Egoli – City of Gold


Mbizo Chirasha

Art by Lebohang Kganye


We walked on mats of death, death killed Soweto in 1976
Death and stray bullets killed dozens during (umvukela) / struggle for liberation
Madiba slept on mats of pricking roses until the count of twenty-seven calendars was over / today his legacy is sealed underneath the red-black clay anthills of Qunu
Prison bells, leg-irons, handcuffs and tear gas castrated radicals and their iron-balls
The City of Gold was born from the sweat of freedom cadres, their tears watered the tree
of revolution, apartheid ate breakfast of hate, drank the blood juice of segregation,
Egoli, grandfathers bones are singing in deserted Kimberly mine shafts
Egoli, black boy’s spirits are lingering in the bowels of old gold mines
Egoli, tonight Xenophobia burnt the fingers of the president,
Xenophobia swallowed the freedom of Naija, Zimbos, and Moza kindreds

Mandela is not dead, his prison-tired spirit is walking another long walk to freedom
Sisulu left the footprints of the revolution on Randburg banknotes,
Luthuli left his fingerprints on the ANC rainbow flag,
Come Bantu Biko, Sing the song of Umkhonto Wesizwe, and wield the spear of nation
Sing to the bones of Amaqhawe Esizwe, sing to the spirit of the communist radical Chris Hani
Read the communist manifesto to the dead comrades / cadres that their bones will rise again to fight for another freedom / this freedom is not freedom
Let them rise / to water the earth of freedom with legacy of sacrifice / sacrifice to the revolution of the people


Egoli, the earthly hut doused by the cries of children born out of bellies of war
Egoli, the golden heart eaten to tatters by termites of segregation, Egoli
Egoli, the moral sheep that learnt the art of turncoats, the moral sheep becomes a black jackal, Egoli, the intestines of your earth are gold / lungs of your earth are diamond
The liver of your soil is platinum / spine of your earth is copper / the saliva of your earth is lithium / the mucus of your soil is coal
Egoli / your mothers are weeping tears of poverty inside township hovels
Egoli / your daughters are sweating hunger in black townships
Egoli / your sons are shitting dysentery between the rotten buttocks of the city
Egoli / your fathers are drinking street-brewed crank unto the scrotum of the town
Egoli / xenophobia is the anthem of the city, poverty is your early morning prayer to silent heavens / disease is the daily cough throttling the lungs of your earth / segregation is the cancer eating the abdomen of your city, Egoli

I thought black Africa is one and black Africans are one,
I see shallow graves of grandchildren of Nehanda in the belly of your city
I see burnt bodies of sons / daughters of Naijaland / Rise Achebe and sing Things Fall Apart
To the scarred, machete-mutilated bodies of Xenophobia, where is Soyinka and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Let them sing the Lion and Jewel / Let them sing Half of a Yellow Sun / We need more new songs / songs that sing against the new cousin-grandchild of apartheid, his crude name is Xenophobia / xenophobia the new totem of the rainbow nation / Chris Hani is turning in his grave / Xenophobia is the short distant brother of neocolonialism / blood son of apartheid / the generational grandson of imperialism / capitalism / colonialism


Black Africa you ate the bitter berries of triangular slave trade / and you shat colonial diarrhea / you suffered flogging / you cried the death of heroes and African giants / black Africa you watered millet plantations with your blood / black Africa you wetted sugar plantations with your sweat / black Africa, you watered barley fields with your tears / black Africa / TrinidadandTobago / blackafrica / naragagua / blackafrica / belize / blackafrica / Haiti / blackafrica / goree island / black Africa
Azania is your totem / Tanganyika your birthright / madzimbabwe is the land of your ancestors-- Murenga / Chaminuka / Gumboreshumba / Sororenzou
Black Africa / Ghana is your freedom / gold coast is your colonial nickname
Bring back the beginning


Spring / Summer 2024

Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo Chirasha is the founder / executive curator of the Writing Ukraine Prize (2022–23). He is a poet, essayist, creative director of Poetry People International Festival-Limassol, and a UNESCO-RILA affiliate artist (University of Glasgow, School of Education, Scotland). Other activities and honors include resident curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, recipient of 2020 IHRAF LIVE DIRECT AWARD, 2020 free-speech fellow at PEN-Germany Writers in Exile Program, resident coordinator at All Africa Live Poetry Symposium, festival poet at Poesia de Medellin (Colombia), and guest writer at University of Glasgow Creative Writing Programme.

Lebohang Kganye

Lebohang Kganye (b. 1990, Katlehong, South Africa) lives and works in Johannesburg. She obtained a diploma in fine arts from the University of Johannesburg and is currently completing her MFA at Witwatersrand University. Kganye was one of three artists selected to represent South Africa in the 59th Venice Biennale. Her solo exhibition of newly commissioned works, Shall you Return Everything, but the Burden, was recently presented at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne (2023). Notable awards include the Camera Austria Award (2019) and the Foam Paul Huf Award (2022). Her first survey exhibition in Europe, Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home, was held at Foam, Amsterdam.

support evergreen