31 December 2018

Inside my Zulu hut, a poem by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

"Inside My Zulu Hut, by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali , b. 1940 in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, South Africa. Sounds of a Cowhide Drum (OUP 1971), with a foreword by Nadine Gordimer, established Mtshali as one of the new angry voices of black South Africa. His poem evoking his traditional Zulu childhood was written as he was working at menial jobs in Soweto, denied admission to the state university because of his race."

Inside my Zulu hut

It is a hive
without any bees
to build the walls
with golden bricks of honey.
A cave cluttered
with a millstone,
calabashes of sour milk
claypots of foaming beer
sleeping grass mats

wooden head rests
tanned goat skins
tied with riempies
to wattle rafters
blackened by the smoke
of kneaded cow dung
burning under
the three-legged pot
on the earthen floor
to cook my porridge.
© Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

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