In my corner of the continent (Zimbabwe), things can get so hectic sometimes that one ends up losing sense of time – you are tottering around grim faced thinking deeply about surviving the today (bread queue, fuel queue, money queue) and you get a nudge – its tomorrow reminding you that hey I am here come on get out of the past and ‘ live’ in me also before you fall into a burst sewer. This is where for me music has a special place, as a reminder of other spirit elevating moments of life if politics has got you too pinned down to remember dates clearly.
I remember bonus time, and the thirteenth cheque, once when I was still employed – yuwi! This windfall usually came in the month of November, and oh how happy we would be to pay off debts we had accrued over the year, and also buy new fancy clothes for family that they would dance in come Christmas day. Not to be outdone, this was the month that most clever musicians released new music albums, and one would truly know that – YO! – Christmas was around the corner…
Ode to Christmas
The gramophone was positioned
Under the marula tree
In front of the red brick house
And, one two three
They all trooped out.
Mama in Nike sneakers
And a blue evening dress
That flashed bright strobes of light
As it caught the afternoon sun
A wicket slit on its side.
Papa is brand new
Bright orange miner’s helmet
A Spiderman t-shirt
And bell bottoms that teased the puppy.
Then next was son
In full khakhi school uniform
And O how they danced that day
They wildly swung their arms
As feet gone mad harassed the dust
And they all fervently cried out one word
Where Will They Be On Xmas day?
As our children
stare wide eyed
at glass cases of sweets
that their poor fathers
can no longer afford to buy for them
to sweeten their Xmas days –
where will the shefs* be on that day?
As mothers patch old clothes
that their children can cover their buttocks
and their husbands their crotches
between their perforated trouser legs
As cockroaches threaten mutiny
inside bare cupboards
faced by the beautiful face of hunger
in houses where once voices laughed
on sunny Xmas days –
where will the shefs be on that day
with their looted public funds?
*shef – party big shots
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