Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homing in on here

I swung by the University of Botswana this afternoon to visit with the Malawian writer Jack Mapanje. The UK based poet is currently on a year long sabbatical teaching a couple of courses at the university and polishing up a manuscript, I last saw Mapanje in London mid last year and although he has been in Botswana since August 2012 I was away doing stuff until recently. I figured its never too late to say 'welcome, I hope we are being nice'. 
Due to my somewhat peripatetic (found that word last week and I've been itching to squeeze it in somewhere) lifestyle I traded holidays last year, I was away for Botswana’s independence but got to celebrate my first ever thanksgiving in Vermont. Mapanje on the other hand was here to witness Batswana celebrate their independence day, I’ve wrangled the first poem he wrote in Gaborone from his work in progress pile

                                                Independence Anniversary Celebration
                                          Makwerekwere Style, Botswana, 2012
They are all gone to their
cattle posts, kraals, villages,
to celebrate independence
among the people; colleague
Maude even bragged about
visiting the golden beaches
of Cape Town instead, on this
umpteenth anniversary of
her liberation; they are gone
leaving our Gaborone Malls,
ATM holes in walls, churches
empty; they are gone taking
their money and morals with
them; let us, therefore, you & I

that they call makwerekwere,
with no cattle posts, no kraals
to boast about, let us, brother,
hope the ATMs they have left
behind can stock up quickly,
so we can visit The Golf Club,
Botswana Crafts, Eros, wherever
live jazz guitars are twanging
and saxophones blustering; if
they too have joined the rush,
we’ll race their naked streets,
perhaps stop for oxtail and pap
at some cafe that must open
on this anniversary

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