This poem is for
The one who built and birthed the African nation
The one who is either at the forefront or background of every African child’s struggle
This is for the crown of our nation
The chief cornerstone that the builders of Africa rejected
Yet she is the foundation that holds Africa down

This poem could be titled…

But see,
If I had titled this piece RACISM
I’d have the attention of every black person
And other people of colour
If I had titled it FEMINISM
I’d have the solidarity of every woman
And some men,
whether or not they agreed with my ideals
And if I had titled the piece
I’d have the attention of every queer person
And most members of the LGBTQI+ community…
In all these equations,
The common denominator is the Black African Woman
Yet when we speak on issues affecting her
She is left to stand alone…

Maybe this piece should be titled

We need to stand up for the Black African Woman
Not because she needs a saviour
Because see,
She has fought many wars
And conquered many struggles

When she lifts up her fist
She isn’t raising the race card
OR declaring war against masculinity or “patriarchy”
She is simply reminding herself that buried seeds don’t die in vain
She is declaring that she too will rise
and multiply!

Maybe this piece is actually titled Social Cohesion and Social Justice

What would that even mean to her
When we keep on conveniently minding our own business when injustice is inflicted upon her…

Isn’t it said that when watch injustice and do nothing about it
We are as guilty as the perpetrators??
We are the perpetrators!
We are the same children she either birthed or raised
Who grew up to be more painful as thorns on her skin
than the labour pains she endured to give us life
Then we come back and subject her to the hardest labour with the least pay
Causing her to be the one most affected by poverty, inequality and HIV and aids
She isn’t only plagued by disease but tormented by all social ills…
She is the least safest on the same streets she built with her bare hands!

She cleans houses she could never afford to stay in
Works in neighbourhoods she could never live in
We treat her as if she is only good enough to impart lessons into our children
Yet we think she is too stupid to be spoken to like the adult that she is
Not by you though right? You were raised well…
What about that bed you left undone for your maid to fix
Was that necessary?!

I won’t stop writing until this poem makes you feel uncomfortable enough
To step off of her crown and let her shine
I won’t stop speaking
Because maybe my eloquence will cause you to pay more attention
But I don’t blame you for being a bit intimidated by her

When an African Woman Speaks
She is like roaring thunder
Her truths shake the very core of injustice
Her stature oozes with authority and power
She causes kings to vacate their thrones and bow at her feet
She shakes every kind of oppressive system
She is unapologetic and demands change
She incites order and commands undivided attention with each word
The world cannot but shut up and listen
No wonder she is perceived as angry and bitter
The truth does that to people!

Feeling uncomfortable??
That’s the point…
Taming a Lioness doesn’t make her less powerful
It just means that you should be careful not to slip and forget
With or without your help
She will rise and her roar will remind you that
It is as true now as it always was

Kay-Dee Mashile


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