My tongue has been cut
by teachings that taught me silence as the elderly speak.
Teachings that taught me to observe their words
like sermons preached on the altar,
holding my tongue as the sacrificial piece.
They cut my tongue,
But perhaps that’s because theirs were cut too.
A tradition like circumcision
Initiated by masters bearing sermon coated knives in their mouths.
Cutting my great-grandfather’s tongue,
cutting my grandfather’s tongue
and on and on a tradition was born,
now my tongue is gone.
We were taught that silence is golden
but in our silence,
we gave away our gold, our diamonds and our lands,
we gave away our mothers, our brothers and sisters.
So what exactly does my golden silence procure me?
If it isn’t death and years trying to cut more tongues.
So elders, please forgive me if my tone is disrespectful,
but I’ve learnt to grow a new tongue
and break the gold that is my silence.
Perhaps now, I can benefit from what little gold I have left.
Benjamin is a Congolese born poet, a biotechnology student at the University of Johannesburg and a member of UJ’s poetry arts academy.