Raising Bastards by Mphutlane wa Bofelo

Mphutlane wa Bofelo | November 1st, 2013 | poetry | No Comments


our teachers and priests
scouts & the best
among our parents
played their role
to teach our children
relevant songs & appropriate chants
specific gestures & particular looks
special faces
for specific occasions
how to stand
in salute of the flag or the officers
how to pose for
inspectors & government ministers
& which postures are
in order for national anthem
our pedagogues
& curriculum developers
were very meticulous
about which events
to leave out
due to space
constraints in textbooks
the choice of repertoire
& pitch of nursery rhymes
which intonation
what lyrics
to strike off
the song-books
how to tell
the sound of music
from primitive sound
& how to discern
the aesthetic from the anaesthetic
after all this
smart & hard-work
such monumental
civilizational achievements
what is it with our boys and girls?
see how they trade
the accomplished poise
for base moves
& ditch the courtly suit & regal tie
for saggy denims & baggy golf-shirts
what an insult to such a royal sport?
what’s wrong with our children really?

first they wanted
too much clarity
on matters as complex
as the distinction
between a freedom fighter
& a terrorist…
should they even
have raised
such a stupid
question as when
does conscience
call for one
to break the ranks
at the time
when their country
needed them the most
at the borders
(or at least in the laboratories)

all our children needed to do
was to raise high the flag
sing the wonderful songs
we spent so much money & time + energies
teaching them at home
on radio & in homebrewed movies
at school & in the military
the church & our patriotic media playing their role too…
but now our children have the cheek
to ask too many questions
as irrelevant as
the price of war(tanks)
& waffle a lot of gobbledygook
like bread & butter before bombs & bullets
don’t these kids know?
a true nation
defends its bread & butter?
help us o lord!
our kids ask questions about
the food we are eating
we were grateful
to our parents
(and the state & the cooperates)
we licked our fingers
after we ate the food
our kids raise silly queries
rather than appreciate
they have three meals a day
(and some children don’t)
they grumble about
what grain of maize
which stock of chicken
& who owns the fishes in the sea

what kind of audacity is this?
running around
with a can of paint
invading public walls
with funny scribbles
tearing our eardrums
with senseless jabbering

now the bastards
want to stand against the gods
they are writing
against the canon
or my god!
our children
are writing outside the canon
hell no!
this venomous
verbose is neither writing nor rewriting
even un-writing
would be better
we would write back in combat
these rebels write on the hearts
& read from the head
the street & the open
microphone is their publishing space
now they are killing the free market
they are doing away with the middle-man
selling on car-boots and soldier bags
delivering mouth-to-ear
poet-to-the people

prophet to the masses


Poet Bio

Mphutlane wa Bofelo is a prolific essayist, poet and activist.

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