The Clitoral Nature of Colonialism or What Happened To Our Dela

Rozena Maart
South African
b. 1962

 

The socks
the pants
the water in the iron basin reflect her hair
it lie there
engrossed by the stare
of our mamma
our mamma
our story teller
our dear

The sun shines on her voice
with rays of pleasantries
with strokes of plenitude
an air of delight
as she speaks with so much power
so much power and so much might

Our eyes survey her presence
and she asks that we not despair
this is about life
about the lives that was
and those to come
and those to regain
for pleasure and not shame
of lives and land
to reclaim and rename
of experiences unknown
untold but bold
but behold
mamma talks
tells the story
and so it unfolds:

We hear mamma talk about the shore
the tip of Africa — our home — our life
about the white man’s dreams
and oh, so galore
she tells their desires
of the young Black girls they admire
of the girls who they ask to parade
not in the sunlight
but in their shade
where they lie and compete
for fresh Black women’s meat
and so they explore
on every possible shore
forever and ever
for Black women for their dela
for their tings dat hang like grapes
for der tings dat hold dem men tings tight
for der dela brings delight
delight and pleasure
to the white man’s liesure

Der story is not finished
we are told dat there is more
we know all about der shore
about der rules and der law
about der women who lived before
about der times when we were more
Mamma tells about der times
when the rivers ran and ran
when they covered all the land
when der women washed in der shore
when they were grabbed and spoke no more

We want to cry
but mamma says “No”
there’s no tears for what happened
no tears for all der years
no time to reminisce
if we are only going to miss
the objective of the lesson
of the lesson and the story
of our pain and future glory

of the glory still to come
if we stand and fight as one
and build our hearts and hopes
and dream about the land that’s ours
and keep our dela safe ashore
in our bloomers
shut behind our door

Our dela
our heritage
and still our fight
our knowledge
our history
our right
our land
our culture
in their hands tight

The plan is clear as daylight
our legs apart
our hearts crossed
our fists clenched
our mouths sealed
pressed hard against our will
our dela pinched closed
our teeth chattering to our spirits
our spirits racing to the future
racing for the day
when our dela can be ours
and only ours
to have and to hold
to savour and to fold

We clasp our hands together
and jpin mamma loud in song
it’s a pray and a story
a story and a song
a story overdue
overdue
so long

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