MISTAKEN IDENTITY

( for Paris Mashile )

We were inexplicably mistaken
for tree dwelling squirrel monkeys
unenchored | indolent natives
godless | unmoored
kite without a string
loathsome | cursed descendants
of Ham | unstuck glue
snot nosed praise singers
bubonic plague | phuzamandla
mbunyana | bad and mad
rumble in the jungle
empty tins | fumbling
narrow African nationalists

Only for them to usurp
the gold and diamonds
oxen | rivers | mountains
platinum | cattle | elephants
the sea | oh the seas
and renaming them after
their aristocrats | trekkers
our lillies in the valleys | waterfalls
the sun and the wind
the sacred grounds
endowed to us
by our ancestors

We are seriously mistaken
for randy human weeds
tokens | teddy bears
bloody lazy Aids carrying
kaffirs | traitors
at the world trade centre
Man Friday | house niggers
dogs in the manger
rats and mice
running without end
in a bad smelling sewer
good for nothing
gravy train
wannabes

Only on the pain
of their envy
of the love and
intimacy we have
with the soil | with our
African personality
human dignity | honour
with our indigenous selves

They deliberately mistake us
for trouble makers
in morning fog
of the African revolution
when we are rainmakers
drenching | blessing
our patched land

JAKI SEROKE

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