Poem Written on Crumpled Brown Paper
In Memory of Steven Biko Who Died on the Cross of Apartheid
The nails are being hammered into the black hands of Azania,
The spikes are being driven into the body of Christ in Soweto,
The lighting masts are being raised into place to create the new Dachau.
The new Romans stand on the hill in Pretoria, to view the Republiek.
The slaves are revolting again and many have been shot.
It has been bloody, we can say that. It has been necessary.
As we put the wreath of laurels around the head of Malan
To praise him, we do not let them bury their dead in dignity.
We stand here in unity, for unity is all, and sing our beloved “Die Stem.”
As we sit here in Kaapstad, our mother city, and chat in our parliament,
We have passed laws. Pass laws to control them. To our great satisfaction.
But they are revolting again. This calls for measures.
We’ll take ‘em. We’ll send in our Hippos and Land-rovers
as white as our skins. They are made by the British, our friends. We gunned them
With Israeli machine guns. Yah! They’re our friends too, you know.
The nails are being thrust into the black bleeding hands of the new Uhuru.
Dead in its tracks. The children are leaving. They’re going north.
Ten, twelve, fourteen. They will never see their schools.
They’re going north, the seed of the nation. They’re going to learn how to fight.
To continue the struggle from Kenya and Nigeria.
In camps of peace. Very far from home.
Whilst the eyes of the world were diverted,
looking lovingly at the events in Czechoslovakia, in Poland,
Down south, in that antipodal world, the smoke from the tire-necklaces is rising.
Oh, they’ll never see their schools, the schools they did so love,
Administered by the Bantu Education Department, with enforced Afrikaans.
The language of their brothers. Ach, we lover them, you know.
Oh, they’ll miss their schools that never taught history, nor math, nor physics, nor sweet, sweet
Technology. But farming instead with a pick and hoe.
And tribal affairs, And enforced Afrikaans.
They’ll miss their mothers and fathers and one-roomed shacks,
And the dirt roads and no-grass playing fields,
And schools with linoleum, cracked and worn. with only one phone.
And they’ll miss the lighting masts of the new Dachau.
They’ll miss the midnight arrests by the whitemen in blue. From beautiful British Land-rovers.
They’ll miss pass laws and segregation actions and miscegenation laws.
And they’ll miss ninety-day detention without cause.
To be released and interned again.
And they’ll miss the bar of soap they might have slipped on, to die accidentally in jail.
Here we stand on our hill in Pretoria, You can hear the roar of the lions in the zoo.
You can see our beautiful Jacarandas,
And our beautiful valley where we keep hidden the Bomb.
Here we stand on our hill and you can see our lekker, Voortrekker monument.
Tribute to the brave who fell to defend our country, the county God gave us.
We claim our right to it in His name.
We we stand on our hill. You can see our proud universities
Where we teach mathematics, and history, and physics and technology
Where Afrikaans is not enforced, and where we have more than one phone.
Here we stand on our hills and in our valleys.
Beside our wine farms and our homesteads,
Ach. God this land is beautiful. We’ll keep it that way.
We’ll stand together, we’ll stand proud, we’ll never let go.
We love them. Its for their own good we do it. Ask them. They’ll tell you.
They wouldn’t have it any other way.
The lighting masts stand in tribute eighty feet tall. A monument to technology. The art of control.
The houses sit squat, maybe eight feet small. The illumination blinds you. It can be seen for miles.
It it quite now. Now that the children have gone.