In honor of the Day of Reconciliation, we present this work by one of the most legendary voices of the South African conflict.
I shall never forget that winter morning
A rainy November morning
They dismantled our shantytown
Mindless of sleeping souls
Fast asleep as of anaesthesia.
Unforeseen convey headlights
Heading to our shantytown
Motionless as of a ghost
Returning to its grave in early morning.
Morena! I thought I was dreaming
At the bank of the Klip River
Sprawled on the bank; demobbed soldiers
To demob our peaceful camp
In the name of human rights
In the year of the allied nations.
O! Merciful Lord
Am I sleeping in the open
As in Lombardy estate
In that year of the King’s visit,
Or is it a repetition of demobbed soldiers
On the banks of Canada stream,
Or just a deranged mind?
A stinking lavatory hole there,
A heap of rubbish here,
A stray dog there
It’s all that is left.
In twice a big town
Housing a thousand souls
With its own administration.
I, alone, with a wife and child,
Am left in this ruin
Once, the pride of my administration,
Whipped away are those
Who vowed: ‘We stand by our leader’
Left in the mercy of the documents.
Powerless, hopeless, I lead nobody
I am unfeathered
South, West, we are being driven in circles
Spanning in confusion
A mine dump, head-gear, mine column, a lake,
A river bend; seamlessly flowing
Not as I saw it on demobbed day.