3 women, a poem in honor of Fezeka

.      .      .   Durban was on fire all of last week thanks to the Poetry Africa festival taking place in the coastal city. A week of art in which we almost forgot about the protests, and about the death of Fezekile “Fezeka” Kuzwayo happening right outside the theatre doors. But three poets would not let business go on as usual, they came together and performed a poem in honor of Fezeka, known in the media as Khwezi, who was buried in Durban on the same day as the Poetry Africa finale.The poem was written and performed by Maya Wegerif or Maya the Poet who was a family friend of Fezeka, Koleka Putuma, a phenomenal young poet based in Cape Town and renowned Nigerian America poet Bassey Ikpi.  They read it to a standing ovation at the BAT theatre.

#poetryafrica2016 #finale

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(Bassey)

if you were offered a candy coated

heart

would you take it?

or would you ask for something

made of barbed wire

a poison apple, maybe

a death soaked kiss from a stranger

which one?

you who offers nothing

would you pull the wings off another butterfly?

hold an angel by the throat and dare it to scream?

who are you really?

do you know?

if the truth showed it’s face

would you recognize it?

would you lie to keep

it from revealing your secrets?

what of those puzzle pieces hidden in

a chest of drawers behind your bed?

how many hearts?

how many women broken, a river of burgundy

cascading from their throats

(Koleka)

Some mothers set their daughters alight to keep their men warm.

And some family members would rather describe the smoke than smell like it.

(Maya)

Last night there was a vigil

A vigil is a time of staying awake during the time usually spent sleeping

Especially to keep watch or to pray

BUT AS FOR GOD

I stopped believing in him the day that devil was sworn in

Hand on the bible saying his vows,

Whole country marrying him openly,

Like he was a stranger.

Like we didn’t know about the wife who left,

About the one who killed herself because of him,

About the one that tried to poison him.

Why did we think we could change him?

(Bassey)

How many second chances

third? fourth?

how many bodies buried under your

wreckage

where is the glass crushed against your rib cage

the gust of wind and sand where your heart should be

where is this closet that holds your soul

Why are you

elevated from the destruction you cause

recreating truth to fit your needs

do you hold any regrets?

the truth reveals itself like

a serpent

like the spark of light before the fire

who will be the next to burn?

and when will it end?

when someone swallows a fistful of pills in your honor?

when there are actual corpses

with your name carved into their wrists?

when the bullet holds only two names?

will you feel it then?

will something then serve as spark to move

your spirit ?

would you even hear it if someone other than you

hurts, aches, dies?

maybe lies help

maybe they serve as balm and lullaby

maybe one day you will find a reason to cry for

someone other than yourself.

until then, who will be next?

(Maya)

Tell me this country was not a battered woman running back to him

Where we could have voted against,

went straight to the ballot box and said we believe him.

If only one woman’s word was enough,

If only dozens didn’t have to be flung to the ends of the earth

And beyond it

If only we didn’t always have to remain here stunned,

saying we knew but did nothing.

If only we stood together before the funerals.

If only we weren’t silent all these years.

Until your death called our bodies and found us on vibrate,

Shaking.

(Koleka)

Sometimes [hell] is a penis.

Sometimes [women] repent just to save themselves from encountering the devil.

Sometimes [uncle] is a boyfriend.  a test you will keep taking but always fail.

Sometimes [uncle] is a siren in some living rooms.

Sometimes [uncle] is an aircon everyone is too lazy to adjust or switch off.

Sometimes [the daughters] are not left alone with him.

But he is not banned from family gatherings either.

Sometimes [collateral damage] is another way of saying:

I am a coward.

It’s easier to hold the [woman] accountable for a ‘lie’ than it is to hold the [uncle] accountable for the truth.

(Maya)

I went to your funeral today,

You would have loved it

All your pall bearers were women

All of them gathered around you

Women shouting

Women speaking

Women calling out

And still trying to bottle our water

so as not to spill the one next to us

Am I allowed to say that we were a little relieved for you?

All of us secretly envying you

Finally, someone to carry you

Because Nothing in this country makes sense

Mourning the life, celebrating the death

Everything in this country is upside down

Elect the rapist, exile the woman

Everything in this country is the wrong way round

AS FOR YOU

Fezeka, know that you did not fail anyone

In 2006 they said burn the bitch

And they’ll say other things

A country will call a woman a failure

For only withstanding the fire for ten years before finally glowing

(Koleka)

Some of us wouldn’t be able to live with just us knowing.

(Bassey)

Most of us couldn’t live with the whole country knowing.

(Maya)

And who could live if they hated you for it?

So fuck the ANC women’s league

The city has been crying all week for you.

We have been crying all week for you

But why must it always be our tears falling?

Why must it always be us falling?

Falling in to graves all the time?

Us on our backs all the time?

Too many women are falling without seeing change

Too many panties have fallen without seeing change.

Let the fees fall for a change

Let the men fall in their rage

There will be no more moments of silence

Vusani abo mama, vusani abo dade benu,

a man has broken into the house and is calling himself father

Lock the doors tonight

We’re going to need more than a prayer to send this devil back to hell

Tonight we are starting a month long vigil

A time of saying enough is enough during the time usually spent sleeping.

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I Don’t Want to Be Cute!

maya wegerif

I don’t want to be cute!

I am that girl that runs barefoot on the heels of her happily-ever-after
I’m going to be that person that dares to claim the sky with my laughter
I will refuse to be called mistress because I don’t have a master
and fuck it I’ll curse if that gets to the point faster.

I want to be that girl that refuses to wear heals
I want to be known as the poet that reads Braille out loud because she speaks what she feels-and not necessarily what sells
because my expression refuses to be that candy in the flavors he
chooses and picks off the shelf
Fuck it I’d rather be myself.

“No”, he says. “That’s not cute.”

Well I don’t want to be cute if it means reducing myself to bite-sized packets
Conveniently packaged for a man’s consumption
I don’t want to be cute if it means you can belittle me to “baby” and
“shorty” and therefore constantly have me at your mercy
Reserved Reduced Respectful Restricted
But desirable. In the same way a man might desire a car
Obedient to his every instruction
Sits patiently waiting for him to get in and drive
The quieter the better- the ride’s smoother that way

Well, I’m going to be the woman who just doesn’t give a damn
Keep your cute if it means you can call me your girl while I must refer to you as my man

I don’t want to be cute if it means men decide what I wear and how I act
I did not make you my costume designer nor did I make you my director
Because in the movie of my life I’m playing a far bigger role than an mere actor
My existence is my art, my self-worth will play a big part
and my own goals will not be an extra

I am that poet that seeks and seeks until she finds
I for one will not be blind
I want to be accused of having voices in my head b
ecause I speak my mind.

Who said I was trying to be cute?

– Maya Wegerif