Thursday, 10 September 2015

Oh Africa !

This particular poem was not written this morning but thirteen long years ago on my first visit to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It is my first piece of writing on African soil and all I had written till then was a few stories in third and fourth grade in school, school and junior college essays and my M.Phil thesis, which was more factual than creative ! I wrote this when I had been in Africa for a mere three weeks but then, there certainly IS something about this land that compels you to write. Just ask Ernest Hemingway and the countless authors who have produced best sellers after having visited or lived in this vast continent. I had a little four year old daughter playing by my side when I penned this and my son wasn't even thought of !
This year we have completed ten whole years of living in Africa (we had a three year stint in India in between, hence it has been thirteen years since I first put foot on this continent) and so I am sharing the poem as a tribute to this land which has been so kind to us. I am reproducing it from memory as my original copy is locked up in my cupboard at home in Pune. I hope I've got it right! Today, in the cool, crisp Nairobi air, my sentiments remain the same as they were on a hot, muggy morning in Dar so long ago...

 Oh Africa !

Oh Africa, you are beautiful,
Warm, wild and wonderful,
Untamed, dark and bountiful!
Land of forests, mountains ,deserts, plains, valleys too,
Whatever God created, He gifted you!

Here came David Livingstone,
Changing the African equation.
It must have been, I presume, quite a sight,
When, for the first time, Black met White.
Then began colonial rule,
And African children started school.

Land of snakes and of great lakes,
Land of the Nile and of the crocodile.
Land where the Masai their cattle herd,
Land of lion and of leopard.
Your wild life you have preserved,
The evidence lies in your game reserves.

Land of the Pyramids and of Kilimanjaro,
Today your cup is full of sorrow.
Poverty, corruption, HIV and malaria abound,
Where, once, Louis Leakey hand axes found!

Land of diamonds and the Tanzanite,
Awake, arise, fight with all your might.
Use the resources which to you do belong,
And, one day, other nations to you for aid will throng!

*Dr.David Livingstone was a pioneer European explorer who came to Africa.
**Dr.Louis Leakey was a famous archaeologist who did extensive excavation work in East Africa. Hand axes are stone tools made by early humans.

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