People with No Land
The angle that I initially wanted to explore through poetry, was the similarities between the African American and the Black South African experience as both people without land. For the African American the land loss is caused displacement. The process of leaving your birthplace and being stripped of your rights while being thrown onto familiar land is utterly alienating. There was never a safe space. Too many blacks in one area is seen as a social and economic threat. Just a sprinkling of blacks around a county makes them more likely to be a target. There is no place to call your own. How does that effect your psyche and your sense of self?
The happenings were similar for Black South Africans the rapid encroachment on formerly Zulu or Khoisan land, combined with the forced removals and assimilations, people were watching what they knew to belong to them as their country, their identity drift away from reach right before their eyes. There is a special connection one has with the earth. if one were to play the oppression Olympics, at least it is nice to be oppressed on familiar soil than abroad. Objectively the treatment of Black south Africans was awful and being treated as a 2nd class citizen on your own turf. How does that affect one’s self-image? It is important to note that South Africa is not the gray nation, consisting of only black and white but the Rainbow nation. There are other ethnicities in the mixed, how do you reclaim your since of pride without approaching nationalism? Unfortunately, due to technological complications the work does not get to truly explore these themes and remains somewhat superficial.
We are all walkers
Before we could run, we walked
Before we could fly, we walked
For millennia we have traversed plains, trekked mountains, and wandered desserts
We are all walkers
We are all survivors
In creating this piece, I really wanted to frame it around the experience at the apartheid museum. A minute but major detail about the museum design, is that it carried you through time. You were able to get a taste of the progression of humanity by starting with looking at our first people. By saying we are all walkers, I want to the unite the readers in their mind to a time before we were aware of differences. We were a unit. Before we could run/fly signifies that before we could progress any more and really show off our personal skills or technological prowess, we had the same starting point
We are who we are because of others
I am because you are
I am your sister because you are my brother
Together we form a family
I am your student because you are my teacher
Together we learn
I am black because you are white
There is no together
Here, I thought t would be interesting to subvert the meaning and usage of Ubuntu. We all know it means that “We are people by way of other people.” And is generally used to discuss building up a community by recognizing the humanity in another person. That you can look at someone’s differences and realize that they complement and connect humanities. When it gets to the Black and White line, the mood changes. We are still recognizing differences but instead of viewing them as something to be celebrated, as a way of forming a solidarity community, it is used to divide and to create a race-based chasm. Setting up the floor for what looks to be an irreparable chasm
And as the line is etched deeper and deeper so too become the scars,
And the bruises
And the abuses
Only by stealing my humanity have you been able to gain
But when all is said and done, can things ever be the same?
The line being etched more and more deeply is race based oppression. In South Africa and the United States, the tensions become more hostile and violence exacerbates over time. The scars, bruises, and abuses stand for the human rights violations that occurred in this time periods both known and unknown. In the video, is a picture of a bullet hole at Regina Mundi. The violence that occurred inside of Regina Mundi was so shocking as an onlooker. The church is supposed to be the one sacred place, and to violate that sanctity illustrates just how deep hatred can run.
In the line that includes “Stealing my humanity” was intended to sound transactional. The only reason these systems of oppression exist in the first class is for the bourgeoise to profit. Racism was created for economic profit. “It’s okay to enslave Blacks, they aren’t really human anyway.” “They are savages and heathens we must destroy their way of life to civilize them.” “We are turning these bums into good, productive workers.” Far too often when we think about these, we just think about the horrors of the treatment which is in and of itself bad. However, when you remind yourself that these atrocities were committed in the name of Rand or ownership of land it hits you how superficial this all is. The closing line of this Stanza addresses the question, can you every truly bounce back from this? Can one reclaim their identity after being subjugates as such?
Video (See Video page)
Is perfectly designed for you to lose yourself.
And for people with no land to call their own
There is no solitude
the only way to stop the ever-reaching creep of darkness,
And to keep the hope alight.
By creating a home
The opening lines of this stanza are meant to be contradictory. Chaos, utter disorder, is perfectly designed sounds like an oxymoron. But ultimately chaos is created. It’s not a stretch to say that situations are engineered to be chaotic for a few at the bottom and serene for those at the top. Especially for those without anything concrete to root one’s identity on. You can never find peace when you lack refuge from life’s storms. The only thing left for you to do is to create space. Create space to remember the past. Create space to enjoy music. Create space to speak your mind. Create space to get in touch with your spirituality. Create space for you. The poem ends with images of people creating their own spaces.
Insert a piece of her writing here
It was definitely a strange feeling
Felt welcomed, but not that comfortable
Felt as home, but not like home
In a familiar, but different environment
There was a familiarity, but not the kind I am used to
In a sense, I was like a sister to them, but as much of a stranger as well
Wanted to embrace them, but there was a barrier
Almost greeted them in our special language, but it was inexistent
Wanted to scream to them that I am like them, but am I really or?
Had immense joy, but could not share it with any native of the country or other tourists
Looking around the airport, faces on the ads on the wall looked so familiar and so like home, but the wall was way bigger than I am used to
People in the airport talked to me in a certain language, and HOW I WISH I COULD HAVE RESPONDED IN THAT EXACT LANGUAGE
I didn’t even know what language it was in the first place
I only caught one word that I knew its meaning, and however much small it sounds, it still left that tingly joy
Moved around shops in the airports, books about our continent, books by authors from our continent, how I’m not used to that
It was my first time being in another African country, other than my own
They were Africans like me, I was in the Motherland
But with so many similarities, came so many differences
Which broke my heart a bit
After a while, it became something to watch and admire from afar.
Hyacinthe continues: All my life while in Rwanda, South Africa was just another country in the world as much as Australia was or Mongolia was, with just the specialty that we were on the same continent. However, as I got to the United States, given the way they refer to Africa as one country, there is a certain bound I found myself developing and embrace towards fellow Africans and a big need to learn about other African countries than before. I guess this is why I assumed they would embrace me so big, and to them, I was just like any other tourist in their land.
MAPPING South Africa