The Displaced. By Danny Naicker; Convenor of the Live Poets Society (LiPS)

once there were green fields
touched by the sun.
once there were valleys
where rivers used to run
and lush green fields were
blessed by the summer rains
and the land was enriched
it seemed by the goddess of fertility
and the hands that loved the earth
nurtured the soil
and the harvest was in abundance
and they who tilled the land
were content and able to survive

when thunder and lightning
shook the skies
and storm clouds gathered
over the ominous horizon
did they see its sinister approach
did they realize the momentum
of its destructive force
did they anticipate the calamity
to their lives, their homes,
farms and families

with clinical precision
the apartheid machine
with it repressive hand.
Expropriated the land
and compensation was a pittance.
the subsistence farmers became landless
and in so many ways
they were all dispossessed
and made homeless

where once trees of every hue,
shade and colour stood tall
and gave the earth shade and fruits
of every kind
the bulldozers came and razed the land
and when the dust settled to the ground
no trees no farm houses withstood the
apartheid storm
and like mushrooms concrete match boxes
by the thousands sprung up
where once rich vegetation flourished

like the systematic occupation of Palestine
the apartheid regime killed the dream
of a people and a nation
settled communities like dominions
they fell
uprooted and made homeless
by racial draconian laws
and mass removals
of a voiceless people became legal
and apartheid became a crime
against humanity

have you forgotten places
where dreams of a people died
shall we be reminded to resurrect
headstones with epitaphs bearing the
Cato Manor, Mayville , Clairwood,
Seaview the place of my birth
Bellair, Hillary,
Malvern the place of my youth and
Escombe, Pinetown. Greyville, Durban
Durban North, Riverside
and the list goes on and on

if you want to kill a man’s soul
put him in solitary confinement
in a cell measuring six feet long
by six feet wide and six feet high
if you want to take away
the soul of a people
herd them like cattle into reservations
and then starve them of their freedom

through forced mass migration
they shunted them
to racially segregated ghettos
separated them from a place
they once called home
homes, they would never see again
and all they could salvage from the wreck
were their broken dreams
and their shattered lives.

and from the womb
of the apartheid monster
Chatsworth was born
where the streets had no names
just streets and units with numbers
unit one, unit two, unit three
but you will never find unit four
and have you ever wondered
where was unit four
on the apartheid map
Where did the apartheid arithmetic
go wrong
unit five, unit six, unit seven
where the hell was Unit eight
was this another case of miscalculation
in the apartheid racial equation

unit nine unit ten and unit eleven
all the units put together
became apartheid’s ethnic social
engineering on a massive scale
the final racial solution

the irony of it all
the former land owner
the land lord and the tenant
the Brahmin and the pariah
barriers of religion, caste, creed,
and ethnicity came tumbling down
and in the Chatsworth melting pot
all were equal made
by apartheid’s grand plan

and the people could never be aborted
from the womb of Chatsworth.
and the womb became a boiling cauldron
of resistance and agitation
the resilience of the people grew
the spirit that the apartheid monster
tried to kill, refused to die
and be buried in a shallow grave.

And in the face of great adversity
the human spirit triumphed
sacrifices were many,
their struggles for a better life
for their children and their communities
were fought so valiantly
and in the struggle many gave their lives

and from their meager livelihoods
and with their philanthropic spirit
their generosity knew no limits
and the transformation
of a place of no hope
where match box house stood
like concrete sentries
they transformed the landscape
a miracle to behold
a place that once was drab and grey
like Nazi concentration camps
they beautified the environment
and modernized their homes

now Chatsworth stands
as a symbol and a monument
to the resilience of a people
who rewrote their history
not in the sand
but in concrete and granite
that cannot be erased
and they would leave this legacy
to generations to come
and with their selfless courage
they kindled and ignited a flame
that falsehood and deceit
would never be able to extinguish
from their proud history

Gonapragasen Naicker (Danny)
08/11/2013Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 9.15.33 AM


2 thoughts on “The Displaced. By Danny Naicker; Convenor of the Live Poets Society (LiPS)

  1. Dear Danny, your poem was easy on the eye and music to the ears in the beginning but as one read further one is going ‘through the cradle of the Apartheid war’. Even the elements have proven less disastrous as and when compared to the emotional, physical torture and hypocrisy inflicted by such a system. A well written poem. Take a bow, Danny. You’re undoubtedly one of Durban’s Greats.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s