Quote

Introducing ‘racism here apartheid there’

17 Mar

Europe, by Mazisi Kunene

apocalypse fire

Europe, your foundations

Are laid on rough stone.

Your heart is like cobwebs

That dry in the desert.

Your children fill us with fear:

They are like the young of the puff adder

Who devour the flesh of their parent.

Once I believed the tales.

Once I believed you had breasts

Over-flowing with milk.

I saw you rushing with books

From which the oracles derive their prophecies.

I heard you in the forest

Crying like wolves,

Breaking the bones of your clans.

I know the hardness of your visions:

You closed the doors

And chose the bridegroom of steel.

You chose her not to love

But because she alone remained

Dedicated to silence.

From her you made your prophecies

And summoned the oracles:

You laughed at the blind men

But you yourself were blind,

Struggling in this great night.

Children have inherited the fire.

They blow its flames to the skies

Burning others in their sleep.

What will the sun say?

The sun will laugh

Because it burnt out cradles from age to age.

Image

 Mazisi Kunene, (1930-2006) and Mathabo Kunene

Poem translated from Zulu. Kunene, M (1975) ‘Europe’, in Soyinka, W (Ed.), Poems of Black Africa. Ibadan: Heinemann, pp. 20

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