Maakomele R. Manaka


Listen to the audio version read by Tendai Mwanaka.

(For Lefifi Tladi, Lesego Rampolokeng and Masello Motana)

oh Black god
of Black truth

why must Blackness
always begin with dying?
how long must
the colorless arrogance
continue to bleach
the Black speech
preaching amnesia
and always expecting us
to jive to the jive
this unforgiving jive
this pale, pasty
and impaling jive of

"move on!"
"lets get along!"

along how?

when Black drums
are still fighting
for the sound
of Black hair

when the marrow
of Black days
still choke
on white bones

"can't we just move on
my best friend is Black"

move on how?

when so many
tongues inside
the sad stone
have been renamed

how can we
even begin to move?

when the Black skin
keeps disappearing
fading, and
descending deeper
into this grounded ceiling?
passing burials of
Black songs
digging and drilling
the nothingness
in search of privilege

oh Black rock
of Black truth
when will the rape stop?

how many times
should Black flowers
bloom into gardens
of unseen silences?
while spineless necks
pretend that this quiet
does not exist?

but something happened
something is happening

metallic walls
manicured with steel
house black faces
light-skinned fields
fill with plastic radicals
of Black liberals
landless revolutionaries
plotting ignorance
in the name of
Black consciousness

oh black man
of black pain

for how long
must you be
homeless at home?
far from your self
how much of you
do you even own?

why must Blackness
begin with defeat
to be born
from self

* * *


Listen to the audio version read and accompanied with mbira by Tendai Mwanaka.

(Inspired after Ingoapele Madingoane's Africa My Beginning, and Khumbula My Child)

from the new sound
of an old breath
we learned how to sing
inside the spear
of a foreign tongue

we taught ourselves
how to love
within the walls
of our ocean
and raised midnights
to reasonable mornings
hoping the river
will remember our poems

we wrote our names with water
when our hands could no longer
carry the resistance in our stones

Khumbula my child!
our hands shouted inside the spear
of a foreign page
surrounded by silver faces
and the loud smoke
of coal trains
Khumbula my child!
our songs silenced time
from the palm
of a mine dump
Khumbula my child!

* * *


Listen to the audio version read by Tendai Mwanaka.

(For Dambudzo)

look how normal the shores
have become on your tongue
while a wave of black birds
swim across a closing sky
hoping the Black Sunlight
will expose their wounds


Maakomele R. Manaka is a Soweto born poet with a strong artistic heritage. He has published three collections of poetry; If Only, In Time and Flowers Of A Broken Smile. Many of Manaka's poems have been translated into Italian and German. His writings have appeared in literary journals and newspapers including Mail & Guardian, Aerodrome, New Coin, Botsotso, Kotaz, The Chronic and Poetry Potion. Manaka runs creative writing classes in and around South Africa; he holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Rhodes University.