My Africa

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Part 1

By Jerry S. Kai-Lewis

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories”
Amílcar Cabral (1924 – 1973)

My Africa is west. It is a land of great contrasts, of a stolen and forgotten past, a present of stark realities, of unimaginable beauty, hope in adversity, and a future of possibilities if taken by the horn. This is the land of Songhai, of Timbuktu and Gao of Mali, of Ghana, Nok and Ife. This is where heaven meets earth, where men fought with gods and won, and the gods blessed the soil with jewels. This is the land of Sundiata Kante, Mansa Musa, Askia Mohammad, Sunni Ali, and Abubakari. It is the land of independence and liberty, where the seekers of liberty and wisdom stole the freedom of those they met on the ground. This is home to Nkrumah, Diop, Cabral, Toure (Samory), Senghor, Du Bois and Chinweizu to name but a few. But ask any of the current crop of West Africans about these people, they would ask you a rhetorical question. In my Africa there is no more culture or custom. You don’t even see it on TV, where there is barely any local content. So, what are the kids learning about our past? Ask them about this and they will tell you that they are too busy sorting out the present. My Africa is the lost generation…
Lost generation
No idea where you’re heading
No cares about or knowledge of your past
You were once warriors
Now you are a nation of hard-knock lifers
Quick to pull a blade, bottle or knife
Quicker to buy a docket to make a case disappear day or night
Hmmm
How the mighty have fallen
From a height not too far from despair
To a place of shameless delights
My children smile with a bad taste
But lie with a straight face
Too caught up in the struggle to impress
In a state of undress
Used clothes and bad grades
To notice their sad state of affairs
In a twilight zone trying to find
Their way home with a broken homing device
They look for their rights but it’s a dead end
So they copy the wrongs
And find themselves in a spaced-out reality of hunger pangs
They know the football games names and scores
But not the score on what is happening on their doorsteps and backyards
But it’s written on their faces
Through hard times and empty dinner plates
So my daughter is now coming home late
It’s hard for her to think straight hungry
So she finds the nearest guy that promises her a plate or money
Then leave her knocked up or sick
And left to look after the seed
You see
Her education came in a crooked way
Too many schools and teachers
But not enough professionals giving the lessons
In our homes and schools
So the kids can think straight
So they make heroes out of
Dope dealing-scantily dressed-emaciated-doped up-alcoholic fiends
They call celebrities
Trying to live the fictionalized reality of life imitating art
They move in crews like they see on TV
So they IS gangsters now?
Yeah right
Now their future is bright
But the light comes from the flash of a loaded 9mm or a knife
So we holding up traffic in a funeral procession to St. Francis

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