Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why I love Africa (poem)

Just wanted to share a poem I wrote about Africa.
I wrote it sometime in February 2007. I wrote it for MIT's Pulse concert, a celebration of Afro-Diasporean culture. I was exploring some of the ways in which Africa was different from the rest of the world and the various little things we cherish that may not be glorified or celebrated in the media.


Why I love Africa

It takes a village to raise a child
It takes a male child to start a village
It takes a female child to educate them all
In Africa

One man’s inactive car
Is many other men’s community service
Because you will need others
When your own car breaks down in Africa

It doesn’t fall into winter
And then spring into summer
People may be raining away
But life and warmth never run dry in Africa

Tangerine tree, football field, sugarcane seller
Very different but similar
Who needs Mapquest? In directing and navigating
All landmarks are on deck, in Africa

What if the peanut seller is sick with malaria?
There are a hundred and one people
Minding and carrying their own business on the streets
Of Africa who would give you some help

Cock-a-doodle-doo, hold up, kokrokoo…
Meat that has been frozen for three weeks is not my kind
This particular bird has exhausted my piece of mind
And I’ll have fresh cooked chicken at half-past two, in Africa

Tough love smoothens rough edges
Polishing an individual in responsibility
The rod has its place in Africa
And insubordination is not spared

Where the generation gap seems to grow
Day in day out, year in year out
An 84 year old man finds a way
To start school, in Africa

Where else does a song which talks about ‘down there’
First get banned for its profanity
Then helps an opposition party
Win an election, in Africa

Chains were broken with the slave trade
But shackles remain within families
Every brother and sister from another mother
Is my sibling in Africa

Let everything that has breath
Smile for the camera
Because laughter triumphs over pain
Which is no stranger to Africa

The old man left me with something
Food that taught me maturity
Thoughts that fed me wisdom
To survive in Africa

Diverse yet so much the same
Many but this one name
Several ‘blanks’ but still no shame
Boarder is no bother to Africa

Before corn was popped, it was roasted
Before democracy, there was order
Before makeup, there was beauty
Before you, you can still see Africa

Full of life in the midst of death
Full of strife in the midst of despair
Full of giving in the midst of nothing
The beauty of Africa will fill and fool you

Tradition has suffered various additions
Custom has embraced many storms
Culture has welcomed several mixtures
Africa has still lived Africa

Can you trust respect?
Can you judge hospitality?
Can you explain happiness?
Can you understand strength?
Africa lives in me and I can
That’s why I love Africa
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