Happy birthday, Mazisi Kunene!

Photo of Mazisi Kunene from http://www.pslweb.org/images/content/pagebuilder/16816.jpgMazisi Raymond Kunene was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1930 [12th of May]. He graduated from the University of Natal with a paper on traditional and modern Zulu poetry. In 1959 he obtained a grant to complete his doctoral dissertation in London.

From this point on Kunene dedicated himself to the struggle for freedom of African countries. He worked for institutions such as the Afro-Asian Writers Committee and founded the South African Vocational Programme for refugees in Tanzania and Zambia.

In 1966 he was officially banned from his home country along with 45 other authors. He was one of the founding members of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and became Chief Representative for the African National Congress in Europe and USA in 1962.

Kunene received support from notables such as Picasso, Chagall, Giacometti, Moore and Rauschenberg when he established the South African Exhibition Appeal in 1972.

Was I wrong

Was I wrong when I thought
All shall be avenged?
Was I wrong when I thought
The rope of iron holding the neck of young bulls
Shall be avenged?
Was I wrong
When I thought the orphans of sulphur
Shall rise from the ocean?
Was I depraved when I thought there need not be love,
There need not be forgiveness, there need not be progress,
There need not be goodness on the earth,
There need not be towns of skeletons,
Sending messages of elephants to the moon?
Was I wrong to laugh asphyxiated ecstasy
When the sea rose like quicklime
When the ashes on ashes were blown by the wind
When the infant sword was left alone on the hill top?
Was I wrong to erect monuments of blood?
Was I wrong to avenge the pillage of Caesar?
Was I wrong? Was I wrong?
Was I wrong to ignite the earth
And dance above the stars
Watching Europe burn with its civilisation of fire,
Watching America disintegrate with its gods of steel,
Watching the persecutors of mankind turn into dust
Was I wrong? Was I wrong?
© Mazisi Kunene