The Kopjie at Marikana

now that I can remember
let me tell you what happened
that day on the kopjie
just off Marethwane River
now called Marikana
it was a painful day
when that order to kill was given
and motionless those men there lay

years roll by and this is the eighth
when all continue to stand by
through their indifference
they want to plead innocence
regarding the 16th August events
when men were sent to fly
as enraged police followed the order
killing thirty and four in the massacre

shot from behind
how do you claim
they posed danger to you
even when you claim
they killed their friend
workers wanted more bread
for their families
who saw them die on the kopjie

dry as it was
Marethwane refused
to drink the tears
that left their traces
on the ground
not even contaminating
the molten blood
that hardened in the soil
that bore witness to the deaths

the kopjie is red
sitting just below the Kgaswana Mountain
that shields the wealth
dug out by the men
whose blood raced
to the dry stream
that could not drink
to quench its thirst
for no sane mother can eat
her own children
who died before her own eyes

the earth that received
the fallen braves
moments after their dances
rhythmed to the request songs
to the ancestors
was warm and welcoming of them
for they were never at fault
when they died on the kopjie

they are a story
of continued impoverishment
of Africans and enrichment
of men from lands faraway
of a cry sounding from years gone by
of familes torn
of tears fallen
of blood spilled
of men killed
because they fought enslavement

women wept for their husbands
children cried for their fathers
they will not see them anymore
but their cruel deaths
they will forever remember
as they witnessed them mowed down
without provocation
everyone saw them sitting on the kopjie
when the police guns vomited fire of death

brave women joined the men
on the kopjie the next day
how could they behind stay
for they wondered what would happen
to them and the children
when they would see their fathers no more
subsequently some mothers too perished
while many still remain impoverished

how can the cries of children be ignored
how can we be oblivious to the truth
when it is obvious the police
had no reason to be on the kopjie
but to rip life out of those men
and rob children and mothers
their sources of livelihood
left without compensation
and still no consolation

Marikana cried and we watched
as bullets whizzed and took life
of innocent men whose only sin
was to refuse humiliation
in the deep holes that held wealth
which they benefitted not from
while devoured daily
by the merciless mine graves

now that I can remember
those are heroes who will always
remind us our liberation has not yet come
maybe we all should go to the kopjie
and take that oath like they did
to declare our solidarity in that fight
of restoring our dignity
and rediscovering our humanity

now that you also can remember
what would you do for poor the mothers
whose hungry children lost their fathers
on the Kopjie at Marikana
they solemnly gaze at that hill
their fathers took an oath there and fell
wondering if their turn shall come
to bring their conscience calm

there I told you that story
about the massacre on the kopjie
now that you can remember
what would you do
about the children of Marikana
who saw the breath
of their fathers wrenched
from their bodies
on the kopjie at Marikana

By Vusumzi Moyo