Happy new year! Nothing profound to say, may 2017 just be happy!

Like most people, with the end/start of each year, I make an effort to convey my appreciation to my beloveds. For the most part, I avoid a one-fits-all-solution. I tailor things to the individual—unless, of course, the person fundamentally believes e-wallet or a million-whatever-deposit is the only way to express my love and appreciation.

Below, is a poem that I wrote to one of my beloveds. Enjoy!1

Ba re tlou ke phoofolo ea ho se lebale,
Sentebale motloung e motle.

Ha letsatsi le chaba,
Ha le phirima,
Le teng ke re: Sentebale!

Ha litsukunyane tsa bophelo lifihla,
Ha khotso e phallaka se ka metsi a foro,

Ha mariha a fihla,
Le ha lehlabula le fihla,
Ka ho ts’oana,

Sentebale, “forget-me-not”,
Nna palesa ea lihlaba.
Nna palesa ea botle ba bo siila-tsatsi.
Sentebale, “forget-me-not”!

  1. Ordinarily, I would have considered a translation. However, the elegance and/or simplicity of this poem lies in the false binary tone that qualifies it as an end/start of the year type of a poem (yes I am inventing a genre here…hahaha).

    On a serious note, I believe a translation could have rendered the false true. In translation, we could have lost the very essence of what lies at the heart of using binary opposition in Sesotho. Basically, we position things in binary for impact, while holding the understanding that things exist in continuum. #ExampleOfHyperboleInSesotho 😎

Ham’s Relation

This poem is as much about me as it is about my youngest sibling—Hamster, the baby of the family. It is for this reason, though it would have been apt, I don’t declare myself an ancestor of Ham, the supposed father of all black people based on colonial mythology.

I am Ham’s relation
A proud sister
And true daughter of the soil

But I am more than my skin colour
I am a being toiling at becoming
Like a thorn bird, I shall sing my song
A liberating song for my true existence
Death I shall not fear
For mine is a search of meaning

I am Ham’s relation
I am, I am, I am!


I am really trying hard to get ‘clicking’ in order to communicate in isiXhosa. Enunciating X and C words is proving to be somewhat challenging. The Q words on the other hand are easier to deal with. I suppose this could be explained by the fact that we actually have Q in the Sesotho alphabet — C and X do not exist; “nxa!” in all good conscience cannot be used to contradict my assertion.

With the above said, may I quickly point out that we don’t necessarily have a tide of ‘Q words’, though Q exists in the Sesotho alphabet. I know I could be wrong, but being innately in love with knowing (or speaking from a relatively infallible position) I decided to embark on a little pet project to verify my “facts”. In this project of mine, I tried to find Q words that were not associated with mountains, rivers or other types of landmarks e.g. Senqu, Qiloane, Qhobosheane, Qoqolosing, etc. Then moved on to consider words that could possibly be classified as mundane like: moqoqo (conversation), qabola (to incite laughter), qhibiliha (to melt), seqha (bow or sling –if we make technical accuracy expendable), seqhaqhabola (sour soft porridge). I then progressed to those seriously “cool” words that hardly come in everyday conversation.

An example of a “cool” word that came my path is moqasea. Moqasea is a Sesotho synonym for ‘khethollo‘ (discrimination). Observe how I have decided to go the synonym route, so as to avoid nuances that may exist between the words discrimination and prejudice. This, of course, is intentional and self-serving! First, it allows me to retain my “relative infallible” position. Second, and most importantly, it helps me to (hopefully) hype up the word, which I regard as cool –be it only because it got my poetic juices flowing, see below:

Ka terapola, ka lelera ‘na nthoana batho!
Ke ne ke batlana le makhulo a matala,
Ke batlana le liliba tse sa psheng.
Ka teana le moqasea, ka makala:
Mofuta oa feela oa tšoana le qoba la koae!1

‘Nete ea ba sebabetsane ho ‘na.
Pelo ea hlonama, ea hopola lihlaba tsa Thesele.
Ea re e khutla mafisa, bofifi ba apoha.
Ha luma mantsoe a nkhere, Mohlomi: “pelo ke setlhare”!
Ha hlaka hore ho nena moqasea e le kannete ke pheko.

Ka hona, ke etsa thapeli ke re:
“Ha re neneng moqasea, khotso e rene;
Hoba Seokamela ke ‘Mopi oa batho bohle”

A contextualised translation of the above poem is as follows:

I travelled, and wandered with naivety!
I was in search of greener pastures,
And wells that never go dry.
Instead, I met prejudice and got astounded:
My own humanity was precariously in doubt! 2

The truth became bitter.
My heart, depressed, yearned for Moshoeshoe’s land.
But as it lifted, the dark was illuminated.
Words of the great sage, Mohlomi echoed: “The heart is medicinal”!
Sincere hatred for prejudice was and is a cure.

For this reason, I appeal to all:
“Let’s truly despise prejudice, so peace may reign;
For we are all beings of one Creator!”

  1. “Mofuta ha o nkhoe ka nko e se qoba la koae” — is an old adage that suggests you cannot treat a foreigner like a pitch of snuff, which you can sniff to determine its quality
  2. Worded to invoke Judith Butler’s idea of precarity, where some lives may be deemed more precious than others: if, for example, one were to consider the reality where the humanity of foreigners or outsiders can be reduced to a point of it being “ungrievable”. In my mind, this invocation fits well with the Sesotho adage -see above footnote- that was initially used to capture the idea.

I remember

I remember when I had no trouble recalling names.
I had no need for mnemonics, I could just remember;
My memory was sharp and unchained by societal norms.
I was free, with no care in the world about political correctness.

Today, under the brunt of political correctness, a lot I forget.
I forget as I actively try to remember my social cues.
Will an honest admission or utterance be misconstrued?
A lot I forget, but still, I remember to question myself!
I remember and in remembering I paralyse myself:
As I passively face the death of my yesterdays.

Where are my yesterdays?
Have they passed away or passed on?
Certain of being politically incorrect, I ask again:
Have my yesterdays passed away or passed on?

Frankly, I care not of the difference;
For I remember the teachings of resurrection.
So, free of political correctness concerns,
My yesterdays shall be resurrected.
For I remember the joy they brought me:
Joy of open communication rooted in sincerity.
Yes, this I remember, and this I shall resurrect.
For it is a cherished truth about my yesterdays!

Sweet Bitter Disaster

A friend (once granted short-term benefits) has made me an offer I chose not to resist. I am indeed very grateful for it. It was a wonderful gesture for our friendship and, believe it or not, an affirmation to my worthiness.

It was also a test of sort, encapsulating a number of questions about my own personal beliefs and values. To be honest, some of the questions existed only because of the “once granted benefits”, which nearly costed us our friendship, alas indirectly. The actual cause was a single episode I term “la koloba”; taken from a Sesotho expression “a le nyaea la koloba”, which means to be lost for words.

Because of this episode, I nearly severed our entire relationship (not just the benefits). However, it wasn’t because I was blameless. I just couldn’t accept the convenience of words momentarily disappearing, given that I had continued to possess them in a situation that clearly called for my protection. In ghetto terms, the situation required for him specifically (as a friend or “benefactor”) to have my back! The details themselves were not at all relevant; it was about “seeing the forest for the trees” situation. Seeing that inaction, in whatever form, amounted to being rejected (not just at a conceptual level, but at the core of my existence).

With the above said, if I were to poetically describe the “la koloba” episode to capture the broad context of what had happened and what happened, I would put it as follows:

He was cowardly and I was feisty.
But this didn’t spell a disaster.
Our backgrounds or timing did.

We perhaps lacked the maturity to see this fact.
Or, we were untrue with ourselves to see the brewing disaster:
Gratifyingly sweet for the body and mind in the shared private moments;
Plainly and crudely bitter for the soul under the watchful eyes of the public.

Musical prelude, it is happening … there is no going back.
We have stepped in the abyss of the movie of our own making.
The cowardly soul yearns to be engulfed in a silky world filled with self.
The feisty soul yearns to be shielded without the silky frills of vanity.

A bruised butterfly in the abyss, seeking the protection of a cocooning soul,
What a truly sweet and bitter disaster!


Sometimes I express myself in silence and through observation.
Other times I express myself through laughter and dance.
And the rest of the time I express myself gladly in words.

Yet words have proven to be unreliable and unfaithful to thee:
They flatter and condemn even when my intentions are pure;
They delight and confuse even when my mind is filled with clarity;
They heal and injure even when I purposefully leave them unspoken in my heart.

Words, you are a double-edged sword that tantalises and taunts my existence.
You are a lifetime friend and foe that truly defines my essence.
So, I will never turn my back on you – the colourful ink of my soul.
For you give life and spirit to the (im)potency of my expression.

If He Wrote a Letter

If he wrote a letter, it wouldn’t be to finalise a will.
It also wouldn’t be to justify an entry to heaven.

If he wrote a letter, it would only be to say: “I have lived and I am thankfully”!
And signed or unsigned, we would all know that in death his was the last word.
So death, listen and be not proud; for you remain a medium without expression.

Heralding Spring

A season for springing into action to spruce things up (after a slumber) has arrived. Below is my tribute to this wonderful season of new beginnings:

Lumela selemo,
Selelekela sa lehlabula,
Kobo ea rona mafutsana!

Kapa ka leleme la moo bokholoa, u batla ke re:
Molo, abusheni, sanibona, avuwani?
Hore na u batlang,
Tseba hore ke tla phethisa;
Hoba u lehakoe la pelo ea ka.

Ha u fihla kea nyakalla.
U tla le mofuthu oa letsatsi.
U tla le meloli ea linonyana.
Ho feta moo, u tla le botle ba lithung-thung.

Selemo! U se u fihlile.
Ke thabo le monyaka feela ho ‘na.
Malume boo!

An in context translation of the above is as follows:

Greetings (in Sesotho) to you spring,
The prelude of summer,
The blanket for us the poor!

Or you prefer a greeting in the language of this land,
(which I have seemingly made home)? 1
Whatever your preference,
Know your wish is my command;
For you are a precious stone in my heart.

When you arrive I become blissful.
You come with the warmth of the sun.
You come with the melody of the birds.
Moreover, you come with blossoms of beauty.

Spring! You have arrived.
Joy and happiness reign supreme in me.
I triumphantly herald you!

  1. This implication is embedded in the use of the word bokholoa, which refers to a place where a long-term absentee from the motherland (lekholoa) resides in.