Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín

Freedom Is Not On Sale


Mvula Ya Nangolo was born on August 9, 1943, in Oniimwandi Village, Uukwambi District, in northern Namibia. He is an accomplished journalist who has worked for two major radio networks in Central Europe. He also helped launch “The Namibia Hour” on Radio Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam, and has worked as commentator, producer, and news reader for Radio Zambia in Lusaka. He has published feature articles in the Daily News and Sunday News, Tanzania, Times of Zambia and Sunday Times, Zambia, Namibia-today (SWAPO), and African Magazine, London. He works for the Department of Information and Publicity and edits Namibia-Today, the official organ of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO). His printed chapbook, From Exile, is a book of poems in English. We are including some of his poems.

FROM EXILE

From exile when I return
I’m going to beg someone to touch me
Very, very tenderly
And gradually put me at ease
I wish to feel again how life feels

I’ve not been home for many, many years
For many years I’ve been out of sight
For many years I’ve not been touched
And I’ve learnt to be homesick here in exile
Where life is not so bright

I’ve not been touched so tenderly
I’ve been searched by bullets
Going through my camouflage
And leaving my heart so flesh
I wish to feel again how life feels

From exile when I return
I’m going to beg someone
To introduce the newly born babies
Help me identify those grown-ups
And lead me to the cemetery
Where friends and playmates have long gone

From exile when I return
I’m going to beg someone
to understand my silence
the letter that didn’t arrive
about our clan and tribe
for now I only belong
to my country and nation
still I wish to be touched tenderly
by hand and atmosphere
of people in a peaceful sphere.

 

NARRATIVE POET

Create only our perfect poem
with images from ancestral heroes
and our oral literature
plus my grandmother’s dreams

Listen, for your stanza-
There’s the drum
and raindrops falling on your hut,
dancing composers-plus
my grandmother’s folk tales

Themes taken from our village eldest,
my mother… the boys at circumcision,
of battles fought and won

Semantics…
But leave grandmother’s signature out!
She’s not your pen-pal.

 

SOWETO CHILD

Just want to spell my name
learn norms of this literature game
I guess it’s the same
if civilized whence you came
even just a little sane
realized we were the same
team mates in this game
then no more blame

Yet all the same
you’ve acted insane
broken my child’s heart in shame
you’re a beast and I blame
my twisted wrist in chain
my bullet-riddled brain
do you know I am in pain?

There’ll be no more demos in vain
non-violent registering of pain
for as long as I am still my own captain
now that I hurt again

My twisted wrist all pain
if that’s not your shame
I’m convinced we aren’t same
’til you’ve paid for your shame
It’s all yours-pain!

Soweto Massacre, June 1976

 

HUNTER’S SONG

        I
When time was then
   my people then
began to sing or dance
   to the most beautiful tune of Mama nature
nothing scarce but food in abundance
  they sang songs in praise of the rising sun
adored the new moon but soon thought
  how wonderful a world
how beautiful a people they were
  this, when time was then.

       II
Now that Mama nature is as old
   as all the best wishes in every heart
now that she’s as old
   as all the unfulfilled longings
in every life
   the hunter’s song is loud and clear
his heart beats far slower
   he’s swiftly approaching the noon of his life

 

       III
Son of my khoi-khoi
   you can no longer gallop like a young zebra
you can no longer drink water from ostrich eggs
   in faraway places
they’ve taken your bow
   and you’ve nothing to show
they’ve hidden your poisoned arrow
   till tomorrow
thus, Kalahari, brave of my roaming khoi-khoi clan
   wait till tomorrow
and away with sorrow.

       IV
When death comes prowling like a leopard
    you said you’ll know it’s time to depart
but for the time being
   you wish to see those bare sand dunes of the
   Namib
you wish not to inhale polluted air
   you wish for the cooling shade of the great
Baobab
   where many moons ago you were born
and now that it’s the norm
   to rest buried in a numbered grave
what do you think of every morn of your life?
   hunters’, hunters’ son-my khoi-khoi brave?

 

       V
Let us together now
   before your eyes are closed
and your heart stops dancing to the tune of life
   let us together now

do the frog dance before tomorrow
   praise our ancestors without sorrow
and then search where they’d hidden your bow
   I need your poisoned arrow tomorrow

 

*Khoi-khoi means “people’s people” in the Nama language of Namibia, from khoi meaning “person”, “human being” or “people”.

 

PRETORIA DETAINEE

Unchained you were
yet I fear that you’re dying somewhere
in an unfamiliar environ
victim of systematic electric shock waves
of soft nourished colonial/civilian faces
Gestapo customs and facing unequal chances

Flesh and bones you’ve disappeared a million times
for whoever thought you should
we’ll never forget to remember
that brute with muscled arms
hammering death into your innocent brain
who wears the emblem of Pretoria

How it hurts
to know he’s our murderer
and conqueror of the unarmed
we’ve seized this time
murderers to become prisoners
thus end the class armed struggle of the oppressed.

 

WALVIS BAY

Chimneys puffing smoke up
soot parachuting
fishing vessels waltzing at a few knots
bringing sardines or is it snoek season?
Here at the jetty
boats with twelve-men crew
off-loading forty tons of catch
factory hands at work
for it’s overtime tonight
if only we had our right
with no equal pay at the bay
yet here we shall stay
fighting to keep them away
pirates of the day.

 

A FLOWER

Ever walked that footpath
   to my village
between that communal well
   and your uncle’s homestead?
If next you come
   not by flying machine

but walking in single file
   with your chum and scum
from the city…
   just don’t walk by
bus stop

Put a flower on my grave
   for I died like a brave
for your salary so high
   which you receive with no sigh
I’d freed you
   And lest you forget the brave

there on my grave
   just a flower-child
onto my eternal bed
   where I rest but not yet dead
just a flower lad.

 

NAMIBIAN CHILD

Mother is caressingly breast-feeding
Father is courageously enemy-fighting
both aren’t  happy with colonial breadcrumbs
from the table where the enemy plans bombs
to be dropped on civilians for early tombs

Mother is caressingly breast-feeding
Father is proudly baby-sitting
both are jointly enemy-fighting
the submachine-gun is handled by many a hand
no more enemy’ copter finds somewhere to land

Mother is no longer breast-feeding
Father is no longer baby-sitting
grown up- the child refuses colonial breadcrumbs
from the table where her future is shortened by bombs
decides to add one more weapon to the family’s armoury

Since Mother is no longer breast-feeding
since Father is no longer baby-sitting
’cause the child is now enemy-fighting
They’ve all said to hell with colonial breadcrumbs!
There’s one more weapon in the family’s armoury
all patriots should unquestionably liberate the country.

 

FREEDOM IS NOT ON SALE

If happiness is a purchasable commodity
I’ll purchase it daily for all in this country
poor as I am – I’ll sweat for a political salary
poor as I am – I’ll ideologically beg for my country
just to purchase happiness if it is a commodity

If liberty is a purchasable commodity
The people will purchase it daily for this country
poor as they are – they’ll sweat for an ideological victory
poor as they are-they’ll comradely beg from many a country
just to purchase genuine liberty if it is a commodity

Since genuine independence is incredibly weighty
the politically able-bodied are all for this country
pulling the colonial yoke courageously out of the way
for happiness to flow from the fountain of liberty
if life it costs –we’re victoriously all bloody
and stained by the enemy soldiers so blood-thirsty.

 

A COMRADE’S FUNERAL

Blue, red and green our flag stirs
every assembled heart the feeling of loss spears
anger has not gathered us here to shed vain tears
we’re flexing our muscle that Pretoria fears
our resolve pierces the enemy like burning spears

Blue, red and green our flag stirs
to every assembled heart the death appears
the covert work of cowardly agents paid for years
now let the enemy hear the warning for many ears
we’re determined to fight on for many years

Blue, red and green our flag stirs
To every assembled parent’s heart it naturally appears
We’re unleashing lightning across the land with many spears
From the battlefield, jail and still the enemy fears
True, we’re marching bravely with and without the spears.

 

BATTLE ECHO

When death surprises us in the night
hand-grenade comfortably in our hand
submachine-gun ready for our land
then a moment of man-made lightning is at hand

A speedy thought belonging to our strong hand
guiding us expertly through enemy band
sailing forth in to the embattled land
death surprises not the battle-tested hand

Firmly we shall always stand
firing accurately with one big bang
wounding, crippling, killing enemy gang
for the inevitable return to our beloved land.

 

COLONIAL SYCOPHANT

Pretoria’s home-made political brand
We are not surprised why you receive many a Rand
for you have never had an admirable political stand
on many fundamental issues we understand
you have always built neo-colonial castles in the sand
since that has always been your trend
disputing whatever we collectively recommend
there is doubtlessly little room to amend
and come back to the people’s revolutionary stand
millions on the globe you already offend
by being shamelessly on Pretoria’s suicidal strand
the world knows you still want to pretend
but the truth remains you were bought for many a Rand.

 

DESERT SANDWICH

The gods must have created my land with a purpose
to give colonial conquerors a fatal dose
if along the Skeleton Coast they dared to pose
for a portrait or grow a multicoloured rose
here they died of thirst or bled through the nose
thus, just make an attempt and we’ll ceaselessly oppose

The gods must have created my land with a purpose
to leave me with my less-demanding spouse
her vase empty without a yellow or red rose
yet when the rains come our soil gets a dose
from Mother Nature there’s more than a rose
for she’ll abundantly expose

The gods must have created my land with a purpose
when hunting I always carefully chose
my arrow smeared with a deadly dose
to kill a selected animal never to arouse
suspicion amongst those as elders pose
protectingly what the gods created with a purpose.

 

THE MIGHTY RAIN

First it drizzles tenderly on your skin
Having stopped frightening little children
With lightning crisscrossing the African sky
And thunder roaring all over the village heaven
Rains falls whenever it is truly welcome

First it drizzles tenderly on your skin
Inspecting the terrain systematically with ease
When it loves the area it then decides
To just pour, first slowly and then you know
The gods of our people have really remembered us

First it drizzles tenderly on your skin
And then you are suddenly soaked all over
Having a free bath with purified water from above
Somewhere, somehow there is undoubtedly love
Rain, come o… mighty rain fall in our village now.

 

PRESENCE

I’ve been weaving words into daily prayer
searching for a life time for my companion
decades it must have lasted for my union
traveling near and far in this dominion
looking everywhere for my given cushion

I’ve been weaving words into daily prayer
swimming  through many oceans of thought
ascending a range of towering mountains
descending the frightening depth of this earth
Where are you child of my heart’s desire?

I’ve been weaving words into daily prayer
when it was almost towards the noon of life
someone appeared there far on the horizon
for whom I knitted words into a warm garment
to be worn everyday during winter’s cold.

 

THE NAMIB DESERT

Dust of time covers not our memorable past
As seabirds sit on the wrecked ship’s mast
Since our rich country is in world history’s cast
Deep-sea trawlers from afar are so hugely fast
Dwindling fish stock not to a foreigner entrust

Dust of time covers not our memorable past
As seabirds beautifully parade during a fly-fast
Showing the globe that we are still history’s cast
As the world’s oldest desert we have a huge task
Survey dwindling fish stock or elephant’s tusk.

Dust of time covers not our memorable past
As seabirds feast from a fisherman’s cast
To reckon with, we are still a global fact
Here we deal with nature’s huge harvest
Survey fish stock or huge elephant’s tusk.

 

I AM AFRICA

Last born of an ageing Mother Africa
            spent much time in a political incubator
some hundred years says a calculator
            People’s exploited existence quite a factor
went through nursery school as a young orator
            noticed as political leaders went through the grill
leaders refused to take the bitter colonial pill
            some existence in exile they reluctantly chose
as thousands say colonial rule they bravely oppose
          total independence they unanimously propose
I am Africa’s last born child in unison they announce.

 

WELDING MONUMENTS

I am welding words into a more durable monument
Carving wood into much beauty without torment
Am I Africa’s awakening child for the moment?
Pushed into the back pages of this rich continent?

I am welding words into a more durable monument
Making sure that what I say has substantive content
Am I dreaming about global shopping at the moment?
Drilled for more oil without selling out the continent?

I am welding words into a more durable monument
Sculpturing could make the required political statement
Am I asking too much for the dying child this moment?
Blood has profusely polluted the waters of this continent.

18 December 2006

 

VIRGIN PAGE

We constantly turn to that hidden virgin page
During this moment’s explosive global rage
For we find ourselves enclosed in an iron cage
Trying to dance on that consistently moving stage
Its global warming and there’s no easy escape

We constantly turn to that hidden virgin page
Rich nations have brought about this rage
Encircling the poor nations in an iron cage
Yet knowing we shall certainly not exist this stage
For there is no riche nations’ paid escape into space

We constantly turn to that hidden virgin page
During today’s much spoken-about world rage
No more talk about the globe being just a stage
We must free ourselves from a man-made cage
To live peacefully in our God-created space.

Site Map
Gulliver: