South Africans mark Heritage Day as a public holiday on 24 September to celebrate their cultures and the diversity. In this uplifting poem, Lebohang Liepollo Pheko rejoices at her identity as an African – with roots stretching all the way from the Cape to Cairo.
Africa, Beautiful and Majestic
I dream of my family from Cape to Cairo
From the East to the West I dream of Rain and Sunshine round the year
I dream of snow capped mountains of Lesotho Africa, With your green lustre
I dream of boubous and chitenges and seshoeshoes and kaftans Africa,
With vigour and serenity, a dignity unequalled
I dream of pyramids and of the smoke that thunders “Mosiu ea tunya ”-whom strangers called Victoria Falls
Africa I dream of bathing in your oceans and reveling in your waves as we traverse the Atlantic and the Pacific
I dream of Timbuktu and its ancient wisdom which I long to imbibe and of the ancient Zimbabwe ruins...
and the kingdoms of Tombuka, Dahomey, Ashanti and Mapangubwe,
Africa, robbed and left desolate, yet richly blessed, most splendid and utterly tenacious
I dream of your glory and I dream of those who fought for you valiantly, of Bambatha and Nzinga and Saroinie and Shaka and Kemati and Nehanda
Africa who calls to those who left, her children scattered around the world
From Lagos to Dakar, from Lusaka to Cotonou, from Rabat to Kinshasa, from Khartoum to Kampala
Africa calls out for her children.
You cry out to them in the languages close to heaven of Umbundu, Kinyrwanda, Swahili, Ibo, Yoruba, Sotho, Lingala, Venda, Wolof, Bambara, Kanuri ,Tshiluba, Amharic, Fula, Nyanja, Bemba, Tonga, Oromo
Let no one come between Africa and her beloved offspring
Not wars or rumours of war.
Not calamities real or manufactured by those who stole so many children from her
Not men and women who though in power today who will pass like dust into history
Africa I dream of egussi soup and chebe chebe, of Ntisima and okra stew, of plantain and mohudu , of nyama choma and bere bere, of ndizi and jollof
Africa, Your Children scattered all over the World are crying for you as you weep for them.
Weep no more my love, weep no more… Africa, You are simply mine, Africa.
Africa I dream of you, of running on your hills and walking through your markets.
I dream of drinking chai and mageu and eucalyptus juice as the sun kisses my face
Africa my love a great poet said, You are my beginning, Africa you will be my ending
Yes you are my beginning and will be my only ending!
* Lebohang Liepollo Pheko is Senior Research Fellow, The Trade Collective, Managing Director - Four Rivers Trading, Steering Member - South African Women in Dialogue [SAWID] and Board Member and Africa Regional Coordinator - International Network on Migration and Development.
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