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Archive for March, 2009

If I was to compose my own song along the lines of the Sound of Music’s – these are a few of my favourite things… I would include the Nguni Cow. The Nguni cattle breed is indigenous to Southern Africa.

Nguni Cattle, indigenous to Southern Africa

Nguni Cattle, indigenous to Southern Africa

Antjie Krog in her book Change of Tongue writes:

In Setswana, cattle are known as modimo o nko e metsi – god-with-the-wet-nose…. In a poem about cattle, some verses focus on their ability to bring nourishment even to strangers:

Cattle – they who draw the assegais to themselves
Malenkhu a marumo
they who produce warm milky milk
seapaa letoutou
they, the wet-nosed gods
modimo o nko e metsi
with their intense nourishing drink
mogodungwane o molelo
have cream that scorches the whiskers of men
more o fisang banna ditedu
the whiskers drip with cream that they did not plaster on themselves
dinya mafura di sa a tloteng
there is enough – even the mouths of foreigners shine with lustre
selo sa mosimane was Mokalaka

In Sotho culture, the seriti of cattle – their dignity and spirit – is almost as strong as that of humans and can be communicated with. Black cattle have the strongest seriti. The relationship with cattle is personal: each animal has a name and is visited daily and talked about. Precise terms are needed to describe the physical characteristics of cattle down to the finest detail. Where English would require a descriptive phrase, Northern Sotho has a single exact word: white with black markings is pududu; white with red markings, kebja; black with some white markings on the neck, Kgoopa. There are in the region of sixty words just to describe the colours of cattle.

During the Apartheid years, cattle were used as a heart-rendering metaphor for the oppressed by H.M.L. Lentsoane, in his well known poem about the Soweto uprising:

rumours of unrest and revolt are thrown up by motley black cattle that are dumb
cattle that are not sullen, although they obey the rules
cattle that are carefully kept under watch
cattle that murmur in muffled voices
against those who boisterously announce ideas of contempt
eventually they are strung up – they, the motley black cattle
the time of the covenant with the ancestors has arrived

E gorogile melaetsa ka kgonono,
E hlatswa ke thomo ya semuma,
Thomo ya go hloka matepe.
E tsitsinketswe thomo,
Ya fetlekwa ka lepopodumo,
Ya ahlaahlwa ka megopolo ya lenyatso
Mafelelong ya fegwe,
Kgauswi ya ba kgweranong le badimo.

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Julie Larios at The Drift Record.  Go treat yourself!  Thanks for all the thought provoking comments I received last week for The Slave’s Dream.poetryfridaybutton2



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Earlier this week for My World Tuesday I posted photo’s taken when we stayed at the Golden Gate National Park in South Africa. Here is the sky reminding us to see the hope entwined with the gloom.

Sky over Drakensberg Mountain Range, Golden Gate, South Africa

Sky over Drakensberg Mountain Range, Golden Gate, South Africa

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Go check out the sky at SKYWATCH FRIDAY

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The poetry stretch at Miss Rumphius Effect this week is to write a triolet, which is an eight line poem with a tightly rhymed structure and repeated lines.

I did two triolets comparing new romantic love with mature sacrificial love, I think.

Love is not blind

Watching pride and prejudice
Loud subterranean passion stirs
Longing for that  lost first kiss
Watching pride and prejudice
Remembering new love’s bliss
Buried under years and years
Watching pride and prejudice
Loud subterranean passion stirs.

Watching you stamp up and down
Upon our son’s bedding in the bath
Despite the vomit, you discard a frown
Watching you stamp up and down
Playing the part of a carefree clown
Two is better than one along this path
Watching you stamp and down
Upon our son’s bedding in the bath.

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These pictures were taken at the Golden Gate National Park in South Africa and include views of the famous Drakensberg Mountain Range.

View from Highlands Mountain Retreat, Golden Gate, South Africa

View from Highlands Mountain Retreat, Golden Gate, South Africa

If you look closely you can see the grass roofs of the lodges which are part of the Highlands Mountain Retreat where we stayed.

Drakensberg Mountain Range at Golden Gate National Park

Drakensburg Mountain Range at Golden Gate National Park

The viewer of the Drakensberg Mountain Range

The viewer of the Drakensberg Mountain Range

To travel the world from the safety of your home go visit My World.
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The prompt at One Single Impression is Equals.

Different but Equal

Your intense cold equals my intense heat
we both long for them to end.
The way you welcome spring, is so neat
I embrace the caress of cool air against my skin.

As I feel my way through a cavernous puddle
stretched right across our street, I think
this equals how your traffic jams in a huddle
Both slow us down enough to contemplate.

Coping with random attacks of malaria
the biggest killer in my continent Africa,
equals perhaps gun attacks in your area
stealing away our freedom from fear.

Your choice of twenty yogurts in an isle,
the pleasure of making that special dish-
equals the SMS message which causes a smile
“there`s brown bread at the bakery, today!”

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Time to Talk

Julia walked along the forest path, with the cascading view of never ending hills peeking through the gaps, where the sun poured in.  The last time she had walked along here, it was to show him the way,  and her feet had hardly touched the ground.  That was when the reality of him filled her whole being with such buoyancy.  Complete happiness. How she loved that lightness of being, which made her feel invincible, super woman in disguise.

Now she carried millstones in her pockets as she stumbled forward, blind to the beauty of this special place.  They had survived so much.  The jeers from car windows driving past as they walked hand in hand, people getting up to leave when they walked into a  restaurant, giving them accusing glares.   That time she wasn’t in, and a man escorted him out the building at knife point.  Two such private, introverts loosing all public anonymity.

Another painful blow struck her heart as she remembered the effect he had upon her physically. In her wildest dreams she would never have imagined anything so powerful.  Just a look from across a room and she thought she would explode.   How could she go on without him.  Breaking off a sprig from a bush, she tore off the leaves whispering, “I have to have him, I have to, I have to”.

Julia  reached the waterfall and sitting on their rock,  she  felt that kick in the stomach that occurred  each time she recalled the hardness in his gaze,  wiping out all love from his eyes.  The worst of it, is it had been all her doing.  What was that stupid, stupid thing she had said.  Something about diluting his darkness.  She had tried to explain this strong instinctive desire to have his babies, and the sense that she couldn’t because of the whiteness in her genes messing with his.  It was to do with this whole black consciousness thing she was experiencing.  In her mind everything black was good and everything white was bad.   She recalled the condescending way he had ripped her simplistic political analysis to shreds.

Welile,  his confidante, had told Julia that behind his anger was pain.  She had to get through to him that she loved the particular person he was.  Him, him, him – the individual. The particular way he looked, that wry smile of his, the way his eyes bore right through her, his uncombed hair over the weekend.   The way he didn’t follow the crowd but made his own way through the political minefields.  That contagious laugh.   A smile broke across her face as she recalled  how as a small rural boy he  had once tried to smuggle a puppy into his bed, in a culture where dogs were strictly outdoor animals, kept to assist with the important task of hunting.  He had paid for this attempt by being made chief poop scooper around the dust swept yard.

Once again anxiety swept over her at the thought of loosing him. He had once told her that the ineffectual way she pronounced the clicks in his mother tongue made him want to grab her tongue and smack it with a hammer. “I need to take a pair of scissors and not a hammer to my tongue”, she thought bitterly. Then out of the blue the words of the sermon she had inadvertently tuned into on the radio, driving over here, pierced through her thoughts.   She had been about to change channels, being instantly put off by the sermonizing tone of voice, when she heard the preacher say, “No-one is more influential in your life then you are, because no-one talks to you more than you do.  You are in an unending conversation with yourself.”  Julia had recognised the truth in this, and had stayed listening.   The LOUD VOICE had continued to read Psalm 42 which was all about the troubled soul, THE SOUL IN TORMENT.    According to the LOUD VOICE the Psalm was an example of an internal conversation. The Psalmist DESIRE’S God’s presence but FEELS God’s absence.   Julia could empathise.   Though her particular longing was for him, as her relationship with God was currently on hold.   “So how does the Psalmist respond to this unending conversation in his soul, how does he address his soul?” , the voice on the radio had boomed on.   “The appropriate response when your soul is troubled is to talk to yourself, no.1 and talk to God, no. 2.”

Sitting on the rock, feeling tormented, Julia decided to talk to herself.   Listening in on the internal conversation she heard once again the words echoing above her beating heart, “I must have him, I must have him.”    “Why?” she interrupted.  “I will die without him”, came the reply.   “Why?”, she asked again.  “Because without him, I am nothing”, came the response.  Staring silently ahead as the thunder of the waterfall filled her head, there came to Julia the burgeoning awareness that this later answer was a complete lie.   And with this awareness something stirred within her, as if waking up after a long sleep.  She couldn’t quite name it, but felt a hint of hope as she pondered, “perhaps I should try conversation no.2, and talk to God.”

VisitSaturday Scribes for other posts on the theme of Awakening using the words in bold in this post.

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I read to the children while they are eating their breakfast from a set of books, one of which is Classic Poetry, an illustrated collection selected by Michael Rosen, pictures by Paul Howard. This week the poem was The Slave’s Dream.

The Slave’s Dream

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams
The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
Descend the mountain-road.

To read on to the end click here

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)

Harriet Tubman became known as the “Moses of her people” as she helped more than 300 slaves to escape to freedom in the North along the route of the Underground Railroad.

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Happy poetry Friday, all!

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