Wesley Macheso is a Malawian pursuing a Master’s Degree in literature at the University of Malawi. His aim is to produce poetry that speaks for this generation.
I AM AFRICA
I am the mother of civilizations.
On my bosom rests the terrifying one,
that mythical great wonder;
body of a lion, face of a man.
Once the dark world drank from
the endless abyss of my ancient wisdom.
Timbuktu is a living testimony.
My neck is a vast desert of sand
smeared with rich crude oils that do not oil
the rusty engines of my crude struggle.
The tyrant violently strangles my neck
to quench his insatiable thirst for the precious drops
choking out the little life that remains.
But like a mighty cypress on a stormy night
I stand. Not a shred of terror, not a tear of despair.
Priceless stones and lavishing ornaments
converge around my enticing midriff.
The shiny diamonds bedeck my dusky waist
like ancient twinkling stars on the blackest night
seducing wise men from the east.
The rapists finger my beaded waist
ravishing my virgin treasures.
But like the mighty Nile, I roll and roar and roll.
In the heat of the day, I roar.
I am that mighty stream of life.
I am Africa the sleeping giant.
My sons have built civilizations
My colour is that symbol of victimization
of long-time men and lifetime women.
The sorrowful squawk of my offsprings
resuscitates my soul from the deep slumber of ages.
I am that motherland; the spring of life,
the source of humanity.
I am Africa
that beam of light in the heart of darkness
rising at the break of dawn to reclaim my throne.
This, my kinky hair,
is my murky identity full of light.
These helix shoots have stood the test of time
and of men alike.
The tough roots of this natural Afro
proclaim my sturdy African roots
uniting legions of the sable race
willingly and unwillingly scattered
across the face of mother earth.
This stringy hair has known suns,
bright angry suns
hotter than the dreaded infernos
of the Christian hell.
My hair has been witness to invasions.
It has watched the invader
invade the land and invade the soul.
My spirit nearly crushed
under the weight of imperialism.
But I stand firm
on the tough roots of my culture.
I will not scald my scalp
to impress the capitalist tyrant.
Hot combs, flat irons, and perms
are not for me.
Chemicals that decalcify the skull
are not for me.
I will wear my Negro hair
as unkempt as it is natural.
For this, my kinky hair,
Her sensuous body rises
above the thumping drums,
of the Afro beat
like a sluggish wave of smoke
deserting the embers of a smouldering fire.
Her face shines like a yellow moon
on the blackest African night,
illuminating the path to my soul;
the path that longs for the footprints
of her uncontaminated love.
My heart throbs for her sable being,
my dark princess,
the opulent hue of Africa,
black and spotless.
THE SPIRIT OF AFRICA
In my father’s house
shedding of blood was sacred.
Chickens and goats were slaughtered
never for us but for visitors.
Some came with the storm at sea
portended by angry clouds in dark skies.
Others appeared amidst dusts of confusion
wildly swung in easterly whirlwinds.
We were amazed at their folly;
Offered them mice and daughters to taste
Laughed at their disgust and satisfaction
Bowed down to their gods eyes closed.
The meekness cost us our land.
Our children writhe in chocking poverty.
But goodness is a resilient spirit.
The weight of wicked ungratefulness
Could never break the spirit of Africa.
Smiling monkeys grace covers of magazines
flaunting their uncovered private parts
in the faces of tourists to be,
brandishing the nakedness of the Africa
of their imagination and expectation.
Roaring lions and hungry hyenas
are necessary in arousing their curiosity.
The humour in naked buttocks
of Masais hunting in the desert
is the right enticement for holiday makers.
They desire to go on the African safari
wearing expensive fabric with imprints of game.
The disgrace is good for the economy.