FOR THE THIRD WORLD

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Oh my island, half asleep and so restless on the sea.
And suddenly from the points of danger
history makes the sign I had been waiting for.
I see nations sprouting, red and green and I greet you.
Banners, throats filled with ancient air.
Mali, Guinea, Ghana.

And I see you, men
not at all clumsy under this new sun.

Listen, from my distant island from my brooding island,
I call out to you—Ho.
And your voices answer me
and what they say means: the day is bright.
And it is true even through storms and night
the day is bright for you.

From here, I see Kivu descend towards Tanganyika by the silver stairway of Ruzuzi
(a big girl at each step
bathing the night with the rustling of her hair).

From here I see, knotted together Benoue, Logone, Tchad:
Bound together Senegal and Niger from here,
I hear the Nyaragongo roaring.

Hatred.
Empty noise, leavings of the hyena, under a stiff wind, we were all covered with bruises.
I have seen the slavers’ jaws growing smaller.

I see Africa, multiple and one
vertical in the thunderstorm’s change of fortune with its swellings and nodules, slightly apart, but within reach of the century, like a heart in reserve.
And again I say,
Oh mother and 1 raise up my strength

bowing down my face.
O my land.

Let me crumble it gently between thumb and forefinger
Let me rub my chest with it, my arms, my left arm
and let me caress my right arm with it.

Ho, my earth is good
Your voice also is good

It has the appeasing power of a sunset.

Land forge granary. Land showing the way.
It is here a truth is found, light eclipsing the cruel old artificial gold.

See, Africa is no longer in the diamond of misery
a black heart breaking.

Our Africa is a hand out of a gaunlet, it is a straight hand, palm outwards, fingers tightly pressed together.

It is a swollen hand
a wounded open hand held out,
brown, yellow, white

to all the hands, the wounded hands of the world.

(Translated from the French by G. R. Coulthard)