Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Axum's Mothers Speak

"Our wombs cry for our sons,

Where are the flowers of our lives, Kaleb?

Why have you pinned down our love
To rust in a scavenging day?
Where are our men, Kaleb?

Why have you hung our womb to dry
Beyond the darkness of time?
Our breasts hurt, demanding
What visitation ravaged our essence.
The sleepless spirits
Accuse our thoughts, Kaleb.

The season of mothers
Question our dreamless nights.
Our wombs cry for our sons,
Our feet fret for their sight.

Where are the flowers of our lives, Kaleb?"

This is the 'Mothers' Chorus' in the play 'Collision of Altars' written by Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin and published in 1977.

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin wrote this historical play set in the Axumite empire at the time of Kaleb, the famous emperor of Axum - he is known as Ella-Asbeha (transposed by inebriated Greeks as 'Hellestheaeus'.... talk about slurping...)

Kaleb is reported to have gone into Yemen several times to try to recover his lost territory there. Every attempt met with a smarting failure and this is a cry from the women who lost all, sons to husbands to brothers, begging a reason for their loss, another sacrificed generation.

It's a chorus written by Tsegaye of course. Beautiful. It's a timeless cry that can be spoken by so many across nations, a call to plea-deaf leaders who fight wars in absentia to anoint their waning-phallic prides with. History is no fool, it recognises them for the paper-proxy-generals they are, heads of never-thanked armies, strong only as long as their people's blind love and resigned trust last.

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