Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: This Fight Bears My Name


This poem was penned as a tribute to Madikizela-Mandela and will be published as part of his poetry anthology later this year.

This Fight Bears My Name

Winnie Madikizela Mandela

Our very self was threatened,
Subjugated, cursed with ease.
What am I am to say
when their eyes,
stare at me with sheer grief,
at the torment,
the guile so defined?
I refuse to lead them to apologise
for home is the land
and the land bears their names.
What I am to say to their being;
derided, defiled, lacking peace?
When their bodies have not slept,
For all long night they sat and wept?
I must fight!
This fight bares my name.

Valleys are still adorned
With my father’s footsteps,
when he too renounced silence.
armed with nothing but his name,
The warrior led the cry of fearlessness.

The unimposing hill of Isandlwana,
reminiscent of my grandmother’s bounty.
The face in the clouds is that of my sister,
The soil, so rich, splendid and healthy
Exemplifies the very nation it holds.
I am this place.
I am this land.

I fight for I can do nothing else
My father’s blood speaks,
My mother’s soul weeps.
It beckons even those creeks,
fighting for weeks,
Barring whips,
tears as ablutions,
with my every presence I fight.
Patiently I stomach derision,
Not because it is right or might
But because I know that bruising
Can only pre-empt triumph.

Every shot, whip, curse and pain
unites me strongly
with my suffering brethren.
When the heat of unity reaches
the maximus of toleration,
there, and only there,
Does silence end
Then truest wrath
Bellows with might;
This fight bears my name!

When my own self bled
From Blood River to Sharpville
From Sharpville to Soweto,
From Soweto to Boipatong,
I had to fight!
This fight bears my name.

When my mother was lesser than the house pet,
My father reduced to having children as his masters,
I had to fight!
This fight bears my name!

Convinced and unstoppable,
A period to that history was necessary.
With every fist in the air,
With no words to spare,
I am unashamedly calling to being
A new story for my people.

This post was first published on Daily Maverick
Image: Wikipedia

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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