Kunyenyeza Ezikhotheni (Voices In The Wilderness) by Duma Ndloru

BOMB 28 Summer 1989
028 Summer 1989

Kunyenyeza Ezikhotheni
(Voices in The Wilderness)

If you listen to the wind
you will hear voices in the wilderness
sounds of hunters going after the hunted
music of afrika’s creation
melodies and rhythms
whispering in the wilderness;
moods often darker than blue
crickets painting
the dark afrikan nights
with cricks and croaks
and amaxhosa’s click songs
and the gold mines
the sound of men
digging for the gold
singing songs that
only the night and their black skins
can understand
Abelungu ngo demu
basibiza ’bo jim**
but on the other side of town
the prime minister of south afrikakaka
hendrik verwoed
stands on top of a table
in the middle of a meeting
and asks his followers a question;
“People, what am I standing on?”
and they answer
in their faithful ignorance;
“you are standing on a table”
He looks at them in amazement
and screams;
“I am standing on the back
of a Blackman, remember that.”
and outside
the wind whispers to the frogs
who pass the message on
to the owls
who in turn growl it on
to the lions of the afrikan night
and their voices roar all over the jungle
abelungu ngo demu
basibiza ’bo jimu
If you listen to the wind
you will hear in clear tones
voices of the morning sun
whispering in silent echoes
no one has a monopoly on ignorance
no one has a monopoly on stupidity
no one has a monopoly on wickedness
abelungu ngodemu
If you talk to the wind
Tell her
it’s been a long time coming
and the children have sworn
and made promises to each other
told the bull ox to be careful
and not to let the sun set on him
“Wolibambe lingashoni!”
If you see the wind passing by
On her constant journeys
riding on the waves
carrying the voices of Afrika’s children
taking messages to desolate makotis
whose husbands left a few weeks after their weddings
because afterall umlungu’s gold does not wait for the
and umesisi’s weed
can always be plucked by wayward children
tell her that night has become day
and the moon has dissolved into sun
and the women have left their homes for the fields’
tears of children have fertilized the soil
and still freedom has yet to come
as we wait on promises
that we hope were never blown away
on her constant journeys to lands unknown
if you see the wind passing by.
tell her that
no one has a monopoly on god
                           on freedom
                           on justice
abelungu ngodemu
abelungu ngodemu
*voices in the wilderness
**goddamn whites call us goddamn names

Duma Ndloru is a poet and writer born in Soweto and now living in New York.

Two Poems by Keith Adams
Kunyenyeza Ezikhotheni (Voices In The Wilderness) by Duma Ndloru

Poem “Kunyenyeza Ezikhotheni (Voices In The Wilderness)” by Duma Ndloru—from the portfolio of African poetry.

Contextualizing the Repertoire: Julia Bullock Interviewed by Arya Roshanian
Headshot of classical singer Julia Bullock in front of an abstract painting.

On addressing systemic issues and creating access in the classical music industry.

Building a Bigger Table: Stefanie Batten Bland Interviewed by Rachel Stone
Five performers surround a long table with a white female dancer sitting on top of the table, her arm outstretched.

Interrogating constructed behaviors of intimacy.

Originally published in

BOMB 28, Summer 1989

Featuring interviews with Patrick McGrath, Craig Lucas, Mary Ellen Mark, Isabel Toledo, Guy Gallo, Gary Indiana, David Kapp, Bobbie Ann Mason, Roland Legiardi-Laura, John Ford Noonan, Roni Horn, and Richard Edson.

Read the issue
028 Summer 1989