It was long before dawn. I moved carefully so as not to disturb the woman who sleeps next to my heart every night I am home. But she awakened suddenly and saw that I was dressing up.
“What is it,” she asked. “You’re not having a heart attack, are you?” I have an unusually high level of cholesterol.
“No,” I said and tried to brush off her direct question with a smile in the dark. “It is this violence, this death. I was having a bad dream.”
She looked at me waiting for an explanation.
“I have this thing lodged in me, choking my soul,” I said. “I am going to write.” She understood that the thoughts and ideas that keep me awake at night and sometimes force me out of bed.
In the quite night, I went to the little study to sit down. I did not quite understand how the death of a young man I have never met except on tabloid pages could affect me so deeply. But for the grace of God, it could have been me or anyone else I know who could have died that violent way. It is a South African thing but mostly black. Yes, it affects black men much, much more.
This violence! Oh, God, this violence! Random lines, disconnected yet coming together poured out of my soul. It was like a voice from the beyond.
It is for this reason that I cannot take responsibility for these words. All I know is that I was eager to get them out of my system, to articulate these flashes of inspiration. They had to come out. I know that there are many who think I am neither a writer nor a good one but these words had to come out:
Senzo Meyiwa: 1987 – 2014
Your solid strong black back
Was torn by a single bullet
That ripped muscles into tatters.
You fell to lie on the floor
Your face drowning
In a pool of red blood tears and sweat.
We do not wish for our stars
-or Wanna-be Somebody and the Nobodies
To die this way:
to be shot down dead
With our own mothers fathers
Brothers and sisters
Looking on helplessly,
Trapped and fearful victims
That neither protect nor defend their own.
Something in me,
In all of us has died when
you, smiling giant that blows kisses, to the heavens and blacks stars
Should die that way:
Shot down in cold blood
For a cellphone and money
That will be sold to the black market
To buy bmws booze labels and babes
But no books.
I am sick and tired
Of being sick and tired
Of men shooting down black men
Because of the cars they drive,
The girls they date
And the cellphones
they play games with.
I would have preferred that
And die with good food
And false magazine lifestyle
Clogging and choking your veins
With hypertension cholesterol and stress.
This senseless black on black violence
Is a bomb exploding
on Mandela’s legacy
freedom and democracy
Living many with question marks
To long for the days of
a vicious capitalist oppressor
who could keep this self destructive
black violence and empty rage in check.
Your death has become too familiar,
So commonplace in our life
With robbery rape and murder
Almost a way of life
In the most unequal society
That now is
The world capital of crime
Against humanity of Africans.
It is fear and indifference
Couched in political history
and èmpty rhetoric
That rules this country.
I will not mourn your death
But weep for a country
that is eating its own children
With brother turning against brother
Selfish and greedy
While others enjoy the beautiful land
And control of the economy.
For self consolation,
I will think of your agile body
And nimble moves
As you flew in the air
Higher than a bird
To reclaim your dignity
and life purpose
and thus give us back our pride
when we had become
a bunch of losers.
I hope your soul will find peace
As our protectors and leaders
Try to find themselves
And the purpose of power
Beyond press conferences
And bribes to snitches.
One death in the hands of black thugs
is one too many
We do not need for a star
To be popped
To see the gathering dark clouds.
I am afraid
Now we all are afraid
For who is next?
I hope you rest
In peace my brother
You were a people’s hero.
I wrote that Tuesday morning until the sun came up. One line after another came jumping out. In fact, I have not given much thought to the so-called poem itself.
Later on, as she was preparing breakfast, I gave it to her. She gave it a quick glance.
“Oh, no,” she said, “It is too long. I will need to give it a skip for now. I have to prepare breakfast.”
I looked at her and walked away. I knew that the best thing would be to give it to the world, to my fellow citizens. I am only a conduit. On many occasions I am not responsible for what I write. I hope Senzo will find peace in the other world.
I pray for peace in our country, for us to learn to respect life and treat each other with respect. Otherwise, we will one day all perish as fools.
STOP THIS VIOLENCE! STOP KILLING THE MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF OUR COUNTRY.