Month: February 2016

Stand And Sing of ???

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That right there is pretty good illustration of how well/unwell we know our national anthem. Besides the ever popular happy birthday, it’s arguably the most celebrated song in the land so it wasn’t such a stretch to think that every Zambian above the age of five could sing the Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free in its entirety. Boy was I wrong!

Last week, I watched a local news magazine and was utterly amazed at how many people can’t sing all the three verses of the anthem. In fact not one person managed to sing them all or at least not correctly. Most did okay with the first verse and the chorus but the second and third were disastrous to say the least. Ironic coz the opening words (which everyone knows of course) are as follows: Stand and sing of Zambia, proud and free…Proud you say? Unless one is of the thinking that ignorance is bliss there is no pride in not knowing our own song.

After being disappointed by my proud countrymen I thought maybe the participants on TV had been cherry-picked for the very reason that they dint know the anthem. I decided to do an experiment: asking random people on their knowledge of the national anthem and I don’t mean history or trivia questions…the simple task of sing the national anthem. Having witnessed it on TV already, the results were not so shocking. From the 14 people I asked none, zero, nought, zilch, jack could sing the national anthem from beginning to end.

I tried to console myself by saying my sample size was small but the spread convinced me otherwise -primary school kids to middle aged folks. The anthem is printed on the back of primary school exercise books, surely there must be some kids who’ve mastered it. The 50 to 60 year olds were 10 or younger when the country gained political independence (1964), you’d think the song meant something to them and those born into freedom when it was adopted in 1973. Maybe its meaning died with the patriotism of the freedom fighters. Perhaps the fervour of 1964, the bald fish eagle and the indomitable human spirit sung of have simply been diluted by decades of corruption and moral coarsening.

And I guess my generation is either not interested to know and live that song or we just feel the elders have failed us coz the song has clearly lost its reverence. I can’t remember the last time I sung the national anthem. Maybe it’s the youth, the leaders of tomorrow who have lost touch with their roots. It was all different from when I was a kid, I song that song so proudly at school parade every Monday morning with my hand on my heart. In my younger years I’d stumble through the first verse and would try my best to complete it without hurting my tongue…hold on! That’s it! We only sing the first verse, at school, soccer matches, presidential inaugurations and swearing in ceremonies, that’s how come we don’t know the other verses…come on, that’s a lame excuse. We’ve mastered all the verses of Hills by The Weeknd, even the outro which he sings in his native Amharic – it’s all about interest.

I know there’s thousands, hopefully millions of people out there who know the national anthem word for word but it would’ve been cool to come across one person with the words on the tip of the tongue ready to vindicate the rest. With each passing sentence I feel like this article is rather a fuss coz I know the anthem start to end but it seems something of a charade to me, a necessary lie coz I have a hard time recognising and relating to most of what the song says. It would appear as though the hopes of our fore fathers and the times we live in are as far from each other as the east is from the west. Like the pic above, it’s all hazy. Suddenly The Weeknd’s lyrics are more relatable. As mentioned above, our anthem is more ceremonial than anything. Perhaps a remnant of a once glorious but fleeting past handed from one generation to another. Yet a simple fact remains: most of us do not know our own song, all the more reason to learn it and rediscover ourselves.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

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We’re good people with bad habits, living in an ugly world

That’s just too simplified

Maybe I’m making excuses for you again

I mean we got the same woolly hair, thick lips and broad nose

Even more importantly we got the same brain

So why do you look at me as though I’m ugly

Must be my tattered t-shirt and the stench it gives off

 

In this bad economy where we can’t afford to waste resources

You can’t afford to brush my thoughts aside

Or leave me behind

My future desperately rests on your conscience

So it’s not money but attention I seek

Lend me an ear and maybe a chance

Coz right now I got it bad

 

Remember the good old days?

Playing in the dirt without a care in the world

Well I’m still covered in dirt

And your good heart couldn’t care less

I guess your love really is blind

But what do I know?

I’m just a good kid with bad breath and an ugly t-shirt

 

My City

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From Cairo Road, Cha Cha Cha, Freedom Way to Lumumba
And every adjacent street from Ben Bella on the South End right to the North End
These names are no coincidence, these streets and their people ooze life
This rectangle is dotted with banks, restaurants, boutiques, hotels, bureaus, pharmacies, internet cafes and shops of all sorts
There auto shops, barbershops, bookshops, wholesale shops and just shops…and a couple of abandoned buildings too
The corridors, sidewalks and streets are strewn with women carrying babies on their back
Trading, selling something, anything to make a quick buck
The well-arranged merchandise boasts quite a range
Beans, caterpillars, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, groundnuts, peas
Cucumbers, okra, peppers, cabbages, kapenta, rice, pumpkin leaves
Freshly fried samosa, dondos and vitumbuwa
It’s a cornucopia of colours and shapes, each with a distinct texture and a radiant story to tell
Don’t forget the ever present bananas, apples and oranges
Each hasty transaction ends with the flash of a smile
The items find their way into a plastic bag or get wrapped on some old newspaper page
So you’ll have something to read when you’re home
Urchins aptly called street kids roam the streets day and night barely getting by, begging and mugging passer-by’s while sniffing glue
Young men my age walk these streets
Their products hang on the walls and on their arms
They walk around in skinny and baggy jeans, the baggy ones usually sag
They sell everything, from the simple yet handy plastic bags
To belts, sun glasses, dresses, blazers, underwear, toothpicks, earbuds and sweets
Combs, shoe and hair brushes, smart and dumb phones, tablets and all other gizmos in between
And if you’re lucky you might come across a genuine pair of Italian made moccasins
But it’s the perfumes that will quickly grab your attention: from sweet scents to offensive stenches, they are all found here
Throw in some cigarette smoke, aromas from the restaurants and food stands, odours from the pharmacies
Fragrances worn by the people you’re literally rubbing shoulders with and good old body odour and what you have is an overload of my sense of smell
But nothing is as fascinating as the sounds of this city,
These streets move to the rhythm of my heart beat
This is the soundtrack to my life, a fine concerto by the Lusaka Streets Philharmonic Orchestra:
Soft taps and heavy stomps from tens of thousands of footsteps
Groaning doors from rusty hinges
Rustling of paper, cloth and plastic
Babies on their mothers and grandmothers backs chuckling, sometimes crying
Vendors negotiating with buyers
Some barely audible, then a scream here, a holler there and an exaggerated yell, all notifying people of a clearance sale
Welcome to salaula, here second hand articles of clothing can go for as low as k1
The most popular gear here are graphic and franchised cartoon characters t-shirts, keepsakes from rock concerts with detailed tour dates and American high school or varsity sports apparel
There’s something alluring about a sweltering street teeming with small multi coloured commuter buses as they zip and zig zag the clogged street at rush hour
Inside the passengers packed like sardines more often than not witness the drivers and conductors verbal vomit:
The eternal lament, the uproarious laughter, the jaw dropping curses, the inspiring stories aided by a pensive stare, the monosyllabic responses and the deafening silence but most of all the outrageous hooting
This is a portrait of the city I love
An abundance of colours
A fusion of smells
A symphony of sounds
These streets are the strokes in the mural that is my city
And it’s alive from Sunday to Sunday
Everyday someone hopes to make it off the street someday

The Girl

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 Wondering who this girl is

I can tell you she brings Nefertiti to her knees

Regal beauty that goes beyond the face

She’s 1.76m of charm and grace

Free spirited, smart and pretty is her style

The sort of girl who can change the world with her smile

Her moist and sensuous honey tasting lips

Curl perfectly as she speaks

And when she speaks it’s not just words; its heart and mind

Tailored by a thought pattern so well refined

Her modest utterances are enough

To make me cry, think and laugh

Observe how she carries herself and you will see

How her life is a tribute to poetry

Warm and pleasant, a marvel of nature she is

To God I daily pray, “Teach me to love her completely, please”.

“Let my eye not wonder to look upon other women

And may she forever be the inspiration of my pen”

If seen please tell her I love her ❤

Musings Of A Lump Of Clay

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Heavy, firm and grey
I am a proud lump of clay
Whose body’s been dampened by soiled water
Battered the palm of a potter
Who molds me against my hearts will
For her soft hands cannot feel

Her hands cannot feel my voice
They can’t hear its whisper, reason or noise
Whenever I scream as I imagine myself
A tiny tea cup, sitting on a well-polished shelf
That hangs somewhere in the top
Of a lonely, expensive china shop

I don’t want to sit there and grow old
Waiting to be bought or sold
A priceless piece of chinaware
To be handled with utmost care
To be kissed by lips that are outspoken
Or simply to be broken

Won’t you take me home?
Return me to where I came from
To the clayey earth, take me back there
Mind, body and soul so I can breathe the air
Drink the rain and feel the day
So I can be but a few, happy grams of clay