Tendai Mwanaka


In the carnival of a conspiracy
  Words distorting truth to lies.
  Writer in a bloc falls down
   With unexpressed anger.

But a toddler bubbles in-
 Sad iambic pentametric tears.
  In a biographical poem like-
    Free falling operatic comedies.
     That does not keep their laughter.

Nigel, you spent 72 days,
  Locked with your parents
  Colin and Violet, for sins unknown,
     In Chikurubi maximum prison.

But only gamblers-
  Have rushed to your bubble wails.
  Searching for some currents,
   An ode, a ditty, or a sonnet.
     But diving for gold, and leaving you.
      Letting you endure your losses alone.

* * *


I gave Marvin some milk to drink
But she just smelled it
And refused to drink it.

I spoke of the D.R.C
But she just stared at me.
I spoke of the elections in Nigeria and Kenya
She started jumping up and down the table.

I spoke of Zimbabwe's problems
She stopped, and stared at me again.
I said it is all because of Mugabe
She just smiled at me like an elfin child.

I spoke of South Africa
And of how Jacob Zuma is good for this country.
She started mewing and growling
And moved out of the room.

And I thought it must have been-
The smell of the milk.

Or Marvin had turned into an Afro-sceptic?

* * *


The arrest and slammed doors

In a cell, in Harare.

                                          The beatings, gorging, choppings

                                          And in the throes of a shape-shift-

The walls of my cell, in Chikurubi

Maximum prison.

                                         Slanting backwards with weights-

                        Of a cracked head, gorged flesh and chopped-

Limbs of my own body.

And my steady howling and gnashing cries.

The CIO's beatings, questions,

Sexual and psychological abuse

                                         Trying to bleed answers from me.

                                         Also from my next cell's occupant.

Talk, talk, talk, the insistent hammer

Of those words repeated again and again.

                 Where are your handlers? Where are the weapons?

                       What was the plan--- that I never had?

That I never knew of, and in the next cell-

The green bombers rage at the cell's occupant.

My lawyer asked for bail and for

A doctor to look at my wounds.

                     Which I was granted by the court, but which

                           The police defied the court over

And re-locked me back in my cell as

They appeal, re-appeal, and re- appeal the appealed

                                        Judgments, whilst

                                        The beatings continue.

Now timed like eating times, three times

A day like breakfast, lunch and supper.

I didn't have anything more to say

I didn't even have the power to say anything

                    To admit to the wrongs I knew I hadn't done.

                                     But by the time I had decided to lie

And admit to shelter myself from the beatings

They were now tired of bleeding me out.

                                     So they brought me before the Judge

And I knew that I was a free-man

That Judge Makarau will not find fault

Save for my rotting chopped hands.

They charged me falsely with

Banditry, terrorism, and insurgency

                                    And I was facing a death sentence.

                             But my lawyer agued long and reasoned

And the judge saw through their schemes

Games and brutalities and-

                                    She released me scotch-free but with-

                                    A brutalized heart, brutalized flesh.

Brutalized soul, brutalized dreams

And brutalized prayers.

But I only felt sorry for-

My next cell's occupant.

                                    Who still had to face more beatings and

                                    Cut limbs before the judge releases him.

Before the CIO tell the police not to- 

Appeal, re-appeal---, the judge's decisions.

                                    And also before the CIO break his spirit.

                                        Never again to write and say-

Anything against this brutal regime.

Or about its brutalities.

Tendai Mwanaka