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Bantu Serenade

an excerpt from ‘Bantu Serenade’ by Ntone Edjabe (featuring Naila Belvett)

me i think there’s symbolism in those white policemen killing biko’s brain first. going for his head. symbolism that natives currently running the show seem to miss. or maybe they’ve already been decapitated themselves. they see the symbolism of two towering dicks falling in the centre of NY. of circumcision on TV. of bush alternating delivery of bombs and food parcels in the afghan sky. of the rand at ground zero so visitors at WSSD can shop dead in jozi. of exporting everything ’proudly south african’ into the rest of africa except drugs for Aids. of ngema singing when he’s not a singer. of luyt dragging madiba to court. of madiba visiting the silence around mzwakhe. of soyinka kakking on about miss world. of mamphela at the world bank. so how could they miss the wounds on biko’s head: our brain is under attack! and i don’t know if plunging one’s head in the mud would save it from the wash. those in the know say its a strategy. they say one needs time in the belly to understand the diet of the beast. mugabe has other plans: he’s appointed a war cabinet: debts to pay…but who will pay apartheid’s debts? and ‘death’ is the password here coz if murder she wrote some visiting american student might ask ‘why?’ and that might just force too many of us to take our head out of the mud…to loosen the tie…beside im told it’s not good for nation building. me i say the orange broers are not queuing up for membership cards to enter this building site. who said the broederbond was gone? who pays for these guys khaki uniforms? and the foundation to remind us the core of his frank talk was ‘black is beautiful’! serious. but even if bantu’d appointed himself the official beautician for the people of the south surely he wouldn’t fail to point out all the uglyness that needs his services? coz i see a lot of ugly blacks around. still. and they too are shouting ‘black is beautiful’! me i think biko’s head’s been pushed so high up the establishment’s ass it hurts. and it’s not beautiful. and the establishment is growing so many heads: mtn, eskom and debeers are now acting as black beauty agents: graduates rolling down oxford rd tell you they too are fighting the establishment. fighting ‘global apartheid’. the south african dream is on & played out live in sandton: study hard, work hard and you’ll make it. ‘hard’, goes the ad. so all are queuing up all over again to enter the new SA. nouveau SA. neo-SA. freedom is the right to fuck who you want says the bill. so we line at the till paying for our individual struggles. and work ‘hard’ at it. like she, on a mission to organise a mass pro-ganja demonstration. buying votes so she can smoke. find your struggle and be free with e. like he, ’fighting back’ racism in rugby. me i think the liberals here don’t get enuf props for their assimilation programme. me i say they’ve outclassed the french: many many natives are jumping the queue for a part in the drama. watch us all stand in line for a slice of the devil’s pie. but of course all of this happens on an afro tip: the fake malangatana replaces the fake picasso on the wall and bob marley replaces bob dylan in the cd player. it’s the african century so ex-revolutionaries skipping furiously between crash courses in golf and crash courses in djembe drumming.

(c) Ntone Edjabe

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