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I hail from the ancient un-colonized tea-pot looking enclosure that defines blackness in its purest form, where hunting game is not a game but a way of life. Chasing behind the game each day for some game meat for dinner. Using decades old tactics passed on from the generations past to defend the inherited beautiful land which has attracted pink, red and white folks from all races living life on different ends of the earth with its numerous precious stones whose value was unknown to my late great grandfather. The same stones whose love has made me and my brother enemies for life. The same stones for whose love I killed, lied and conspired and the same stones I lost to the state when it found me illegally in possession of the glass-like things that have blood in their mid-point, the same glass-like things that made my world go round for a moment when that Nigerian man bought a couple which I had risked my life for, for a couple of one hundred dollar bills. But it’s just the memory that remains at the back of my mind of what I am, what I was and what I will be, for these are the times, the realities I have to face.
I am centuries if not millenniums old. I was once free to explore the green stretches of savanna land in an African Summer, the bare trees in winter, hunt the game as I so wished, grow those crops brought bt those Portuguese men with no one pointing a metal stick with holes in it to my head until the men of no knees came. They threatened my homefolks and took me to be their slave. I worked like I would get a US$10 000 pay check at the end of the month, working on those plantations they called ‘prazos’ like I had a family to feed, like the whole community depended on me and I had to, like my mother’s life depended on my working myself to death. I had to respect my baas like he was my own father, calling him names fit for God only who created me out of fear of that which he constantly held in his right hand which had the power of life and death.
What hurt me the most is, I had to be a slave to a foreign man who had suddenly become feared for he thought himself a superior man with a ’superior color’ and the power that comes with it. He brought those niceties which were beautiful to look at, sweet on the tongue and soft on the hands. The niceties which came for a price a hundred times more than normal were few and suddenly they became a necessity we could not do without. What a curse! Conflict came to be. We had had a peaceful lifestyle amongst ourselves but now it was all gone because of those things which we exchanged for our precious gold. The spirit of brotherhood faded slowly and eventually brothers turned against brothers. Killing and enslaving fellow black brothers from some other mothers because they had inherited a capitalist state of mind and a white man’s heart, all this for self enrichment. Kings were Kings no more but slave masters who were responsible for the capturing of the slaves.
As my eyes were opened to the realities that faced me, I fought for liberty. I fought with a brave heart, with my life on the line for the sake of my fellow black men, for my mother to put on a smile on her face one more time and not to cry herself to death every time I’m arrested for being a black man with an ambition to be a freeman, for my mother to sleep peacefully not like a dog that sleeps like a security guard who wakes up at the lowest decibel. I fought with so much faith and one day tables turned and my life took a turn flowing in directions I would gladly flow with it. I did not have dead faith after all. I eventually did bring happiness to my mama.
But the optimism and the astrological wave that brought good things did not last for long as the drought hit. The dams, the fields, the service stations, the shops and the bans all ran dry. My mother again would walk eight miles with that left leg that always gives her problems to that shop by the roadside on your way out of town where they sold mealie-meal once in a blue moon. I thought hard to myself, I thought I had brought happiness to my people but it seemed so clearly that I had taken them back centuries when there was no rain for three and a half years.
It was bad enough to see my father sleep in his car for three consecutive nights at a queue that stretched from a popular 6th avenue service station going round the aging city blocks like an anaconda squeezing life out of an unfortunate victim who has fallen prey. All I could do was watch for this was the freedom which I had brought to my mother and father. They were beginning to enjoy the fruits of all my years of fighting in the bushes that had sheltered all my ancestors.
My little brothers and sisters began to drop out of school with no high school certificates nor college degrees. Schools had either become playgrounds or had been closed because my mother and father could no longer afford to send my little brothers and sisters to school because inflation was hitting an all time high of a million plus percentage. My older sisters at varsity saw it better to fall back on those shameless pot-bellied, Benz-driving white headed men old enough to be their fathers just so as not to be chased back home for non-payment of fees. At the same time as girls they could not do without food supplies and clothing in this year where fashion trends change on a daily basis. All I could do was watch and today I do not have them. They died together with the men who were attracted by them as nectar does to the bees. They succumbed to the deadly virus that has to date claimed millions of my fellow black men.
In all the years of my so far infinite life I have concluded that I am black to the core, ageless, timeless and resilient. I live on through thick and thin, there, where there is no bread, for men shall not live on bread alone, where there is no fuel for I was made to walk the walk for hundreds of miles. I live on, where prices go up every day for I do not have to worry about tomorrow. I live on where there is no power, where there is no water for that is what I was made for-to live on. Behind the blackness is a timeless resilience, endurance beyond human expectations. I am black call me a race, a nation, a continent or a man. The bottom line is- I live on. They tried to break me, enslaving me, taking my liberty away from me, separating me from my family, taking me across nations to new lands I had never known, working me out beyond humane limits. My hands, my feet cracked till they cracked no-more. My skin developed a layer resistant to the whipping I had to endure on every black day of my life because I am black and my resilience is timeless.
- Lovemore Mafukure, Zimbabwe
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