Regional Programs > Africa > Next Story

Mavis Smallberg

For Garth and Robbie
and the Sons of Table Mountain

He made a music bow that
the Khoi and San had played;
and in the playing of it, evoked
the spirit of an ancient people.

I see them runnlng across the vlei.
over the hills, runnlng. Always running.
First they ran to hunt the elephant.
Then they ran to save their lives.

Now we are running from ourselves.

The music soared, wailed, crooned, picked out
the rhythm of our dormant hearts;
cracked out a sudden, urgent warning:
Shake the sand out from your ears;

You are the sons and daughters
of a mountain, born from the earth,
adjusted to the seasons,
capable of travelling with the stars.

I watched the sax bring out the moon,
the guitar sprinkled down the moon beams,
the bass opened up the pathway,
the drum drove the beating of insistent feet,
and the bow kept picking at our hearts.

Is ja!
That's us!

Kaleidoscoped from East and West,
We brighten with the ghoema beat
We've been searching all over *
but the light is here within ourselves.

Look! There's Oujoema! and Coree,
and Domoa and Eykamma!
Conjured up with music,
They are here, dancing with our souls.

Ah, ancestor man, we've got your style.

When the San bow played,
I recognized that thing inside us
fragile, tiny like the mantis
but growing all the time.

And then I felt Krotoa smile.

*Line from Robbie Jansen's song:

Where are you been?
I've been searching all over
Freedom, where are you hiding yourself? back

Mavis Smallberg is a core member of WEAVE. She was a testimony summary writer for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and is currently a member of the Robben island Museum's Heritage Department. Her work has been published in American, Dutch, and German publications, as well as in South African anthologies.