Poem introduction

This poem is called 'Black River'. During a peak period of xenophobic violence across South Africa, on Friday 15th August 2008, around 7am, a Zimbabwean man in his early thirties, who I later learned was Adrian Nguni, was found hanging from a tree. He'd hung himself, along the Black River otherwise known as Liesbeek River in Observatory, Cape Town. It was an apparent suicide. Policemen cordoned off the site with yellow tape and one hour later we were still standing, they were standing, beneath this body visible to peak traffic on a busy street parallel to this river. And a few days before, in the local newspaper, I'd read about another floating body in that same river. Having performed this poem several times in honour of Adrian's life, and how we touched mine, fellow artist and singer Tina Schouw was inspired to write and record a song called 'Tell Them, Tell Them I Was Here'.

Black River

Black river followed me home
Between breaths, thoughts, sleep
Deep cut image of a silent brother 
Hanging from a tree
Three children in my back seat
So I sob quietly and drive by
Drive
Bye bye

Newspaper tells Black river stories
Two bodies, one week in August
Alone
One floating unknown
The other with a detailed note in his backpack
Telling them whom to send his body to
Back home
Somewhere in Zimbabwe
Take him
Home

Black rivers all over this country
All over the world I’m sure
Weeping, wailing just like me
In ways seldom heard
Hard to see
Unless you know 
Listening
What it really means
Listening to him, 
To her 
Listening
To me

Black river sings
Black river brings me
Sweet blood offerings
Till I can’t breathe
Like a child 
Almost forty
Yet still can’t believe
Can’t be
Can’t leave
Be
Leave    

 


unpublished poem, © Malika Ndlovu 2014, used by permission of the author

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Recordings

Malika Ndlovu

Malika Ndlovu Downloads

1A 7 Year Frame

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2A Woman's Path

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3And the Word was Women

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4Ash

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5At a Loss

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6At Home

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7Bath

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8Black River

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9born in africa but

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10Confirmation in Crimson

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11Dear Dad

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12Domestic Revolution

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13Dream Train

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14Full Circle

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15Grief

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16Guilt

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17Home

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18Instruments

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19Life Light of My Elders

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20Lydia in the Wind

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21Next Door

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22Spinal Secrets

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23Stay

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24Story Beads

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25Struggle to Surrender

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26The Invitation

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27This Morning is New

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28Truth is both Spirit and Flesh

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29Walk with Me

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30Well Wishing

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31Wings

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32Women Weaving

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