Thoughts from a Traveler

Thoughts from a Traveler



And for the first time I saw a lion
The Americans always asked me about them
I’d say I didn’t come from a place with roaming animals
No one actually lives with lions
They didn’t believe me
And for the first time I saw a lion
The lion saw me back
We stared at each other for three seconds
My eyes filled with fear
Hers with annoyance
She felt as I felt
We both had others telling us about us
For the first time I saw a lion
And the lion saw me back



He was sad
Or angry
He was only five, I swear
He is five
He is five with the world on his shoulders
He is five with five mouths to feed
He is five but he graces the walls of hundreds
Hundreds of strangers know of him
Remember his stern face
An old face he had, that five year old

He was a strong little man
He looked like a warrior
He looked like a veteran
That five year old breathed war
And breathed out situation
For situation put him there
In that hot sun
Surrounded by strangers
Strangers who will remember
Remember his stern face
An old face he had, that five year old

I clapped for him
I cheered for him
I feared for him
He was my blood
He was my brother
For situation put me here and put him there
Maybe he is happy
Maybe he loves every second of it
I cannot be certain
For he had a stern face
I cannot and shall not forget
I shall
Remember his stern face
An old face he had, that five year old



They say they are your liberators
They come with a god
And their whiteness blinds you to the fact that
You are gods in yourselves
You command the greatest continent on Earth
But you let them in
You welcomed their whiteness
You welcomed it all with open arms
Because that’s what rich men do
Rich men with not a care in the world
And now where is your richness?
Your richness will be buried with the Queen
Your richness will fuel whiteness
For centuries to come you will be the joke
For centuries to come you will lose your godliness
You commanded the greatest continent on Earth
But today,
You live off scraps
You beg whiteness for sustenance
Do you not know that you are gods?
Do you not know the power you wield?
Do you not know your blackness is god?
How can you be blind to this?
Take it back
Take it back
I beg of you to take it back



If I was rich and white in Cape Town
If I had a million dollar house by the beach
If I didn’t have to lay my own bed
Or sweep my own floors
Would I too deny apartheid?



Born to suffer
Lord to none
Accustomed to pain
Consumed by all
Kings nonetheless



They said I was a tourist on my own land
They said I didn’t actually belong here
I guess they too have been white-washed
I mean, brainwashed
Either way, they kicked me out
I don’t belong on my own land
I believed them
I have been white-washed
I mean, brainwashed.



Tits out, belly out
I strutted into the neighborhood
Where women don’t even walk outside at night
Nobody had to tell me to drape myself



If you want to hear angels sing,
While they hold on to a burning cigarette
Right outside Mandela’s home,
Go to South Africa



I do not know where I found the audacity to criticize that child and everyone responsible for him.

I do not know why I thought I had the right to feel disgusted.

I swear, the American in me came out that day.

During our visit to South Africa, my greatest test came when the rest of the group and I were blessed with a street performance of Zulu war dances.

There were three children and an older boy all dressed up from head to toe in Zulu attire.

My first instinct was to be intrigued. This was a once in a life time performance; never again will I be lucky enough to see this, under the scorching sun, surrounded by friends.

And then I heard his head hit the pavement and saw his facial expressions remain unchanged by the blow.

The American in me came out and I wanted to yell out to the manager to end the show and take the children home to their beds surrounded by love, where they should be. That is where they should be, isn’t it?

Who the hell am I to assume this?

Who the hell am I to overlook the fact that when situation demands a child under ten to perform in the scorching sun for tourists from America, the child performs with no complaints?

Who the hell am I to forget my own situation? Who the hell am I to forget that a lottery landed me in America and a lottery is keeping me here?

I have never felt so American and disconnected from Africa than I did that hot afternoon in front of Chez Alina in Soweto.

Home is where the heart is so why did my heart hurt?

Is Africa no longer my home?

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