Busi Mhlongo is one of the most powerful women I have met. She was a giant on stage. In 2000, very early in my poetry writing career, I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a poem her internationally acclaimed album Urbanzulu.
The Track itself is epic and seemed to call for and epic poem - on that was declamatory and rousing.
Poem by Zena Edwards©
There are problems in every home: Oh my people!
Family was the core of the heart's security and sense of belonging.
Can you now look to your neighbour for help
When the family pillar begins to chip and crumble? No!
They too wear a mask of strained false contentment
But cry for solutions to family troubles.
On the streets, people take the lives of others,
Yet you remain silent. What holds your tongue?
Your sisters and brothers across the borders, neighbours still,
Suffer tyranny, war, poverty and starvation,
Yet you close your eyes to their faces of woe,
Close your ears to their lamentations of suffering,
Turn your backs on their hell,
Only to face the worries and pain in your own house and homeland.
And where is your voice of intolerance to this reality?
Hear the cock crow the alarm for a new dawning!
Change is the only constant.
Open the gates of mercy in your wall of fear and anger
So the blossom of a compassion can bloom,
Feeding from the roots of courage.
In churches, keep preaching the truth.
In schools, keep instructing right knowledge.
At home, keep persevering through crises.
Leaders, sit and reason with the people and listen to their talk.
So let us unite and proclaim your right,
as the cock crows the alarm,
Claim your right in the family of mankind.
Lyrics by Busi Mhlongo©
Cock-a-doodle-doo! crows the cockerel.
Wake up, arise, my people, it's a new dawn.
Oh please, wake up! I see a crisis.
There's not one home without its problems.
You're keeping quiet - what have you to say?
I see a crisis.
There's not one home without its arguments.
Oh please wake up!