Friday, June 20, 2008

Nostalgie ya belle époque

Who would have thought, 30 years ago,That we would be here today?

The words of Tabu Ley, Franco, drifting into the garden
From the LP prayer,
Carrying with them
Memories of a time
When we were us,
Conscious and comfortable in our skins.
Who would have thought
We would remember those times as good times?

It was a time before Mayi Mayi and UKIMWI,
Janjaweed and Mungiki.
I can’t lie.
It was also a time of ashes and blood.
But the hope that the phoenix would rise
Gave us hope.
We didn’t know this then.
We had no sense of what the future would bring.
We had no idea that we’d forever be turning back,
Looking on past horizons with longing.

We lived in the present then.
Now we live in the past,
While tentatively dipping our toes into the future,
Testing it out,
Hoping that it won’t burn.
The present is too heavy to experience.
So we save it up,
Burn it onto DVDs and print it out on bleached paper.
We will return 20 years hence with wisdom and insight,
Ready to analyze and to dissect,
Ready to understand.

Listening to them now,
The Congolese greats,
We forget that the past and present are separate.
We skirt around those complications, the ethnic nationalisms and the refugee camps,
The IDPs and the illicit small arms trade.
We hang suspended between the notes,
Pausing in the silence between then and now,
Taking a brief respite from the consequences of being who we are.

This poem is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Please feel free to use my writing for non-commercial purposes and do credit my name, Rose Kahendi, as the writer.

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