It’s Our Turn to Eat

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Things fall apart
As the ghost of Sani Abacha,
Capitalizing on Catastrophe,
Narrates the secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives

But there is
No God but God
For the bottom billion,
The wretched of the earth
Who under half of a yellow sun
Quietly chant,
‘Its our turn to eat’

España

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Bubble poppers and feet dippers
Ferenji atali’s & Zembe taher’s

8AM sunrises & 9PM sunsets
Confused body clocks
Hola’s, gracias, & adios

Trains & planes
Window seats and middle seats
First class seats and no seats
Horse led carriages
Parachuted boats
Metered cabs
Rented bikes
But most utilised – route 11
Trusted soles & tattered maps always leading us home
No matter the hour or route

Blue grass & green waters
Clear skies and wispy clouds

Tapas & paellas
Fruits of la mar
La quinta por favor

Stadiums, cathedrals, parks
People’s streets
Intricate casas
Rebuilt mezquitas
Decorated doors

Demons
Let out on
Beaches and benches
Courtyards & Rooftops

Insatiable questions
Random language lessons
Reprimands and mockery
Contagious laughter

Bubbles and burning feet
Satiated cravings
Ice-cream – in cups, cones and sticks
Naranja & nestea
Litres consumed
By scorching heat
Expelled by sweaty bodies

Proudly dipping feet
In waterways
Waterfalls
Pools and ponds

For untold stories
Listen to me brothers!
And…(wait for it…..)
…..sisters! (sheepish smile)

España – it’s not adios
Only – asta a la próxima!

Dream Keeper

By Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world

Desiderata

by Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 

Cuz He’s Black

“I’m more human than hero”
“We’re treated as a problem way before we’re treated as human….”

DEMOCRAZY – Spine Poetry I

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DEMOCRAZY
The State of Africa –
The End of An Error, and the Beginning of a New One

My Heart Is A Sieve

By Mbonisi Zikhali

My heart is a sieve,
through which boulders that slide off mountain tops
are humbled,
and turned into beach sand in which I sink my bare feet in.
I have outgrown this playground
now I build sandcastles out of moon dust
enough for heaven’s entire angel census count to move in.
In my conversations with God/ess,
I, the child, drink breast milk from the milky way
so hungrily planets are consumed.
I am the child the world wasn’t ready for.
But in my silence I snatch earthquakes from the earth’s core
and beg them to grab you by the shoulders
and knock back the sense
of what I am truly here for.

You Have Reached the Women

-By Phenomenal women from all walks of life
(representing voices from Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the US)

You have reached the woman
Who keeps her eyes wide open
Her pain closed tight against pessimistic winds
So she can release them in Remembrance deep in the night….
The woman
Who was never told why
She was brought up in North America
Instead of North Africa
Why she could be not be African nor Arab nor American
But every one by different ones…

You have reached the woman
Who is a mother trying to raise a woman
Who will stand up for justice and truth
Who will be successful
By being capable, confident, content
Ambitious and determined.
Who will fix things wrong with this world
Who will find her passions and create.
Pray, love, dance, live, believe.
Laugh, breath, swim, write, sing.
Hope, wish, and achieve.
Who will mend the wounds of those who cry
And sew the holes of society.

You have reached the woman
Without regrets of what was and without fear of what will….
Who refuses to fit the mold,
Refuses to give in to the expectations
Of the person she’s supposed to be
Instead of being the person she desires to be…
The woman
Whom passion drives her…
Compassion humbles her…
And faith solidifies her….

You have reached the woman
Whose words are not buried beneath her tongues,
Who crafts metaphors & similes like
She tends to the garments of her inner untouched souls:
That place she can call her own
You have reached the woman
Who has dared to stop and take stock
And realise the images in the broken mirror are not hers

You have reached the woman
Who gives thanks
With complete understanding
That what’s here may be gone tomorrow

You have reached the woman
Who understands that happiness
Cannot be bought, travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed
Who takes after
The movers and shakers, the truth-seekers and peace-makers,
The woman
Who is soft-spoken yet outspoken.
The one who has often fallen yet never once broken.

You have reached the woman
Who wants to be held tight,
But doesn’t want to be held back;
Who resents being told to “never mind,”
Because, little do you know,
You have reached the woman
Who would rather die trying than give up
Who has the vision and dedication to create & grow;
Who one day hopes to fear nothing but God,

You have reached the woman
Who is first and foremost
Human. Muslim. African. Ethiopian. Hareri.
Who adapts to changing circumstances
And still dares to be different
The woman
Who can reach for the stars
And still keep her feet on the ground

You have reached the woman
Who loves to learn but is still counting the days till summer
Who longs for peace but finds truth in Fanon
Who breathes in colors,
Dreams in life, dwells in languages
The woman
Who writes backwards and walks forwards

You have reached the woman
Who speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili
Whose native tongue is Poetrese
Who runs wild in the global streets
Who dwells outside of boxes
The woman
Whose favorite book is her passport,
And her country is the earth

You Have Reached
Mouna
Sumaya
Wala
Batsirai
Mariana
Nasim
Samar
Nebila
Agazit
Cassandra

You have reached the women
Who will keep rising
Who will stand tall
Regardless of how many times they fall
Who embrace their fathers, their brothers, their sons
As they do their mothers, their sisters, their daughters

You have reached the women,
Who will not ask you –
Who are you to be extraordinarily fabulous?
Rather, you have reached the women
Who will ask you –
Who are you not to be?!

You have reached the women
Who genuflect to the power of language
Whose swords are ballpoint, felt tip and fountain
Who believe that revolutions don’t get televised
They get poeticized, ripped, & spit at open mics

So let us now leave you
To desilence yourselves
In the language of your truths
Translating if you choose

So please, speak your peace
After the beep

© November, 2010

WOMAN

By Nikki Giovanni

she wanted to be a blade
of grass amid the fields
but he wouldn’t agree
to be the dandelion

she wanted to be a robin singing
through the leaves
but he refused to be
her tree

she spun herself into a web
and looking for a place to rest
turned to him
but he stood straight
declining to be her corner

she tried to be a book
but he wouldn’t read

she turned herself into a bulb
but he wouldn’t let her grow

she decided to become
a woman
and though he still refused
to be a man
she decided it was all
right

© Nikki Giovanni

For more on Nikki Giovanni, (Her own website).

TIA (This is Africa)

TIA

It’s Cairo, Casablanca & Cape Town
Addis, Abuja & Accra
Ouagadougou, Timbuktu & Antananarivo
Lagos, Lomé, Lusaka & Lalibela

Its peace and turmoil
Order and chaos
Evolution and revolution
Anarchy and regulation
Innovation and duplication
Progress and retreat
Static and constant change

It’s Nouakchott, Niamey, N’Djamena & Nairobi
Monrovia, Mbabane & Maseru
Tripoli, Tunis & Tangiers
Harare & Gaborone

It’s democracy and dictatorship
Youth and elderly
Traditional and modern
Indigenous and imported
Local and foreign
Metropolitan and cosmopolitan
Rural and urban

It’s Bujumbura, Bangui, & Brazzaville
Dakar, Dar & Djibouti
Freetown & Libreville
Mogadishu, Monrovia & Moroni

It’s you and it’s me
It’s him and it’s her
It’s us and it’s them
It’s East and it’s West
It’s North and it’s South
It’s core and periphery

It’s Bamako, Banjul & Bissau
Kinshasa, Kampala, Kigali & Khartoum
Malabo, Maputo & Mombasa
Algiers, Alexandria & Abidjan

It’s scholarly and illiterate
Ambitious and unmotivated
Political and apathetic
Construction and destruction
Truth and propaganda
Scribes and scholars

It’s Juba & Goma
Yaoundé & Yamoussoukro
Victoria & Windhoek
Porto Novo, Port Louis & Port Elizabeth
Sao Tomé, Praia & Cotonou

It’s unpredictable and expected
Unconvential and conformist
Extraordinary and banal
Hope and despair
Riches and rags
Scarcity and extravagance

It’s flaura and fauna
Valleys and mountains
Deserts and waterways
It’s Kilimanjaro and the Denakil Depression

It’s both ends of the spectrum
And everything in between

TIA-This is AFRICA

©Nebila Abdulmelik, May 2011

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