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“Words will never turn into bread” – Read David wa Maahlamela’s epistle to Robert Mugabe (Plus: Video)

“Words will never turn into bread” – Read David wa Maahlamela’s epistle to Robert Mugabe


SejamolediAmid unverified reports that 91-year-old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in a “critical condition” after suffering a heart attack while on holiday, it is timeous, perhaps, to reflect on his 36 years in office through a powerful poem by David wa Maahlamela.

Wa Maahlamela’s poem first appeared in New Coin Volume 45 in December 2009.

Read the poem:

bones of Zimbabwe

“… we in africa will not bring colour
between man and reality”
– ingoapele madingoane

my hat off i take,
for your hondo of reclaiming zimbabwe,
epics from frank poets you ought,
when you bullet words of sharp edges
to oil-gods who claim to be universal presidents,
but winds of today blow away roses of yesterday,
the land is in a black man’s hand,
where are seeds to plant?

robert the great poet,
you bury yourself in your philosophic words:
‘they should keep their lands and you will keep yours!’
yet words will never turn into bread,
ocean of poverty is zimbabwe today
swallowing children of its own womb,
hyper-inflation captures your liberation
into prison cells of starvation,
genocide of no blood has cracked
from mountains of shemanemane,
zambezi river is swallowed by drought,
victoria falls fall no more.

robert, i know the roots of your inferno:
which man can bubble-gum a smile
after a wrathful wrestle for his land?
but are lives of these innocent citizens
cheap to buy your revenge?
africa for africans is the song of your heart,
the song africa needs to sing with understanding and pride,
but remember: the stomach carries the head,
no wonder why tafirwa chaure
and many other zimbawean illegal aliens
choose to jump from tall buildings
than being deported back home
where operation murambatsvina cleaned their shacks,
where goods are halve-priced but shelves starving to death,
where cholera is stealing elders’ dignity
forcing them to wear nappies like toddlers.

let’s face it rob,
sanctions or no sanctions
you still live behind silver spoon,
lives of ordinary people are taken simple,
zim-dollar is nothing but meatless bone,
meatless bone that heals no hunger
except to enrich those who are rich,
wish i could take you for a ride
from beltbridge to johannesburg
so to witness cold reality of the hopeless,
reality as solid as your u.n. general assembly speech,
a poor man’s death remain a rich man’s wealth,
but it hardly puzzles:
when around will the tables turn
and reconnect broken bones of zimbabwe?

* * * * *

Watch the video below, shot at the 2011 Poetry Africa Festival, to see Wa Maahlamela reading the poem:

YouTube Preview Image

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