September 1, 2016

A poem by Deena Padayachee: "Injustice."

Deena Padayachee lives in Durban, South Africa. He is the author of a book of resistance prose poems, "A Voice from the Cauldron," which was published in 1987. His poems have been performed by the Natal Performing Arts Council and have been published in several international journals and the poetry anthologies. He has also won awards for his short stories.

This is the first time his poem, "Injustice," has ever been published. He wrote it in 1977 after anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko died during interrogation by South African police. "It was a dangerous poem to write at the time as it accused the Apartheid legal system of being unjust," Padayachee says. "It is the kind of poem that is still hated by those who love racism and apartheid."



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Injustice

To take away a citizens' homes
Because of their race,
And do this in the name of the Law,
In the name of all that is supposed to be noble and good and civilised.

To separate South Africans from those whom they love
For reasons of genotype
And do this with the decrees of parliament,
Police, law courts, lawyers, magistrates and judges.

To hurt, humiliate and murder
And do this with the sacred trappings of institution and state,
With citizens' taxes, complex thoughts and the citizens' wisdom.

With Homo Sapien's greatest aspirations to morality and humanity,
You create destruction, misery and death,
for even the poorest of the poor.

With your hand
On the great power that flows
From intelligence, insight
and people's strength,
From Homo Sapien's creativity,
You manufacture deliberately,
Our Hell.
Yet you give all this torment some kind of sanctimonious rectitude.

You try to camouflage your Evil
with high-sounding words, names, uniforms, labels,
government departments, thick documents, religious perfidy,
Greco-Roman buildings and Age.

You cannot hide what you do to us.
Nothing can make it moral, ethical or correct.
I have but one life,
And if I can use it so that our children
Are less humiliated, scalded, scarred, excoriated and crushed
by the power of the state or its institutions
or some man-made evil...

I WILL.


~Deena Padayachee


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