Africa, My Africa - what happened to ubuntu

Prize-winning poet Koleka Putuma.

Prize-winning poet Koleka Putuma.

After the success of her poem Water, PEN SA Student Prize winner for 2016 Koleka Putuma pens a new poem Africa, My Africa - a poem she calls Water’s Grandmother (who should be taken with a pinch of salt).

Africa, My Africa

Wo-yina-Mah Afrika

Woyina Mah Afrika

We the born frees

We are the future of this country

We must fight to unite

Fight for the freedom uTata Rolihlala fought for

Fight for the Rainbow Nation he prayed for

Went to prison for

We must not destroy the Fruits of the TRC

We must love our fellow refugee native Africans

We must forgive

Even when they teargas you

Especially when they teargas you


Am not the colour of my skin

I am human

When I step into a restaurant and the waiter does not serve me

I am not the color of my skin

She is just busy

We must tip the waiter. We must tip the waiter.

I am a human being before I am black or a woman

I write in English as to communicate with you

As to communicate with my ancestors-abaphantsi

My ancestors who owned the land before colonisation

Whose statues I do not see erected here in stone

But it does not matter because they live forever in our hearts

In our bones

The same way yours live in our text books

This land

This Land

My Africa belongs to us all

My Africa is your Africa

Weh-Ma afrika

Elilizwe lokhokho bethu liyakhala lithi

What happened to Ubuntu?

What happened to Ubuntu?

Who even is Uhuru?

If our fellow brothers and sisters

Asian/white/or African are divided by privilege

What even is privilege in the face of democracy?

Are you not free, why do you want privilege?

Privilege cannot divide us if Love can unite and ignite us

I think this is what uTata Ubantu Biko meant when he sung Senzeni na

Oh Nkosi,  Nkosi woJan Van Riebeck sikikele

Umhlaba wokoko bethu

Dankie Jan Van Riebeck for Jesus and For English

God bless you youth of 1976

For I know why the caged bird sings

Kawula-makamendela-Not yet Uhuru.

Oh youth of 2015, you aint got nothing on the Youth of 76

Until you have bled and and been killed live by the policeman

And been featured in your very own sarafina

You know nothing of revolution

Oh we ma

Children of Africa

Daughters of the soil

Sons of the mother land

Why are you making Rhodes fall

Because without oom Cecil there would be no UCT

You are all ungrateful!

Why are you burning paintings?

When the 76-tiens fought so we could have an education

Where is your gratitude for democracy?

Why do you piss on the freedom uTata uMadiba fought for?

The constitution he fought for

Who cares if you live in a shack and have no accommodation at UCT?

Who cares if Racism still breathes and lives in the mother city?

Who cares if they teach you in Afrikaaans?

Who cares if Cecil falls or rises?

Who cares if there are more shebeens and churches than there are museums about black people

Who cares if Max Price has a comfortable salary

And doesn’t not address police brutality

Who cares if black bodies exist on the margins?


Your life matters

My life matters

We are all equal

This Land

Belongs to all of us

Oh Mandela Tata

May your spirit of ubuntu come upon those who invite it

And those who believed and believe in you

Aluta continua

Aluta Continua

We are all Africans

Children of the soil

Children of Africa

Transcend the chains of Apartheid

Transcend the after math of colonisation

Transcend the fact that you live in the slums/township

At least you have a roof over your head (even if it leaks in the winter)

Stop being ungrateful

Transcend your blackness


Transcend your white bread and rama and sugar water diet


Transcend The Toilet in your backyard



Your poverty mentality

Democracy is yours (if you will take it)

If you do not change mntomnyama

Democracy will never happen for you

Transcend the false promises made by the ANC

It’s not the Government’s fault your life is backward

Take responsibility for your destiny-mntomnyama

Oh child of Africa raised in a shebeen with no matric

Transcend your circumstance

You are not where you come from

Oh mama of Africa

Who took out a loan to pay for her child’s tertiary education?

Transcend your debt

You are a strong black woman

You can pay it off-it will take your entire lifetime

But you are a strong black woman:  Imbokodo.

Oh Fathers of Africa

Why are you all

Absent and rapists

Oh men of Africa we fear you

We do not know you

Your sons impregnate our young girls

Our girls with bright tomorrows

Now carry babies on their backs

Their bright tomorrows now dark with HIV

Oh Africa

Our children are dying

Imbi lendawo, ndiyisaba lendawo imbi lendawo

Oh child of slavery

[Yoh—-I mean Africa]

Child of Africa

Slavery does not define you

You are not the land they took from you

Even if your are landless

You have your blackness

Sleep on your blackness

Eat your blackness

Live off your blackness

Pay rent with your blackness

Even if you don’t have land you are still a child of the soil

Transcend your landlessness

Transcend your colonisation

You are a reflection of me as I of you

Your suburb is my township

Your riches are my poverty

Your wealth is my struggle

My Shackles are your freedom

Peace ma-afrika

Peace not war ma afrika

Madiba is turning in his grave

This is not the country he saw for us

Oh Africa, my Africa

Make us one

Oh Africa My Africa

Bless your children

Who are all one under the sun

This land belongs to us all

Even if only some own and benefit from it



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