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Living in a woman’s body: Mama’s War – an original poem

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

In her latest work, the South African actor and writer Lebogang Mashile tackles the exploitation and sexism faced by Black women

Mama’s War

Mama’s gone viral Mama’s screen shuffles faster Than hashtags invented by Black women Who turn tech into culture daily Boardrooms and bedrooms are battlefields What’s today’s share price for Mama Mama’s the only profitable stock Mama’s baby is five years old, mining coltan in Congo Mama’s foster children’s root chakras never healed Mama’s who George Floyd called out to When home is a dangerous place How does Mama lockdown?

They pushed Mama into government for the numbers Mama’s a brand ambassador with diplomatic impunity Mama’s on the evening news talking like a man now Mama calls it power moves Mama’s war is the ocean The refuse in Mama’s belly The money in Mama’s mouth The melting ice caps releasing variants Mama’s heating up Mama’s a pissed off hellscape Mama’s asking what do you do when a child star explodes? Mama’s last born is on YouTube suckling data To feed the family

Mama wonders why bell hooks never saw 70 and how Winnie couldn’t live at least as long as Nelson Mama is Shailja Patel, Assata Shakur, Stella Nyanzi, and Mona Eltahawy writing on the edge of the blade Mama plays hopscotch on national borders Mama is ungovernable terrain Mama is death’s favourite lover Mama is Henrietta Lacks’s blood in vaccines they won’t share Mama’s comorbidities are 4C hair, commodified fertility, and soil so rich Mama can’t own it Mama’s working extra shifts to buy herself back Mama’s in her overdraft paying antiBlack tax Mama’s talking to the therapist in her mind About Auschwitz, Amazon and Palestine Mama’s work keeps everyone alive But they won’t call Mama a genius They made Mama famous And acted like it was a substitute For being free

Atlas, what do you know About carrying the world Mama’s war makes Myths out of men Life from man’s rib Lies from men’s pens So that we would never gaze Into Mama And call her God

Lebogang Mashile is an actor, writer and poet

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