Now that Madiba is dead – by M Thandabantu Iverson

 
now that Madiba is dead…
beware the icon makers
they will say he was great
they will laud his calls for peace
they will wring their hands and cry
speaking only of the man disregarding the people…
 
explaining away the movement
pretending the revolution was won
they will deny their guilt
denying their privilege
obscuring his birth
in the pains and the blood of his people
denying the capital crimes of neoliberal friends of apartheid still alive
 
now that Mandela is dead
they will say no one else will come
they will wink that we still organize
they will pretend that de Klerk was his friend
they will ignore the birth pangs in Jo’burg today
pretending to honor him with deceitful silence
in the face of Capetown shanties and Manenburg misery
and Durban oppression
while former murderers still prey and bougie negros still play
while lying bishops still pray
and corporations still rape
and the people in South Africa still die
like people across the Global South
as the Revolution dies
as Madiba’s children live in squalor
as the wine growers awake in shacks
as the homeless sleep beneath the floors of stores—after hours
when they will not be seen
while they are still being sold
 
beware the speakers of phrases
that lie they will disremember liberation struggles
that have yet to be won
they will pretend that Mandela belonged to them
denying the people to whom he belonged
 
remember to remember Chris Hani
remember to remember Robben Island
remember to remember the South African Charter
remember to remember that icons created by oppressors
will never liberate the people
 
remember to remember that they are still killing Martin
remember to remember that they are still killing Malcolm
remember to remember that Assata still lives
remember to remember that our liberation will be sold to us for profits
unless we work for it with our minds and our actions
 
then we will remember Mandela as he was
for he will live inside us
and the lies will no longer deceive
because the struggle will continue
and the last will be first at last
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