Sangoma in Our Closet

Note: A sangoma is an African shaman, a traditional Zulu healer

There’s a sangoma in our closet
At the office beneath the stair
Most think that she’s a little crazy
Taking daily refuge there
They see her through their bias:
The ‘girl’ who makes us tea
The messenger, the general help –
Why, who else could she be?

There’s a sangoma in our closet
But no one seems to care
In ignorance they shake their heads
They smile, try not to stare
Their arrogance has blinded them
To her secret, sacred role:
Revered within her community
As a doctor of the soul

There’s a sangoma in our closet
Whose beliefs we’ll never share
Schooled in ancient mystic lore
In magic foul and fair
Around her neck is loosely strung
Symbolic beads and string
An initiate in ways of power –
To dance, divine and sing

There’s a sangoma in our closet,
A sight both strange and rare
In semi-dark she conjures dreams
And whispers words of prayer
She listens as her ancestors
Give counsel true and wise
She contemplates life’s mysteries
Not least her divergent lives

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Little Foot

A tribute to the “Little Foot” fossil at Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa

Your footprints in the rock
Supplied a vital clue
A key that might unlock
The mystery of you

They take us on a journey
Back four million years
A branching of the life-tree
When ape-man first appears

Aeons passed in slumber
Left undisturbed by time
Until Man’s blast of thunder
Exposed the hollow lime

Even then you stayed hid
In caves of Sterkfontein
The world’s first hominid
A secret yet remained

Until the revelation
By digger Robert Clarke
Brought you commendation
And freedom from the dark

Upon an outstretched arm
Your weary head still rested
And your shortened palm
Sparked theories now contested

Your waking in the valley
Takes science to the brink
Could you really be
The fated missing link?

Of you books will be written
Your sleep has turned to fame
Your progeny are smitten
And echo your proud name

Little Foot you have trod
Our path of history
Forever after we are shod
With your humanity

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Cave of the Gods

A tribute to Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa

What is this place?
This home of the stromatolite
Which breathed oxygen into life
When the planet still steamed toxic?

What is this place?
This womb of the mammals
Which found warmth in their blood
When reptiles still ruled the land?

What is this place?
This cradle of the ape-man
Who walked erect on the ground
When the jungles still favoured swinging?

What is this place?
This crucible of the stone-man
Who tamed the wild red flower
When nature still feared incineration?

What is this place?
This forge of the iron-man
Who amplified power in their hands
When the elements still tested survival?

What is this place?
This valley of the ancestors
Who discovered strength in community
When civilization still wanted nurturing?

What is this place?
This tomb of the warriors
Who fought the battle for dignity
When prejudice was still a formidable foe?

What is this place?
This site of world heritage
Which celebrates creation’s genesis
When the world still craves rebirth?

What is this place?
This cave of the gods
Who dream humanity into the future
When evolution is still an embryo?

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Sahara

A silky dust devours the miles ahead
Between the barely living and the dead
The thirsty sun sucks every dewy drop
Up from the bare-ribbed sand dunes’ barren crop

Yet strung across the shimmering mirage
A silent camel-beaded entourage
Comes bearing treasured spices, oils and balms
To green oases under shaded palms

Along these trails our history is told
As stories trade and mysteries unfold
Connecting East and West in common cause
And teaching from the book of Nature’s laws

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

Share

Women of Africa

Women of Africa
In the land of bow and spear
Of chieftain and warrior
Of hunter and hunted
You are the silent gatherer
The unsung provider
The hidden basket
We raise you up
And speak your praise

In the shifting sands of power
You are the pyramid of constancy
Standing firm
Against the fierce winds of time

On the endless plains of possibility
You are the gentle matriarch
Leading the way
Through the fickle seasons of life

In the thirsty dust of desperation
You are the baobab of sustenance
Rooted deep
In the quenching earth of faith

You gather the tears of the world
And in the midst of mourning
You find reason to smile

You gather the tribes of the world
And in the chaos of squabbling
You sow seeds of community

You gather the stories of the world
And in the firelight of remembrance
You keep the spirit burning

Women of Africa
The music of every place
Moves to your swaying hips
And shakes to your stamping feet

Women of Africa
The children of every time
Suckle on your ample bosom
And fall asleep to your lullaby

Women of Africa
The victims of every tragedy
Seek solace in your arms
And find comfort in your voice

You gather the light of the world
And in the darkest caves of evil
You spread your luminescence

You gather the orphans of the world
And in the villages of your heart
You give them a place to call home

You gather the elders of the world
And in the sacred councils of trust
You show us a better way

When our past dries to a trickle
You are the river delta
That reunites our memories
With the sea of history

When our days are drought stricken
You are the tireless pestle
That grinds our hardship
Into the flour of wisdom

When our future lies in shadow
You are the wild prophetess
That divines our destiny
In the pattern of bones

Women of Africa
In a world of folly and fear
Of division and diversion
Of begetting and forgetting
You are the mighty gatherer
The harvester of wholeness
The maker of peace
We honour you this day
And forever more

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Lost City of Gold

Mapungubwe
Rise once more
Up from the south Limpopo shore
Let now your ancient tale be told
Of those who built the Place of Gold

Mapungubwe
On the hill
Your royal graves whisper us still
Of treasures lost and fortunes made
Before your kingdom’s star did fade

Mapungubwe
We can trace
A thousand year old trading base
Exchanging gold and ivory
For spices, silks and rainbow beads

Mapungubwe
Let us sing
The praises of your gilded king
Whose golden rhino, staff and bowl
Your riches to this day extol

Mapungubwe
Formed to be
A civilised society
And guided by a higher fate
Gave birth to this first nation state

Mapungubwe
We proclaim
The untold glories of your name
And to this day your lofty brand
Bestows top honours in this land

Mapungubwe
See it’s true
That from your seed a great tree grew
With sturdy roots and fruits sublime
And branches across space and time

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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If These Stones Could Whisper

Tribute to Robben Island

If these stones could whisper, what secrets would they tell?
Would it be of aeons past, when all the sky was fiery rain
And lava flowed and rock congealed to sculpt this coastal plain?
Or would they speak of great divide, when land was rent asunder
By tidal waves and raging winds and peals of angry thunder?

If these stones could whisper, what beginnings would they remember?
Would they recall the first cry of Man, still a babe within the cradle
Or the eager infant with bow and arrow, destined to become a fable?
Would they smile at the restless child who set down roots to grow
To write and read, to build and shape, to plant and reap and sow?

If these stones could whisper, what chronicles would they recount?
Would it be the rebellious years, when teen-Man sought to spread his wings
Those tempestuous times of selfish pride, of war and slaves and kings?
Or is the memory still fresh with more recent tragic days
When naïve young adult siblings chose the path of separate ways?

If these stones could whisper, what stories would they share?
Would it be of island tales, of untamed wilds and virgin sand
Of merchants from across the bay who scavenged rocks and mined the land?
What of disfigured outcasts to whom the world was blind
Quarantined for their unsightliness, disowned by their own kind?

If these stones could whisper, what memories would haunt them still?
Would it be of humans in cages, accused of heinous crime
Or justice vigilantes condemned to blinding quarries of lime?
How painful the sight of jailors with minds under lock and key?
How hopeful the salve of forgiveness, the long walk to make them free?

If these stones could whisper, what triumph would they exclaim?
Would it be of a brand new dawn, when the island became a bridge
A sanctuary, a learning place, for the world an inspiring image?
The stones echo with silence, mute with wisdom that time beget
But if these stones could whisper, they’d say: always forgive, never forget

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Wild Africa

I. Awareness

Africa wakes up, hungry
She prowls in packs and preys
She wakes up wild and wary
And hides in herds to graze

Lurking low, Africa waits
She leaps out with surprise
She sets her traps for bait
And casts her dewy eyes

Africa takes off, soaring
She rides on wings and prayer
She tweets and hoots, imploring
And swoops down from the air

Lying still, Africa blinks
She twitches in her manger
She shuts one eye and thinks
She listens out for danger

II. Renewal

Baking sun and bright blue skies
Tinder sparks to flame
Blazing grass and fearful eyes
Of creatures wild and tame

Thunderbolts and flashing cloud
Torrential rain and flood
Quenching pools and splashing shroud
Roll-playing in the mud

Pitter-drops and patter-sounds
Amidst the mist and showers
Blossom-bursts and splatter-grounds
All painted bright with flowers

Mating calls in season’s heat
New playgrounds for the young
Rhyming with new reason’s beat
Fun frolics in the sun

III. Diversity

Africa, stretching far and wide
Herds migrate with season’s tide
Hippos snort, crocs lie in wait
Most survive, some meet their fate

Africa, living wild and free
Monkeys swing from tree to tree
Warthogs squeal and lions roar
Dolphins leap and eagles soar

Africa, teeming great and small
Lank giraffes and bugs that crawl
Zebras mix with wildebeest
Hyenas laugh while vultures feast

Africa, joining earth and sky
Gorillas nest and springboks fly
Elephants rumble, wise as sages
Life joins life across the ages

IV. Freedom

Rising from the dusty plain
With hope in every burst of rain
This land of everlasting strife
This Africa, our source of life

Breaking out of rusty chains
With wildness flowing in her veins
This land where all creation roam
This Africa, our common home

Reaching out across the years
With echoed genes and veils of tears
This land of skulls and mystery
This Africa, our history

Forever feral, never tamed
With restless destiny unnamed
This land of the eternal child
This Africa, forever wild

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

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Africa

Gondwana
Born of Pangaea
When separation first started
Like a unicell dividing

Africa
Spilt from India
And from America parted
Cut adrift and subsiding

Birthplace
Of all humankind
Whose seed has been scattered
Far from the Ma tree

Darkspace
That light left behind
From progress that mattered
In the quest to be free

Battleground
Of tribe against tribe
Whose rivers of tears
Still bloodstain the sand

Whispersound
Of fate’s changing tide
As hope’s rising years
Unify this great land

Wayne Visser © 2017

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

Share

I Am An African

I am an African
Not because I was born there
But because my heart beats with Africa’s
I am an African
Not because my skin is black
But because my mind is engaged by Africa
I am an African
Not because I live on its soil
But because my soul is at home in Africa

When Africa weeps for her children
My cheeks are stained with tears
When Africa honours her elders
My head is bowed in respect
When Africa mourns for her victims
My hands are joined in prayer
When Africa celebrates her triumphs
My feet are alive with dancing

I am an African
For her blue skies take my breath away
And my hope for the future is bright
I am an African
For her people greet me as family
And teach me the meaning of community
I am an African
For her wildness quenches my spirit
And brings me closer to the source of life

When the music of Africa beats in the wind
My blood pulses to its rhythm
And I become the essence of sound
When the colours of Africa dazzle in the sun
My senses drink in its rainbow
And I become the palette of nature
When the stories of Africa echo round the fire
My feet walk in its pathways
And I become the footprints of history

I am an African
Because she is the cradle of our birth
And nurtures an ancient wisdom
I am an African
Because she lives in the world’s shadow
And bursts with a radiant luminosity
I am an African
Because she is the land of tomorrow
And I recognise her gifts as sacred

Wayne Visser © 2005

Videos

Words and Music

Words of the poem, set to music by Hans Zimmer from The Power of One

Author Reading

The poem read by the author

Literacy Project

Kids from Upendo Middle Primary School in Usa River Tanzania read the poem. Upendo Middle Primary recently received 60 Kindle E-readers as Worldreader’s first e-reader project in Tanzania. A partnership between AfricAid and Thanks Be to God Foundation helped make this project a success.

Book

I Am An African: Favourite Africa Poems

This creative collection, now in its 5th edition, brings together Africa poems by Wayne Visser, including the ever popular “I Am An African”, as well as old favourites like “Women of Africa”, “I Know A Place in Africa”, “Prayer for Africa” and “African Dream”. The anthology celebrates the luminous continent and its rainbow people. The updated 5th Edition includes new poems like “Africa Untamed” and “Land of the Sun”. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

Share