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The Shackled by Deena Padayachee

Deena Padayachee | Dec 16th, 2020 | poetry | No Comments

Poem

I remember so many resistance zealots from the era
of the Apartheid terror
and I look at them now.
There is an aura of smugness among many of them.
A haughtiness.
They are part of an inner circle, an exclusive club,
and they know the rules.

They were different back then.
They were full of fire and fury;
full of heroic altruism;
they were happy to risk their skins, their careers,
even their families, for their country.
Many were poor but they were patriots.

Now they kow-tow.
They rationalise what the rulers do,
They make excuses, they lie, even to themselves.
They know the rules, and they bend the knee.
Their tones are reverential.
What passes for their voices are low.
They trample each other in their haste to obey.
They bring smiles and smirks to the faces of the new ubermenschen.

They are terrified of being cast out,
Of losing their plum positions.
They love the influence they have,
the connections,
the power, the money.

Their patriotism no longer exists.
It has been bought.
They have become whores.

The poor and the destitute and the shack dwellers cry out
but their voices are unheard.
The teachers do at times share lrelevant information but many have lost their zeal.
The medical people in the public service are over-worked
and some could be kinder.
The lawyers could be more fervent about human rights and be less materialistic,
The academics wallow in their ‘superiority’
and their jargon,
as they toy with their lab rats.
Some could not care less about those whom they teach,
For them it is all about how much they publish,
How many degrees they can accumulate..
And so it goes on…

Many journalists are shackled to their owners, biased, prejudiced and unbalanced, their censored ‘news’ calculated to shrink the mind.

Now many are obsequious sycophants,
broken in many ways
as they savour their obscene wealth, their power and their positions
in a country which remains, in many ways, still conquered.

Poet Bio

Dr Padayachee published a book of poems, A Voice from the Cauldron in April 1987.
His poems have been published in South Africa (New Coin), Australia (Skive), the UK the USA and India (Glomag).
The English Academy of Southern Africa had awarded him the Olive Schreiner Prize in 1994 for his book of short stories.
In 1991 the Congress of South African Writers awarded the author its first Nadine Gordimer prize for a short story.

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