Courage – it takes more

It takes more than breath to be alive
more than blood to find your line
more than a hand to throw a stone;
 
it takes a heart, a heart
beaten into bricks and built into a house
a house where humanity finds a home.
 
The house is in the street and the
street lies on the land, a land of
corpses and speeches, a land of
 
lies. The lies we tell to keep
the best for our own – family country god
whatever we imagine is our home.
 
The best of us are rivers who give themselves to oceans,
rivers who throw themselves over cliffs into oceans
rivers who never look back never regret what they’ve given
and the more they give the more flows out -
 
Will you won’t you will you won’t you walk behind Mandela -
follow his feet along Justice street? Won’t you will you 
beat your heart into a home for all humanity?
 
He was not alone - a million hands held him up
colossus – and there is no house
without mortar no wall without foundation 
no Mandela without Mbeki Sisulu Dadoo
no Biko without Ngoyi without Sobukwe, without Goldberg
no Fisher without Slovo without First;
and will you walk behind them, and shout freedom
through your thirst, spend your breath for justice
to prison or to death?
 
It takes more heart than you think you have
but you are a river and
heroes are heroes because we make them heroes
motho ke motho ka batho babang
river, ocean falling, falling into the sun -
and when languages are forgotten
and our day of life is done
only when we stand together
can we say that we have won
one heart one love
one.
 
 

(commissioned by Commonwealth for Commonwealth Observance Day 2014)


unpublished poem, © Phillippa Yaa de Villiers 20014, used by permission of the author

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Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

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1The River

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2What the dead say

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3Wanting

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4Stolen Rivers

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5Muse

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6Jozi parks

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7Problem child

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8Don’t mention the war

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9Tissue paper

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10Origin

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11Bones

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12The girl behind the curtains

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13Wisdom

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14Red apples

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15The rain children

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16Tea for Thabo

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18Horse

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19Footsteps of oppressors

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20Courage - it takes more

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22Going down there

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23Breastsummer

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24Biscuit

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25Kimberley pride

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26Amputee

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27Flying backwards

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28Tongue

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30The quiet conversation

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31Commonwealth Love

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32Love

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33Anthem

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