Once upon a time, I used to write poetry.I wrote about what every teenager writes about: Love and relationships. Then after I moved to the states, I wrote more African focused poems. Then I stopped. I guess I was never meant to be a poet. I was destined to be a different kind of writer. Anyway, after I realized I was kind of a whack poet,I started seeking out actual good poets. So I thought I would share my favorite poems about Africa by Africans.
TO DO LIST FOR AFRICA (by Lebogang Masango)
I first heard this poem via Zanele’s blog is this Africa last year and since then,I’ve re-watched it probably a dozen times or more and shared it with friends. She performed “To Do List for Africa” at the Word and Sun Bassline Series in South Africa.
Words that stood out to me: Africa
My love for you is a broken mirror
Sits heavy in the cavity of my chest
Among dusty boxes full of Fela Kuti songs
And a history bloodied by regret
When I think of you
My heart knows no rest
It skips off track
But once a mirror is shattered there’s no way to put back
And pieces of turmoil, disasters and diseases
A whole continent of people
Who have been overlooked by the mercy of Jesus
I’m going to need us to love ourselves
A whole lot louder
Even if the ‘first’ world can’t see us”
HOMEWARD BOUND (Bassey Ikpi)
I think I found Bassey’s poems through someone posting on their facebook. She performed a couple of times for Def Jam that was funded by Russel Simmons. I also follow her on twitter and she definitely causes controversy through her tweets. This poem is a favorite because I can relate to some of it in terms of feeling stuck between dual cultures.
Words that Stand out to me:” What will I teach my children. What will I tell them of where I’ve been…What will they call home, and will they hear it If and when it calls them..I can’t stomach the reality of my dual culture. Africa/ Zambia( she says Nigeria) is quietly begging me to remember while America slowly urges me to forget.”
I AM AN AFRICAN (Thabo Mbeki)
When the former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki became the chairman of the African Union (it rotates among African presidents), he gave this heartfelt speech called “I am an African” which was very fitting. My dad was actually at that meeting and says it was an extraordinary moment.
Words that stand out:”I am an African. I am born of the peoples of Africa. Whatever the set backs of the moment,nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace! However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!”
HOW TO WRITE ABOUT AFRICA (Binyavanga Waina)
I first heard about this poem through the Granta which originally was a student newspaper founded by Cambridge students in 1889. It now features short stories and essays from amazing writers and is produced several times a year. ” How Not to Write About Africa” was featured in 2005 in Granta issue 92 which can still be purchased. It’s true to Binyavanga’s signature sarcastic style. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak at the African Economic Forum at Colombia last year and he was funny but he made sense. He has a new book out called “One Day I will write about this Place” which received lots of praise and which I MUST BUY NOW! Djimon Hounsou recited the poem on youtube and the fact that hes so handsome makes it sound better.lol
Words that Sound out:
“Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas.”
TIA (This is Africa by K’naan)
This may or may not qualify as a poem, but K’naan is a rapper and one of my favorite African artists. And my future hubby. I saw him live in October 2010 at Webster Hall and he was amazing. And so is this song.
My fave words: Around here we only bumping Fela Kuti, Tupac and Bob Marley, Lucky Dube. We dont really give a fuck about your groupies. This is AFRICA hooray!(T.I.A!)
ALSO CHECK OUT..
The Youtube Poet
Chiedu Ifeozo is a Nigerian poet that uses the power of technology to share his poems. He’s actually been my facebook friend for a few years and i dont even remember who added who, but I respect his work. He was on CNN Inside Africa recently.Short snippet i below.
This is an International Poetry festival that takes place every October in Durban, South Africa. There’s an open mic session,workshop etc. If you ever happen to be in Durban,check it out. And speaking of South Africa, Black Book Magazine did a post on places to see if you visit. I plan on going to SA to visit my little sis KK when she moves there for uni in the summer (Capetown to be exact) so will do my best to cross things off that list. CNN did a post on the changing face of African poetry that’s also worth checking out. The video below is a trailer based on Poets in South Africa.
Did any of the poems “speak to you”? Do you have any to share? Please comment and let me know. Have a great weekend!