“in this time of global uncertainty, let us take a moment to reflect on Corona virus and Covid 19.

Ah Africa my Africa
how to say this without diminishing the quantity and quality of hope though
because when it so
that life had come to a stand- still when thoughts of death linger in the minds of all
because calamity left us with humane hearts of stone
has life stood on hope only here then
life has never been so still
its been like this before for us to hide in the grass like worms
and listen to the wild stampede rage in the world
how to ask why if Africa has been an issue of treachery
this Africa of Aime Cesaire
this Africa my Africa of Diop
this Africa my Africa of Du Bois
has life been so still
since then when hope was molded through the grief of being
when life was livid and lived one minute at a time and those who fell
the dead
with an educated skill wiped their grief from our eyes
as they parted and passed
the whip the sound of the gun and the speed of the bullet those who fell were left behind
the vultures will come
we took one look at all this and walked on
they had held our cheeks between their warm and hard palms before they went
and we took their dead eyes with our own and walked on
oh the human race
is what we know and is what resides in our hearts
it was once
why must it repeat and we alone must answer
when the African desert was a route of non- people
the slaves
the economies we built and broke our nails and knees and backs as we worked with bare hands
the wealth we issued from our non being in foreign lands
we had walked on
as slaves on routes along and across the Sahara
we crossed under the whip of the hard and silver sun and that of the whip which was as if of fire
on the naked flesh
from the hand of wretched hearts and hatred
from people who hated us even as we did not know who they are
Africa hope
since when did Africa hope or when last did she hope
before or after Cartharge
before or after she built the Pyramids
before or after we built the Zimbabwe ruins or Thulamela
or when at Mapungbwe
which also must be the gift to humanity we planned and created friendships
with the Chinese and humanity having crossed the blade surface of the mighty blue waters
when and how long was that
you all are educated count that long long time ago
then what is hope if there has been the desert slave route
we ask our hearts
and the Atlantic slave route
and slave cities like Bagdad or the slaves who were swallowed by the seas
I ask my spirit if I can find it
what is hope
I ask
Because cities which glitter like glass have been scattered all over the earth as if they are mielie fields
with buildings hovering as if to touch the heavens
their height and size turning walking humans on earth into ants
these cities built with iron and stone from long ago
weigh on the spirit of us the slaves
where does it sit what nurtures it this hope
it is ours
as I
I see on the tv
those in the meandering queues on the continent and in the diaspora
as this thing comes walking
deliberately if it is not stopped
and they come on walking from the shacks from among parched trees of the village
from ghettoes
unknown unseen walking without sound in the quiet forlorn footpaths and streets
and alleys
I ask then does history repeat itself
as I ponder quietly quietly within any place in me
seeking me somewhere with those who are of the European renaissance
understanding that
a death in multitudes is a human tragedy I say
I seek hope so as not to be paralyzed by this sight by what I hear from that quiet distance
Italy Spain
the US
what do I see which I see to say sleep well dear folks
China you found the buttocks of a tiger and shook and threw it away
as we work here
we remember that we reared leopards and tigers and hyenas without them knowing
as we look at the mass graves in far lands we watch from here and plead with our being
with hope
never ever feel helpless or hopeless
they stand
those who only hear about the economy and cannot pronounce the word
they have seen what it does faraway from their being
they stand as they have forever so many times before in long queues
they stand and shuffle
we done so along the sahara sands we done so as we entered the ships
we done so in far flung lands we never knew
at the queues which are close and tight in formation and slower than the tortoise in motion
here this time
it does feel like a sinister snare waits
here there are no water taps
there is no water here to wash hands leave alone soap
somewhere around here
it is silent very quiet even as we speak it so quiet
footsteps leaving unseen footprints to somewhere around here
in these streets
after lockdown
it does feel like fear here
familiar fear we met once in the streets smelling of gun powder
not this one
it has been very very quiet here lately in places we know in which we sang and danced
where we walked hand in hand in love
it feels like a strange and unfamiliar street in a quiet night of a foreign town or city
if we stand in a queue quiet not looking at each other like this
it feels empty
what of an alley in the empty day and lone tall street lights hovering as if peeping as us
and at night
we are here but things we know feel so deserted
here the streets looked at by long street lights
it cannot be deserted here
the police the soldiers are here
leave alone a footpath of an unknown destination in a village or shantytown
it even feels like dogs are afraid and will not howl or bark or cross the street
the dog looks surprised and lost here
it is only shuffles and sounds of footsteps from queues
no songs or loud crackling laughter
we must not be hungry tomorrow the children must not look at us and cry
but even in the day something is quiet here but also not quiet
the music screams
it is quiet but not so quiet it feels like we are watching something we do not know
it is as if it is faraway or it is because we are faraway and quiet and we are walking
it a cruel contrast the way it is quiet these days
which gave birth to the reality of the other
the mind and the body are laden
not the spirit we will find it
it is even as if cars are afraid to pass by and drive away with their cargo
they are unusually steady these cars as if they are thing
the economy was here it walks with us as if it knows us
the economy
it walks in over worn shoes and baggy trousers and oversize jackets hanging
it does not speak our language so we keep look at each other and smile
it cannot know us we are familiar with each other
ask these streets which look and feel longer than they usually are to us
and the economy
we steal looks at each other walking in the streets
they are dirty
they are so because they are quiet even at night they are dirty
and disserted that is why
it is silent footsteps leaving unseen footprints here to somewhere around
we heard that this thing
it sits in the air this thing
it loves stainless steel in the crowded hospitals
this thing
it knew that there is lots of stainless steel cutlery in the world
and it came looking around
it is invisible and flies in the air thinner than mirage and more invisible
this thing
is it looking for places where it can’t be found because it can’t be seen
and because it it so treacherous
after lockdown
not only during lockdown
but forever
it is strange to see the quiet on the tv
of the streets of cities big and small
as the municipalities search for mass holes for burials we watch
will the next of kin be informed will they know of the hole
why is it so
is it hope that must answer this question
will hope answer from its belly
how so
it is true now
all of humanity must answer now how must we ask
who am i
so we know that we are asking us collectively
who am i
oh humanity
who am i
is an answer after the pick when it levels off
we must answer when the question is asked with ringing tambourines crying bells
and rumbling drums as if of thunder and trumpets announce what we want to know
proclaiming time
it cannot be the same again after all this…
tell the economy so
sa has 79 covid 19 deaths now
Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

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