Phillippa Yaa De Villiers: Stolen Rivers
For Chiwoniso Maraire
We Africans came to Berlin to sing
and to recite poetry. We had an agenda:
Remembering our anthems of loss,
galloping, consuming, the pillage, the cries,
like forest fires, like haunted children,
how can we, how can we even
begin to redress?
Enraged, we wanted revenge,
and then, Chiwoniso, you stepped on the stage and
you opened your mouth
and every stolen river of platinum and gold
poured out of your mouth in song;
Your voice etched us out of the night
and doubled the light in each of us.
You restored all the treasure-houses
from Benin to Zimbabwe, Mapungubwe to Cairo;
Africa moved its golden bones,
shook off its heavy chains
and danced again.
That night I thought
love could purchase bread,
Africans would not be hungry.
The poem reminded me of three other poems, or songs, which feature rivers: as streams of history, life source, now often poisoned, as wells in need of healing. Turn over >