MAILBOX: An African ‘kicked out of Africa’: a departed Saffa’s heartbreak

The valiant vulnerability demonstrated in this anonymous South African poem will undoubtedly speak to the affliction carried by countless South Africans. So often, those South Africans who have made the decision to depart our dear country will go on to vehemently report their decision to do so was unquestionably correct. Their message – usually extended with a laundry list of everything that they do not miss, everything that they no longer need to concern themselves with – is, while realistic, almost too overt. Notwithstanding the very real advantages they enjoy elsewhere, it is hard not to wonder whether they, perhaps, are so persistent in their advocacy of emigration because any deviation therefrom would be too painful. While the author of this poem is anonymous, the heartbreak felt by him or her over leaving South Africa is clearly identifiable. – Nadya Swart

An Anonymous South African Poem – A Heartbreaking Saffa Read #ThisIsUs

Dear South Africa with love …

I cried for you today – as I have done many times

As the tears spilled down my cheeks,

I thought of your skies and wild plains


I felt your drum beat and heard your lions roar

I heard the summer crickets kritty clicking the click click song


I thought of your warm smiles and open hearts and mothers with children they carried on their backs

And our childhood companions,

brothers and sisters from different mothers who we knew before they taught you to hate, before we knew what different colours we were.


I thought of the African sunshine waking us up every morning

And how we thought we’d be in our home forever

Never imagining for one moment that we would leave of choice, of our own free will


I thought about how we braved ourselves thinking we would be fine elsewhere

And that Africa and its politics could go and hang for all we cared


And we moved away and boarded planes

And we set up basecamp in the far flung corners of the planet, away from home


And we smiled at the Canadian Newfie jokes

And we braaied our boerewors on Australian beaches


And we celebrated American independence day

And we froze our ass in the UK winters


And we were frowned upon with our raw meat eating habits by our pasty pie friends or vegan neighbours

And we learnt new slang and borrowed accents and other people’s cultures to fit in, to belong


But there’s a heart of an African that runs deeper

It’s unspoken and cannot be verbally explained


But it’s uncovered when one African finds another

It breathes life into the soul

No matter whether they be in China, Germany, Russia or Ireland


And as we find each other we lose each other in the mix of our different journeys

But still we can’t let go – that silent familiar echo calls below the surface


So we make batches of sticky koeksusters

And we dance to our Johnny Clegg scatterlings of Africa and Mango Groove’s special star to remember our humbled happiness and call each other Bru


But in the circle of life, the lion sleeps tonight

As we pour out the rooibos tea

And we realise we too have lost our colour…….


As our rainbow has slipped from us

We have become the world …. neutral in identity


No more do we slip into Xhosa, Zulu. Sindebele and Shona greetings and “Yebo Gogos” whenever we meet

And we remember we were not English, not Canadian, not Australian, nor French, nor American


No, we are Africans and we are too far away from home, kicked Out of Africa


Far from the lazy Limpopo, the thirsty Swellendam, the hearty Harties,

Far away from the mozies in our ears at night

And the fuk-are-we birds and the sexual Fish Eagles cries

Far away from the Kariba Sunset and Table Mountain views

No more black jacks in our socks or blue bottle stings on our thighs


No, we’re miles away from the roar of the mighty Bridal Falls and the Vaal that runs through us as blue as Blue Bulls in our veins, as surely as we migrated with the wildebeest, as we ran with the cheetah and chanted for the Springboks, through the rain and African lightening thunderstorms we were drenched with life


Happy with our aging young spirited parents sipping G&Ts and Whiskey on the rocks at the Lost City on the stoop of the Cabanas overlooking the thatched Lapas with the African Sunset and tribal Zulu dancers


And our hearts wept and broke when we realised that that was the last of our true freedom


And we know we are not okay after all – but ssssh voorentoe gaan ons voort


We were trapped in mundane and we had left our souls in the land of our birth. We have no Independence day to celebrate, we have no Labour Day to relate to or an anthem to save our gracious Queen


How I wish we had some heritage to celebrate but that too was taken away and erased from history


Our forefathers and visionaries are all gone

And our expectations have vanished in the dust of the years

Now all we can do is pray for deliverance, embrace other’s cultures as our own

And HOPE our memories last long enough for us to share them with our children and grand children


Those who will never know the inheritance and absolute beauty of Africa that we wanted to pass on to them

This will only live on in our stories and faded memories


And as we wipe away those tears and wonderful years

We give thanks for being fortunate and blessed to have experienced Africa


The summers with burnt tanned skins at the beaches and safaris through the bushveld. For the elephant’s matriarchal society nurtured us and taught us the values of life


I will never stop longing for peace in Africa


I pray for the starving children

And the brothers and sisters with AIDS

And the fathers who cannot save their families

And the mothers with babies dying in their arms


And in my dreams I return

Every night and walk where our foot prints have blown away

Although we are no longer there

You reside in our hearts, in our minds

In our identity – in our generation


For how can a heart forget


I haven’t lost my way, I just follow the rhythm of an old mislaid life map

Perhaps someday too I will return

But this is one of the greatest burdens the human heart carries


As every South African knows.


(I read this on Facebook, no author was listed, please contact [email protected])

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