Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zimbabwe Sunset


Once upon a time there was Camelot.

Once upon a time there was Rhodesia.

I am looking through the wrong end of a telescope.
And there, far away,
In a country that no longer exists,
I see a group of young girls
Whose youth no longer exists.
We are teachers.
The children we teach are white…..of course.

We are sitting on the stoep
Drinking Sundowners.

Life is good in Rhodesia……
On the surface at least.
And the surface is where we live.

This Breadbasket of Africa
Is abundant in everything;
Sunshine, soil, rains, manpower,
And goodwill.
Yes, goodwill.

But even the name is an insult
Named after a white man,
Cecil John Rhodes.

Do we care about that?
For we are apolitical,
Careless, unimaginative
And wrapped up in ourselves.

Are we aloof?
The black men with whom we come into contact
Are friendly and so are we.
We laugh together
We joke together.
But we never eat together.

For they are servants.

Heady stuff for silly little white girls
From the lower middle class.

'Here in Rhodesia, Mum, I'm waited on hand and foot'.It is all so intoxicating.
The wide, wide African skies, the baobabs,
The chongololos, the flame trees, the kopjes.

And the possibilities of romance are thrilling;
Romance with a white man…….. of course.

So here we sit on the stoep
Drinking our Sundowners,
A handsome servant in a snow-white uniform
Hovering near.

But hey!

There's a young African standing in the dusty road,
Looking at us!

Could his name be Robert Mugabe?


Ginnie said...

One of the few reasons that I would like to be young again is so that I could do it all better. My(white and privileged) world was so turned in on itself that I never gave a thought to those who were not as lucky. Now we are paying for it.
I hope that we, here in the U.S., have the guts to elect a black president and that it will be the start of turning the tide.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Dear Ginnie,
I don't think we should blame ourselves too much. Youth is always thoughtless. As to a black President, I was equally in favour of a woman President. I don't think there will be true equality in our lifetime. But I'm with you about change, and I think Obama's middle name should carry some weight in the middle East.

RHD said...

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Anonymous said...

Well, I finally found your blog. Your rinkly rimes certainly got a big smile from me. But I truly love this poem.

Mari Meehan said...

This is one powerful poem.

Marmot Mom said...

What amazing things you have seen in your lifetime. I too thought this poem was very powerful. When we are younger things are so simple and one-dimensional. I have a child who is now 19 and I see that in her sometimes and wonder how different she'll be by the time she is my age. Thank you for making me think.

Brian Miller said...

great verse...that which divides us says much about us...and for us you do not have travel halfway around the world to see it but perhaps it is even more striking in their country...thanks for linking up with one shot!

Bubba said...

A nice slice-of-life tale!

P.S. - Istambul was Constantinople!

Beachanny said...

Great work, both in structure in substance. It gives me hope because in this generation we, within our own hearts and minds, came to understand the silliness, the prejudice, and the injustice and we pushed through the guilt to try to change, to bring understanding and some little drops of justice.

And we are smart enough to know that all we've thought, and all we've done hasn't eradicated that prejudice but it has created change and that has to be something in one person's life.

Thank you for this! Gay

Marshy said...

i loved the way you wrote this...and it was interesting reading the comments of hope re obama too...thanks for sharing with One Shot...pete

Anonymous said...

Aahh ..the dividing factor.. created by us for us! And what did/does it cause? Exactly what it was meant to cause: division! How sad is that story...

And you've laid it out so beautifully... this is some real food for thought.. don't we really we could undo and redo certain parts of our lives.. in a much better way ofcourse?

Very well written indeed!