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18 Mar 2016 00:00
Drips the foundation on my face down my collar bone;
This walk is no longer fun or graceful.
We have been circling parts of Namaqualand for over twenty minutes
Trying to locate the start of the mountain
Or the entry point of it,
Every entrance (we see) is fenced,
The dogs bark at the sight of our footsteps,
The dogs want to jump the fence;
The dogs look on defence,
I feel on defence,
I feel ready for a fight,
Guarded against a fight I do not yet see
But quickly foresee trouble
When the old white lady in her pyjamas, turns my back with her Afrikaans
And says you are on private property…
I question why I understand what she has said
And the mountain she calls private
“You can’t go up the mountain, without going past my property”
I ask if she owns the mountain
And she says she owns this land:
I think she is implying she built the mountain,
Erected it stone by stone,
Imagined its existence before her birth.
I think she is telling me that
They own the mountains too.
And I swear
I am not making it about race, it’s not personal,
It’s just her mountain in
It’s just private poverty.
In the way your thoughts are private poverty.
In the way your freedom is private property.
In the way your obsessive partner thinks that you are his/her private poverty/
In the way your body is private
In the way private property was lynched and sold back in the day.
It’s not personal, this private property thing
It just doesn’t not belong to you.
It was not built (by your ancestors) for you,
You are not allowed in it
You are not allowed on it
Unless you are the maid or nanny or garden boy or adopted
Or a cockroach bumping into things when the lights have been switched off
My friends (upon hearing this story) joke
That heaven will be private property too
So I’m guessing you won’t be able to go to heaven
Unless you are a servant of God,
And of course, we are people who cannot go anywhere
Or inherit anything unless we embody roles of servitude.
And yet our forefathers built
We do not own or live on
As an inherit aspect of your settling, and our consequential migration
This current native land act tells us to
Move if we can’t afford it
Move if the neighbourhood is hostile
Move, because our guests are too loud
Move, because the neighbours have been complaining
Move, because the three dogs on a leash need more space on the pavement
Move, because I will bump you out of the way because I do not see colour
Move, the last two syllables of your name off your ID, so I can swallow who you are
Move your child to another school, ours is full (we have reached the quota for….
Move, if you did not make a
reservation, there aren’t any more tables at this restaurant
(No! those ones are reserved)
Move, if you do not get along with the Landlord
The self-appointed Lords of this land
Are asking of you to move
To become scraps
To become palatable
To keep explaining
To be the explanation
To be the scapegoat
To be the actual goat
To be the slaughter house and the sacrifice,
But just not talk about the blood spill.
To be the apology
To be the excuse
To be the puppet, and the strings, and the applause, and the stage sweeper
In this native land act
We are the spectacle
The pun intended
The poetic visuals for the township tour
Our bodies are now the houses being demolished
Our throats bulldozed
Our words are the rubble
Our belongings no longer
As we are yanked from our skin
Dodging assassination attempts that look like
Picnics and selfies with the law
And yoga poses during public
Telling us our movements do not matter
Unless we are moving out of the way
Or moving to make way
Or moving out
Or moving in together to squat like sardines in tin metal squares they call houses.
And unless your movement is about Mandela
It does not matter
So move it elsewhere
Just not up the mountain,
Because the mountain is for their banners
And anyway, you, you can’t go up the mountain
Apparently, it does not belong to you
Like everything else around here.
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