Oh South Africa

by Chima Ononogbu

Oh you South Africans, the black natives!
You once bled the blood of apartheid,
Drank the rage of renegades traversing your mountains,
You rebuked your humanity that you may calm their vexed eyes.
In those yesterdays you led unliving life, hoping tomorrow comes,
But today you have traded your tomorrows for your yesterdays,
In your ingratitude broken the sacred fountains of your liberation,
The Oracles that formed the sinews of your heroes.

I skimmed the pages of your yesterdays,
The days when Soweto was torched to its carcasses,
The days your tears were beads of scarlet blood
Your eyes darkly reddened and obese from swills of fear,
Your bodies wiry, dry as leaves starved and withered.
On those days that Johannesburg would not keep you,
You had prayed volcanoes to hide you away,
Before the waking of the roosters’ crows

For hounded were your jugulars by flagellates of apartheid,
To scuffle you down the crooked terrain of injustice.
Your oppressors’ deadening looks were
The fires that burned down your peace.
Their anger, thick flaming crudeness with jagged edges
With barbed sling puffed up with venom like viper’s
That ripped your weeping elements to the bone.

Oh you South Africans, the black natives!
In the days when the hoots of owls flooded your daylight,
For your daylight was pitch dark, in fact
Darker than the least brightest of the night,
The light upon your path were the Oracles- –
The Africans whose lives you snuff out
On the streets of Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria.

With intrepidity tall as a lion on hind legs stood them
For your sake and against the slicing blade of apartheid.
They footed your bills, fed you fat from their lands,
Sauntering for your sake through the woods of sacrifices
As their bodies quivered to a breaking,
Yet faithful till the day your chains snapped off you,
Like the cracking of the shell that frees the young kernel.
These testimonials, Mandela’s victory songs!

By which his hands freed steered the wheel of leadership.
Knitted the cities you turned to rubbles
Shook the hands of Oracles that toted you across all fires.
Oh you South Africans, the black natives,
Mandela from his grave cries; cries, anguished cries,
He knew to desecrate the Oracles, your African saviors,
Whose backs were broken for you was a thundering sacrilege,
A profanation appeased by eternal penance of ancestral gods.

But you have in your recalcitrant blindness hurt other Africans-
Nigerians, Zambians, Zimbabweans, Ghanaians, Ethiopians,
You chase them about with weapons like dragons upon preys,
Cut them down like dehydrated trees fitting for the saw,
But they were the Oracles that in your yesterdays
Bound your wounded hopes,
Weeded your lands of overgrown oppression,
Restored the diadem of your ancestors.

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