Wednesday, February 27, 2008


This was a project I had to do back in form 6 (as though that was so long ago...)

Rivonia, Pretoria and then to Robben island,
Seven of us- the promised ones, so now I know that I can- begin to hope,
But we had better learn to cope, with rations of mealies and sips of coffee, apartheid to make sure my daily bread is taken from me, a life sentence, they try, thinking they could cure me- of this sickness. This eternal, internal, uncontrolled weakness, for my stolen rights, to turn against countless wrongs that turn themselves into the frowns, of my children’s children. Because this system filled them- with hopelessness locked inside melanin, locked inside the adrenalin that fuels me to dream, and though right now I just might feel- powerless, I must never let this cold arrest-get the better of my passions, I ride on the wings of the ANC and so my mind is fashioned- for freedom. We come with clenched fists to deliver a blow to their souls, freedom! Power! Amandla!, For the people, we stand bold. Four hundred and sixty-six, slash sixty-four, political, physical, prisoner, but mentally secure. Long labouring hours we spend working in this quarry, days that take years to end, but all this only adds to our story. Freedom chants, call and response, booming from cell to cell, Sell my liberty for your culture? Never! So naturally I rebel.
The island becomes a University, a place for universal thought, political ideologies shared and new strategies are sought. Each man having his story to tell, we are all lecturers and students, with our own faculty and curriculum, as warders would watch our movements. Family comes occasionally, but my mother, she soon died, my wife being watched by the police, so now she’s being forced to hide. June 16th 1976, the school children protested, by September of that very
year, some young men were got themselves arrested. They came over to the island, and they put them in isolation, we now feel immense relief, for they are the new revolution. Stories I heard soon enough, the people form solidarity, the campaigning had begun again, now they demand that the government free me. March of 1982, I was told to pack my bags, my wife had been in an accident, and I was taken away by armed guards. “Pollsmoor Prison” he said, when I asked him where we were, but on February 11th 1990, my life was again familiar. Freedom was found.
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered."- Nelson Mandela

- Arielle John copyright 2007

Monday, February 25, 2008


Wrapped up in the thought of him like a roti,
(but a veggie roti though, cuz I still refuse to eat meat),
Safran for a midday sun and
Breezes collecting the scents of spices,
Intices my tastebuds,
but stingin' meh nose
(because I'm still alergic to masala).
I had a whole one today.
Make-up for breakfast this morning,
Wake-up round lunch time,
With a yellow-bellied bird bawling,
And the north-east trades calling
out the one-fifth east-indian in me.
Saturday was just meant for curry.
Curry was just meant for a Saturday.
-Arielle John copyright 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Wind

This village now is silent.
More silence than I, for myself ever heard before,
With nothing other than the wind, to make her signature across a dirt floor,
And me in the middle of meh front door, waiting like a fool for something to make sense again.
Silence as the ancestors bathe themselves in ashes,
Bitter tears, screaming in an infinite anguish, but still…silence.
Silence as the land swallows the blood of those who lived,
Of those who died here.
Here where these rebels come on horse-back,
Their skin was too, but ours were the darker of the two blacks,
Not armed with atomic weapons, or sophisticated machine guns,
But with machetes, knives, blades and clubs,
And a dark greed hovering above
their consciences…thaz if God did make them with any at all.
So I sit here on the earthen floor,
Hands squeezed between my knees,
Just as my thoughts are compressed into forgetting hope.
Then as though to mock meh, I feel a slight breeze,
Coming as a gentle reminder of things not so gentle.
The dust here rises, circles, and rests again,
With the years of this soil, swallowing the ambitions of our men and women, …and children…our children.
History taking us hostage, but who to pay the ransom?
Our days to be stalked by these merciless phantoms, fantasizing daily about,
Virtual cash - flowing below our bare feet,
Forming thick black rivers that all anxiously meet
At the intersection of foreign investments and human life,
Economic development and human life.
Human greed and human life.
Our lands are fertilized -
With these bodies, bones and blood,
Until these too are forgotten and they become fossils to flood
This entire continent.
-By Arielle John copyright 2007