Monday, 5 September 2011

"Today I do not love my country"

So, my weekend consisted of studying, studying and more studying. Somewhere in between, I managed to squeeze in the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival. I first went to a poetry reading session where Denis Hirson and Ingrid de Kok recited some of their awe-inspiring poetry. Antjie Krog said about the session, "We have been truly alive for only 40 minutes today." I think that pretty much sums up the sheer brilliance of the experience that I had the privilege of being apart of. The second session that I went to was a panel discussion on the relationship between the ANC and COSATU and whether or not this relationship is still relevant. The panelists included Moeletsi Mbeki, Susan Booysen and Kally Forrest. It was quite a riveting discussion. Take these stats for example: 24% of people who vote for the ANC are employed full time. 9% are employed part-time. 66% of the ANC's electorate is unemployed, while only 8% have a tertiary education. Makes you think, doesn't it?

I'll leave you with a poem by Ingrid de Kok. She wrote it at the time of the xenophobic attacks in 2008. I think it really echoes my sentiments towards my country given the events that have occurred over the last few days. It's really something special- enjoy!

Today I do not love my country

South Africa, May 2008

Today I do not love my country.
It is venal, it is cruel.
Lies are open sewers in the street.
Threats scarify the walls.

Tomorrow I may defend my land
when others X-ray the evidence:
feral shadows, short sharp knives.
I may argue our grievous inheritance.

On Wednesday I may let the winded stars
fall into my lap, breathe air's golden ghee,
smell the sea's salt cellar, run my fingers
along the downy arm of the morning.

I may on Thursday read of a hurt child
given refuge and tended by neighbours,
sing with others the famous forgiving man
who has forgotten who were enemies, who friends.
But today, today, I cannot love my country.

It staggers in the dark, lurches in a ditch.
A curdled mob drives people into pens,
brands them like cattle,
only holds a stranger's hand
to press it into fire,
strings firecrackers through a child,
burns stores and shacks, burns.

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