Tell them – she was an army.

 

Tell them that her God-given superpower was simply that

she was a black woman.

 

They thought that was a curse.

They thought it was something to be downtrodden.

They thought it meant to be nothing.

They thought a lot of things that meant nothing.

She was a black woman,
a phenomenon.

 

9 April 2018

Still I Rise: 50yrs since MLK

Today we think of our African American family who lost their leader, April 4th, 50 years ago today. They ended his life with an American gun but he never feared death. He said by the time the bullet hits him he’ll be dancing in glory. The fact is our faith is meant to cost us something. The original people of faith had a cross to face and the point was that the followers of Jesus had no fear of death.

#WinnieMandela said: “there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me.”

Nina Simone was asked what is freedom? She responded:

“NO FEAR.”

That is freedom. No fear.

I am here because of heroes like #MLK who did not spare their lives but gave up their lives because they were fighting for a better world. In his case not only that he knew that this is not it. There is more.

Even if your life is taken there is more life to be found in God, in this life or the next.

Paul wrote: “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I am here because of a fearless dreamer whose dream could not be ended by a racist bullet.

The dream lives on.

Is it a coincidence that Coretta Scott King’s friend and comrade Winnie dies just days before the 50th anniversary her husband’s death? The same April 4th also happens to be Maya Angelou’s birth date who was looking forward to working with Dr King when she heard the tragic news. Maya who was good friends with Winnie’s husband Nelson. Don’t you love this web of love and comradery?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on Maya Angelou’s 40th Birthday. Today she would have been 90. She was absolutely devastated when

they killed Dr. King because she was about to work with him.

Maya felt like her life’s purpose may have been snuffed out with MLK because he was the movement. She was going to be his pen and female face/voice of the movement. How then do you pick up your pen when you thought that you were going to be among the leaders who would eventually liberate black South Africans from apartheid? What now?

And yet, it wasn’t over. Maya picked up her pen and wrote a new narrative to build from. She picked up the painful pieces and she gave us new weapons of hope to fight with and live by.

And then in South Africa, there never was a drought of revolutionaries. They would imprison hundreds, shoot thousands and still we would rise. Winnie, a rose 🌹 more beautiful than any grew in stature and power. When they tried to pluck the beautiful rose from the earth to diminish her, the rose would grow more fierce thorns until it was impossible to touch or to destroy.

She died in her own terms and left a field of roses like her.

Mandela was still languishing in jail and youth in Soweto had risen and Biko had been brutally killed when Maya penned the anthem for black people everywhere.

It exactly a decade since the death of #MLK when she penned “STILL I RISE.” She was 50 and still she rose.

These words are particularly fitting for Winnie:” You may write me down in history

With your bitter twisted lies,

STILL I RISE..”

Winnie Mandela is gone and i want to scream

Today I want to roar until the earth gives up the dead, until the ocean gives up those Africans who refused to be slaves.

Today I want to stomp the ground until it is liberated from being colonized.

I want to scream and dance for #WinnieMandela until the Dodo that became extinct at the hands of the Dutch is rescucitated back to life and hatches yet another egg again.

I want to scream and I want to roar for everything the African woman has endured at the hands of the colonizer, the hands of the African man and the hands of oppressive cultures that teach women to keep each other obedient to oppression.

I want to scream for every woman who has been demonized and marginalized so that the men would be sanctified at her expense.

I want to roar for every woman who has been deprived of what due to her.

Of every time a woman’s contribution has been diminished so that the man would exalt in her glory.

Today I want to roar until I give birth to life, to children who have no memory nor evidence of oppression in their midst.

Today I want to scream and roar for #Nomzamo until we no longer have to struggle for another day. I want scream until my roar becomes all the colors of freedom! Long live Madikizela long live!

Photo not my own.

Love selah

Shakespeare said love is an ever fixed mark. I think love is more expansive than that.

I don’t believe that love stops because it is in constant motion.

Love is not stored in words.

Words themselves are insufficient to express love fully or to contain it’s being or form.

I believe that love is bigger than any of us.

You can’t take it away or add to it.

Love is.

We simply become awake to it or out of tune with it. We participate in it and flow with it.

We can’t control it.

Yes, it can be withheld or unrequited.

We can misinterpret

how it’s meant to be expressed or we may long and reach for what was never meant for us.

That’s all part of our interaction with it in a good or bad way.

We can be selfish with it or be illiterate about it but love itself does not hurt.

Our actions or the actions of others may hurt. Sometimes we love the wrong way

because of misplaced expectations of us or what we think is expected.

Sometimes our love is simply depleted and we can’t love as is expected.

Loving from a distance is love too, sometimes, it’s the best way to love.

This is particularly true when it’s not withheld for the sake of it but for the sake of balance

and restoration. It takes faith to love because love is bigger than us.

Maya Angelou said:”Love Liberates.” No human being can be present in another person’s

life all the time but Love is ever present. It shows up how it needs to show up.

We may not always recognize that it’s the same ever present Love finding ways

to reach us – but it is there, always,

nudging us towards it.

Blowing 🇿🇦Vuvuzelas in America 🇺🇸

On Saturday, shortly after the March for Our Lives march, I came across a chap who was selling these among other things. I thought what, Vuvuzelas in America??

I rushed towards the man who was pushing a trolley full of green vuvuzelas. I asked whether he knew what these were and where they’re from.

“It’s a trumpet from Italy used at soccer games.” He says.

“No, no sir. That’s not true. These are from my country, South Africa. The Italians got them from us after the 2010 world cup.”

“O? Is that right?” He says, surprised.

“They are from South Africa and it’s called a #Vuvuzela.”

The man is stunned.

“They’re from Africa?”

“Yes sir, from my country SouthAfrica we invented them.”

“Thank you.”

He pauses and says:” What’s your name?”

“My name is Siki. Sikelelwa means be blessed in Xhosa.”

Okay he says.

“It’s from the language spoken in the movie #BlackPanther.”

“That’s a real language? I thought they made it up.” He can’t believe it’s an actual language.

“No sir. That’s the first language I ever spoke. It’s a real language.” He is flawed and blessed at the same time like someone experiencing something spiritual.

“Well they really did their research then.” I tell him that everything in the film was taken from actual African cultures.

He was blessed beyond words like someone who was having a visitation from above or from the ancestors to tell him what he’s never heard before. He gave me the vuvuzela for half price. A woman came to tell him that he’s going to have to pay for the short fall.

He barely looked at her when she said that. He was starring at me like that would be a small price to pay after his experience.

“She’s taught me so much.” He said.

From there, I moved from protest to prayer at David’s Tent where Trumpites were grumbling about the “liberals’ protest.” I blew my vuvuzela and told them that the kingdom has come. I told them that I saw it at the protest. It was a revival meeting. The younger versions of Martin Luther King junior’s opened the scriptures at the protest on stage and brought God’s healing love to the hurting from the podium.

I said, I literally walked away from seeing all those kids gathered there and I felt like never before have I seen a harvest so ripe. Jesus was there in full.

I have seen more of Jesus among those seeking justice than among those who think Jesus is absent in justice. Isn’t justice the very foundation of God’s throne?

It was quite a sight.

Equally, I saw a harvest when South African students were protesting while some Christians saw gloom and young people who had lost their way. I saw kingdom agents taking it by force, but in the absence of God something terrible could happen to the movement.

Justice is key to revival.

Justice=Righteousness.

I have learned that those who are seeking justice are seeking for God.

Those who are satisfied think they have God. Jesus came for the hurting and Jesus is always there where the hurtling are. More often than not, protest is prayer.

Making a little bit of News in the USA

The headline was:”

This South African poet is helping a Maryland church protect a historic black cemetery”

What I loved about the feature or the article is that it placed the issues that South Africa is currently grappling with on the map in the context of my poem and the Moses African Cemetery battle. Most importantly, the story captures the essence of my reason for my being here.

Ever since the article, the people who have read my poem have been chanting words from my poem such as: “Our bones are title deeds!” Or “Black Lives Matte, Alive of Dead!”

 

Take Care

Today, inside my head, I wrote an entire chapter titled: Take Care. I am yet to write it.

It’s a thing black people in America say when they say good-bye to you.

It could be a total stranger after he shows you directions, or it could be a friend ending a phone call.

I always need to hear it.

I always need to hear how they say it.

I can never say it back because I don’t think I can say it the same way.

The most authentic thing I can say back is – thank you.

I say that because I really am thankful to hear it.

I respond with gratitude perhaps because I am still learning what it means to take care here.

To you who is reading this I say, take care.

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