The River Sings of Blackness: A Pan-African, Capetonian Song


He is regal and elegant. Seated at the center chair: it suits him. A light skin milestone, colored, of a wanting progression from the leash of apartheid. I should be listening, taking notes. He is, of course, the highest ranking and first colored and non-white person on the highest court of the land. But back home he would not be black. Perhaps of color, but his flesh does not know me.

Surely he has been through the jousts of racial survival and perfected his own style of survival jujitsu. Surely, but his flesh does not know me. Off-white with full lips and a strong nose that is domineering, commanding attention and salutations from all within it’s reach. His tongue expounds truths heavy and thick, accentuated by Indian and Capetonian roots, but his flesh doesn’t know me.

My black flesh is a compounding mystique. It can only be understood, remarked upon and fully beheld by folks of the flesh, folks birthed of blackness, survivors of flurries of white instabilities. He is not of the flesh. So we sit and listen, politely, in this post-apartheid courtroom–which smells of power and stale carpet–surrounded by black and brown faces reared for privilege acquisition, as a native black and colored voices sing, chant and speak in the streets.

It seems violent doesn’t it? To travel three continents, as Howard’s fabled “Social Engineers” and lovers of blackness, only to sit in the halls of power, chaired by an off-white man while purposely and dutily ignoring the black voices of passion, speaking of home, in the streets?

We dare not seek their faces. I cannot decipher the meaning of their words, but their flesh calls me forth, calls me home; so I loosen my flamboyantly pink tie–in this heard of black suits and smart skirts–hoping to get a little closer to home.

Their voices catch my thoughts swiftly and without warning much like the undercurrent of the muddy, mighty Mississippi. What power exuded! I had been seduced into thinking I was swimming, only to realized I hadn’t breathed in seconds. My lungs were hot with truths, far from the oxygen of post-racial grandeur. My mind was no longer my own. My body had been pulled by to earth, scraped clean and deep, by the muddy clays of truth. In me, they unearthed a richness tha tonly the waves of mourning can uncover. I speak rivers, but they flow for a living. I’m coming home, ripe and fertile for a blooming.

Follow Tabias Olajuawon on Twitter @BlaQueerFlow. Like our page on Facebook at BlaQueerFlow & Tabias Olajuawon Wilson.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jules E Evans says:

    your poetry keeps me awake – quite literally. i read this piece after a long, hot morning of drowsiness and Louisiana rains. now i feel a spirit – your words – enlivened me. look forward to reading more as you move through your summer. question – who are you reading while in Cape Town? what books or essays or poetry did you carry across the Atlantic?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. blaqueerflow says:

      This is such a beautiful comment. Thank you for this love! I’ve been struggling through so many thoughts and finally found a proper journal to note them. Keep your eyes peelers for the book! I’m current reading Toni morrisons new “God help the child”

      Like

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