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Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa – Excerpts

Splinters of a Mirage Dawn photo bookcover1_zpsd982bbb5.jpg

Whatever I Hang – Femi Abodunrin

For Grace Nichols

From love of Calypsos
Through theorizing about the Middle-Passage
And amazing glimpses of the ruins of a great house
I watched the new Oilgerian game of death
But some call it the game of life
Disembarking at ORT to an implausible reception
By skeptical teams of post-apartheid Customs and Excise!
“Ah! This way Sir” – I heard one sister say to a brother.
“What have you brought from Oilgeria?” She would like to know
But the bulging Ghana-Must-Go had given away the game
“Eish! These Oilgerians think they’re clever”, sister mouths wordlessly
Tubers of yams sprouted from the bulging bag and brother feigned surprise
Cassava flour emerged trailed by iru, okasi and assorted bush meat!
“What are these?” Post-apartheid sister mouthed enraged
Nothing-to-deklare brother smiled and embraced the empty Ghana-Must-Go!
It’s every day for the thief, he retorted, without bitterness!

But just yesterday we were theorizing about the colonial baggage
Blown wide open on the conveyor belt – exposing decades of postcolonial angst
But now can we focus on the new post- without remorse?
And is the post- in post-colonial the post- in post-racialism?
Leaving my wazobia ways to participate in this orgy of tricolored angst
And nollywood stars trailing and cursing – not to mention
Sacrilegious ‘nothing-to-deklare’ sisters, joining the macabre dance.
In Jozi we shall all meet in an arranged marriage of inconvenience
The lobola dance terminating at ABSA – while we exchange
Knowing glances of notions of home. Ah! Whatever I hang!
‘And what are these?’ post-racialist sister would like to know
‘Fixes’, nothing-to-deklare brother retorted without contrition
‘You mean those things our girls hang on their heads’ sister corrected
‘And don’t they hang beautifully?’ he would like to know
And whatever I hang, he smiled ruefully,
Is this what I shall call home?

Femi Abodunrin
Polokwane, December 2012

Femi Abodunrin is presently Professor of English Studies and Performing Arts at the University of Limpopo, Turfloop Campus. He studied at Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria and holds a PhD degree from Stirling University, Scotland, UK. He has taught at universities in Nigeria, the UK, Germany, Malawi and Swaziland. His major publications include Blackness: Culture, Ideology and Discourse (BASS, 1996, 2008).

Times and places – Adebola Fawole

My mother said, “Don’t look me in the eye! A well-brought girl never does.”
My mother said, “You must learn to cook and clean! “It is your right.”
My mother said, “You must get married and have children! They complete you.
My mother said, “The printed page is a must! You can’t succeed without it.”
My mother said, “You must greet people around you! You will always need them.”
These values I carried with me on my journey;
not burdensome but a guide to chart my course.
And they served me well in that time and place.
But alas!
Crossing borders and the threshold of womanhood to bringing forth,
they are challenged.
I am told only liars can’t look you in the eye!
Women are no longer cleaners!
Men are unnecessary essentials and having children is a choice!
Listening to the book is the way to succeed!
You are all sufficient in yourself. Greeting demeans you!
And my children; crossbreed of divergent times and place
Are caught in the interplay
I can only point to the course I charted in the middle of the two.

The taxpayer speaks – Adebola Fawole

The door opened with a push from feeble hands
Eyes like daggers drawn looked towards it,
taking in the fact that this is a stranger.
You can smell them a mile away.
Questions are fired off without waiting for answers.
“Where are you from?”
“When did you arrive here?”
“When are you going back?”
Only the last answer made sense.
“Soon”, said the head
bowed down in shame for a crime unaware of.
“It better be! Stop wasting taxpayers’ money!

Adebola Fawole was born in Nigeria and moved to South Africa in 2007. She is currently enrolled as a PhD student in the Department of Translation Studies and Linguistics of the University of Limpopo. Before this, she taught English language and arts and culture in a Pretorian high school.

Aliens – Sarah Rowland Jones

The South African National Biodiversity Institute
offers detailed and specific guidelines
on its website, for the identification
and treatment of aliens present in this country.

Some, especially those which threaten infestation,
are subject to compulsory removal.
They must be eradicated from the environment.
The law is clear, and brooks no exceptions.

Others are regulated by area or activity.
Permits must be issued to enter the country,
to breed, to move. This much is clear:
they may not inhabit riparian zones.

Many pose no threat to the native populations.
These aliens may come here freely,
and enjoy leave to remain, to spread,
to put down roots and become naturalised.

The rules are clear and implemented with care.
Everyone knows exactly where they stand.
If only the Department of Home Affairs
would take a leaf out of the same book.

Sarah Rowland Jones was a British diplomat for 15 years before being ordained as an Anglican priest in her home of Wales. She moved to South Africa in 2002, on marriage, and is Research Advisor to the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, having also worked for his predecessor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.

sunnyside nightwalk – raphael d’abdon

a rusty lamp throws a weary towel over the street corner
i sit on a bench and share some words with alain,
my brother from burundi
he’s a street vendor
he’s got two public phones
sells candies
and even single rizlas
in case of emergency

he’s trying to make a living and raise his two kids
between the cops’ raids
and the xenoidiotic threats of some local afrophobiacs
(king shaka would be ashamed of these modern age fighters
and don quixote would pity them)

apart from this
alain’s doing fine
his babies are sleeping now
they’re dreaming of tomorrow’s crèche
where they’ll be playing all day
with the policemen’s kids

i salute alain as
three skinny cats jump out from a deserted building
look at me with disdainful indifference
it must be my long beard and my tattered shirt
or maybe
they’ve more urgent things to think about
like finding a way to catch that bloody bird

they’ve skipped too many meals this week
ribs don’t lie
and the night cutting wind reminisce
of how fragile they are

i kick dreams away as a
washed out pack of nik naks swirls down the sidewalk
and arrogantly lands
over my rugged takkies
littering is fascism
and i just can’t stand ignorance
and dirt

drunk screams from the flats across the road
from under a leafless tree the glittering shadow of a knife
blinking in the shrieking winter fog

“business as usual” smiles the flashy nedbank billboard
over the razor-wired fence

the umpteenth sickening sound of police sirens
rips the moistened sky in two
it stiffens the mallow along my squeaking spine
while needles
sting the midpoint
of my frozen anus

it reminds me that it’s time to go home
and i agree (even if i don’t have one).
i walk around the corner
find a seat at sipho’s tavern
pull up my overcoat
pull down my beret
and order another beer

it’s the penultimate one
for today

Dr Raphael d’Abdon is an Italian scholar, writer, editor and translator. His essays, articles, poems and short stories have been published in volumes and journals. In 2008 he moved to Pretoria, where he lives with his wife and his daughter. He is a vegetarian and his hero is Prince.


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