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Arts & Culture Last Updated: Apr 11, 2018 - 10:05:38 AM

A poem for the late Winnie Mandela
By Obediah Michael Smith
Apr 10, 2018 - 6:35:25 PM

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Shall I
compare thee
to a Summer’s Day
[For Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,
26 September 1936 – 2 April 2018]

did she fall
was she fallen

if she did,
when did she fall

did she fail,
was she tarnished

think of Job
and his temptations

think of the trials that arose
all that he was put through,
pushed through

and he did not submit
he did not succumb

I’ve heard of police officers
interrogating suspects

heard someone tell
of having his head

shoved into a toilet bowl
with feces – police  officers

demanding that he confess
that he committed the crime

I know that it is possible
to be pushed
until we break, until we snap

until we are no longer
who we were

did this happen to her

oh, to be pushed past
the breaking point

and what are you then
what are you when this happens

I see books for sale by many
along sidewalks, here in Harare,
downtown – their covers faded

is it that they have been
bleached until bland,
sitting out in the sun

oh, for those in our societies
who have been so stressed,
so deprived, so depressed

that their humanity has been
twisted, damaged,

so much so- to such an extent
that what is left is subhuman,
is scary

what is left are monsters,
creatures who would do you harm
to get one dollar from you

to get ten Rand or whatever
they consider to be valuable

see those for whom
life is worth so little
that they fling themselves down

anywhere upon the ground
and sleep there

sound asleep for hours
wherever they dropped
themselves – not unlike litter

oh, how such souls have fallen
oh, for dignity, for who
and for what sustains it

oh, for that support that
love inspires

we see the crimes
that some commit

for which they are charged
for which they must pay

and often,
we forget to connect
or fail to connect the crimes
committed again such persons

crimes to which
they were subjected
that resulted in the crimes
that they commit, the situations

that they descended into
or were plunged into

in many instances these crimes
are crimes of states
of the state against the individual

Nelson and Winnie, pulled apart,
apartheid separating them

how were they, their children,
supposed to survive that

and in what shape
or bent out of shape

they gave their lives up
for the new state

so that a new
state in South Africa
could come into being  

© Obediah Michael Smith

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