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Dear Tambudzai

Written in honour of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s delivery of the 7th Annual Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Lecture on 27 October 2020.

Dear Tambudzai,

The men and women returned home

But they never came back from the


There is no pension plan for


No 12-step programme for families

Turned to rubble

No one told the heroes that there are Crumbs

So big they fill up buildings in Dubai, Ships, planes, and the insatiable


Of the mined and milked Earth

The only place Nehanda could keep


From her captors was the long

Corridor of

Dreams in her mind

Our heroes gleam from black and

White photographs stamped in your Mouth, Tambudzai

When we believed they stood for us

The day after Chimurenga

The day after Lancaster House

When Nehanda saw them she saw


Behind them

We believed they saw us too

Power is a two way mirror

It pulls out who you know yourself to


The bones of Gukurahundi, Marikana, And AIDS babies are dancing, Tambudzai

They knew you before you knew


When you said you are not a good girl

The bones grew spines of their own,

Branches and leaves

They hold on to every rebel who has Watched the collision of two worlds Give birth to a border child

Your country was once named

For a genocidal genius

His statue fell but his company didn’t

There remains a price on all of our heads

If you have loved a place that does not Know how to love you back

You are an activist

Tambudzai, there is no home for those Who love their countries enough

To change their countries

There are prisons and footprints

Across nations like O.R.’s

There is art where we make ourselves Anew

The vision chiseled in the eye of the Sculptor

The streets fed and healed by mothers

The post-colonial web of diplomacy/ Armed struggle/ capitalism/ Democracy/ kleptocracy/ and state Violence

If the state is failing now

Then tell us when it has succeeded

Your daughters have been coming, Tambudzai

They are here

Burning on digital stakes


Belting out,

We don’t know how to wait anymore

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