South Africa

Remembering Winnie

her/story

her/story

A poem by MBALI VILAKAZI.

This poem makes no apologies.

  • It will not explain.
  • There is nothing complex about this poem.
  • There are no similes. Nothing is like anything else. It is simply what it is.
  • You will not be able to read it any other way. You will not be able to bring your own reading to it. It will resist you.
  • This poem responds.
  • This one does not ask for your permission.
  • The work of human hands:
  • it will speak its truth
  • it will step on toes
  • It will be important. Legendary. It will take up space. It will be slapped
  • down. And kicked. And kicked. And kicked. For not knowing its place.
  • This poem does not know its place.
  • It kicks back.
  • This poem will fight you.
  • This poem is a one woman army. It is conflict and close contact. Blood is involved. A 21 gun salute. This poem is the last man standing.
  • This poem will do what it has to do.
  • You will probably discard this poem. You will distance yourself from it.
  • This is to be expected. Who can take such a risk, you say.
  • This poem will not be a footnote, though. It can’t be sidelined.
  • This poem is not a proxy. It can stand alone. It stands alone.
  • It stands out.

All of the grace: The beauty, the intelligence, the urgency.

The power: It parts the crowd in any room. It commands respect.

As it should.

  • This one is what dreams are made of.

You will not silence it.

Even when you will not protect it.

You will not shatter it.

Even when you will not protect it.

  • It has a mind of its own. It has a voice. It speaks. It will not be intimidated
  • by you.
  • The poem will suffer
  • The poem will sacrifice
  • The poem will sing

This poem is heartbroken.

It cares. It will seek you, find you, embrace you. Tell you something

you will never forget. It will love you. You cannot fake love and generosity

of spirit.

It will love you.

The compassion that comes with understanding we’re all a little broken.

Our mothers with their stories untold.

Nomzamo, Mother of Daughters

Mother of the Nation

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mother of us All.

This poem will end on its own terms.

The poem will go its own way —

Words like footprints in the sand of a quietened passion

that weakens the light of its own torchbearers. DM

Photo: Messages are written on the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela tribute wall after its unveiling outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg, South Africa 09 April 2018. EPA-EFE/STR

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