Who Created this Land?

Did God make this country?
Did He furnish all the rubbish and rubble about it?

I guess somebody else made the country in these parts
They forgot the water and the fertile soil
Only dry sand and dust here——

II.
You have been here, my friend
You have been here all your life
You have seen the rise and setting of many suns
You have watched Zomba Mountain shrink away with fear
You have driven to Chawe Inn, many times
And have stopped by the wailing Mulunguzi River
There you have felt the change of the waters;
You drove past Mchenga last year, and saw
The wreckage at the people’s doors there.
You have tasted of the bitter waters of the lake
At Kapolo, and swallowed the sediments with disgust

Indeed you have been here, my friend
You have witnessed the rising and falling of dust in the afternoon
The dust that settled upon your new silver and glass
Upon your new leather sofa on the couch
You have witnessed it all. And you must tell me
If you have seen him who made this country
Walk across this rugged and robbed land
Or sniff the dust that hangs maliciously in the air
Or hop about the gullies across the roads…

Did he see that it was all beautiful
And thought that it would really be all fruitful?

You do not know all these things
You have been so intent upon your forward march
Not even a turn, not even a turn,
Not even a turn upon the wreckage
That would place dust upon your silver and glass
Not even a turn…


You go on with your prayer
I shall only come in upon the chorus
I will be the soothsayer….


Sniff the dusty afternoon air and sigh
Read the weekend paper with a dry smile
And call John to fill the glass again

But you do not know, my friend
You still do not know
Who made the country in these parts
You do not know still
Who designed the gullies across the roads
You do not know still
You do not know
You do not
You——

But
You keep calling John to
Wipe the dust off the silver and glass, to
Wipe it off the leather sofa upon your couch, to
Wipe it off the windscreen of your new Fold, to
Keep wiping, and wiping, and wiping———while you,
You stare timidly at the dusty whirlwind across the window
And pray that the ship does not sink
An ancient hand calm the waters
And you call John still
To close the blinds, and lock the doors
Thinking that a handful of dust needs doors and windows
To creep in…

You go on with your prayer
I will only come in upon the chorus
I will be the soothsayer…

 

III.
You will not like me when I rise to speak
The silent word of the desert, to retreat
To the still and silent word of the desert…
Repent, Harlequin! You shall bang again the table
And taint the air across the country….that I am a trouble


Oh Creon
You should have known the power of ignorance!


And see Creon
The tick-tock of time
The tick-tock of time long proclaimed
The deathly tick-tock of the watches upon your wrists——
Watch for the irony of the Ticktockman your own making!

 

From: Songs for my Country…..a manuscript

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