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There’s No Africa Without Us

 

 

By Edward Ndopu, Namibia

We did not choose Africa.

It chose us.

There’s no Africa without us.

For a while

we thought the Berlin Conference

would change us, but

nothing changed us, not even

the colonial rituals you brought, not even

the whole Era of Apartheid, and the

plunder of our wealth.

 

We gave everything

and asked nothing in return.

We are cheap and very undemanding.

We are a well behaved and disciplined people,

with our lies and our smiles

and stories about our lives.

 

We did not know the meaning of gods

that men look like them despite appearances.

To learn about the world,

to discover the one we were deprived of,

we opened our innocence.

After so many false prophecies

sweating and breathless and confused

our scattered souls are frozen.

Did you ever realize at all

what was happening to us?

 

You will find us again between the heart

and mind, where disgraced

we’ll dance together again, but to a song

you and us would never choose to hear,

in the name of something new

and feel our fate in what we cannot know.

 

This is our Africa.

And we are present, the end

or beginning of humanity

feeding with the dead,

with you surrounding us

composing our world

We are it: it is us

whose beauty wavers with us

violated beyond all imagining

whose old wounds are scarred on our skulls

whose democracy lies in griefs and sorrows

clothed in institutionalized despair

we are perpetually reinventing time.

It is your turn now,

your turn to follow us.

There’s no Africa without us.

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