Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

THE MUSEUMS

For Sizwe Vilakazi

 

ROBBEN ISLAND, CAPE TOWN

 

Except when the Atlantic fog surprises,

from high ground in the city the island

is present like a leviathan,

its lights at night like white phosphorous,

a place of banishment since the first ships,

among seals and penguins.

 

DISTRICT SIX, CAPE TOWN

 

Razing its streets, clearing this cosmopolis

of Asians, atheists, Blacks, booksellers,

Buddhists, Christians, Coloureds, cooks, Hindus, Jews,

musicians, Muslims, seafarers, Whites,

this is what it was all about – the racial

myths, the scorn, the humiliation,

the torture, the killings – to justify

the theft of property.

 

APARTHEID, FREEDOM PARK, JOHANNESBURG

 

Beneath the Pillars of the Constitution,

in the gardens the weaver birds are knitting

their elaborate nests from grass and reeds

precariously over water.

 

Inside is the Mercedes workers hand built

for Mandela, and a BAE designed

troop-carrying Casspir, mine and bullet proof,

to patrol the townships.

 

HECTOR PIETERSON, ORLANDO WEST, SOWETO

 

When the school children took to the dirt streets

in their uniforms and walked as one

towards the dogs and the guns and the police,

did each of their rulers secretly know

they were finished – not then or that year

but in time however many they maimed,

and killed and tortured in front of cameras –

yet kept it to themselves? Did they believe

really that righteous anger would, could

be suppressed forever?

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
share
3 Responses
  • Alan Horne
    June 2, 2019

    That’s a great alphabetical list in the bit about District Six. I didn’t know about Hector Pieterson, I see he was 13 when he was shot.

  • David Selzer
    June 3, 2019

    Wikipedia has Hector a couple of months short of his 13th birthday – so Year 8, old Second Year. Ironically, their father felt that Antoinette and Hector would fare better with Europeanised names.

  • Dave Williams
    June 12, 2019

    This is a powerful piece – the reference to seals,penguins and Weaver birds a fleeting reminder of the beauty of this violent land. As you say all done to justify the theft of property. I like the ‘white phosphorous’ reference- adds to the sense of violence and danger.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *