Live poetry reading – Sista Zai God is a Black Woman (podcast)

I carry many stories on my head.
Chapters and chapters of history. Chapters and chapters of lives lie
resting right here encoded in the tight spirals of my hair. My mother always beams as she loudly announces you, you have your father’s
hair. Yes indeed. This hair is super thick and fast growing, used to be jet-black
tight curls, yes indeed the length and thickness that rare double blessing
crowns the head of this beloved African daughter. When loosed (this is when I had
an afro). When loosed my halo of light tight curls pay homage to Banto
ancestors. People who journeyed east west and south from Egypt and Sudan – to as far
as Ghana and Zimbabwe from the cradle of civilization to the playground of
civilization. My father’s people journeyed to settle in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South
Africa. There these Bantus built many many kingdoms, dynasties and trading
empires headed by queens and kings who ruled out of sacred cities built out of
sacred rock in sacred places. This thick tight curled afro hair is a homage to
bantu – in Africa, the sacred, my shrine. I carry many stories on my head.
Chapters upon chapters of lives lie resting right here, encoded in the tight
spirals of my hair. Yes tight curled afro hair spirals and grows
thick but that’s only at the center of my head. At the nape of my neck just like
the southern and eastern seaboard of Africa, there the texture of my hair
reveals much more of a mystery. There lies a chapter shut off by his story. A his
story of policies promoting racial segregation colorism and color grading
legislated black white brown housing zones leading to the fear of
lighter-skinned babies being snatched from darker skinned mothers and there at
the nape of my head, looser curls suddenly burst forth. When she touches
this part of my head, my mother whispers feels softer like baby hair, grows a little
slower too – do you know that your grandmother my grandmother had wavy hair not curls, not spirals. Wavy hair. You know the kind of hair that Malays have. Your
great-grandmother had soft Indian hair. She was so ashamed of it. She never let
anyone see it. She always cut it short. She never let
it grow, but she had the most beautiful hair and so silenced buried deep in a
grave that chapter too rests encoded in the tight spirals atop my head. I
carry many many stories on my head. Chapters and chapters of history.
Chapters, chapters of lives lie resting right here encoded in the tight spirals
of my hair. As I dig around in this family history a chapter of waves
continues to haunt me as I try to cover the gap that oral family histories
gloss over. But in books I read of southern Indians
who sailed over the Indian Ocean seeking out a thriving living through trade and
spice, gold and ivory; of Indian and Arab traders who married into African
households to secure a trading partner and the trade route. Of slaves marketed
in Kenyan Zanzibar to end up in the Middle East and Asia. Of European sailors
jumping ship in Madagascar, Mauritius and in my mind’s romantic Isle
I feel there is a story of a great great grandparent an Indian or a Malay man who
sailed over to Africa in a Dhow and fell for an African princess. I carry many
stories on my head chapters and chapters of lives lie
resting right here encoded in the tight spirals of my hair. Thank you. Ocoll rejects the old type. He’s in love with a modern woman. He’s in love with a beautiful girl
who speaks in English. Ocoll is no longer in love with the old type. He’s in
love with a modern girl. The name of the beautiful one is Clementine. Brother when
you see Clementine the beautiful one aspires to look like a white woman. Her
lips are red hot like glowing charcoal. She resembles the wild cat that has
dipped its mouth and blood. Her mouth is like raw yaws. It looks like an open
ulcer like the mouth of a field. Tina dusts powder on her face and it looks so
pale. She resembles the wizard getting ready for the midnight dance. She dusts
the ash dirt all over her face. When a little sweat begins to appear on her body she
looks like the guinea fowl and she believes that this is beautiful because
it resembles the face of a white woman. Her body resembles the ugly coat of a
hyena. Her neck and arms have real human skin. She looks as if she has been struck by lightning. Forgive me brother.
Do not think I am insulting the woman with whom I share my husband. Do not
think my tongue has being sharpened by jealousy. It is the sight of Tina that
provokes sympathy in my heart. I do not deny I’m a little jealous. There’s no good lying. We all suffer from a little jealousy. It catches you
unawares like the ghosts that bring fevers. It surprises people like earth
tremors. I’m not unfair to my husband. I do not
complain because he wants another woman. Whether she is young or aged who has
prevented men from wanting women? Who has discovered the medicine for thirst? The
medicines for hunger and anger and enmity who has discovered them? In the
dry season, the sun shines and rain falls in the wet season. Women hunt for men
and men hunt for women. But when you see the beautiful woman with whom I share my
husband you feel a little pity for her. The woman with whom I share my husband walks as if her shadow has been captured. She looks as if she has been ill for a
long time. Actually she is starving. She does not eat. She fears getting fat that
the doctor has prevented her from eating. She says a beautiful woman must be slim
like a white woman but my husband despises me. He laughs at me. He says he
is too good to be my husband. OCall says he is not the age mate of my
grandfather to live with someone like me. When the beautiful one with whom I share
my husband returns from cooking her hair she resembles a chicken that has fallen
into a pond. Her hair looks like a python’s discarded skin. My husband tells
me I have no ideas of modern beauty. Ask me what beauty is to be a Kohli. I will
tell you I will show it to you if you give me a chance. Listen. Ostrich plumes
differ from chicken feathers and his tail is different from a giraffe. The
crocodile skin is not the guinea fowl’s and the hippo is naked and hairless. Ocall my friend look at my skin. It is smooth and black
and my boyfriend who plays the manga sings praises to it. I am proud of the
hair with which I was born, as no white woman wishes to do her hair like mine
because she is proud of the hair with which she was born. I have no wish to
look like a white woman. No leopard would change into a hyena and the crested
crane would hate to be changed into the bald-headed vulture. The long necked and
graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey. She told me and he told me not to be
political. We don’t want anything political here ok. I nodded and in
my heart I felt despondent because you see no my writing is not political. My
writing is my truth. My writing is life seen through a sister’s eye as in Sista Zai. See? I see nothing written here but the truth of where I’ve been and what I’ve
seen. Where I’ve been with these two feet of mine and a heart born to shine.
And truth is, truth hurts but that’s no reason to reject reality and hide
from fact in an act in a play called nothing political. Truth is I live in a
politicized body; a body forced to accommodate hurt. Truth is I live in a
politicized body. A body edged with meaning I didn’t sketch or go out seeking. Truth is I live in a politicized body. Black
skin, afro and mouth curled around chapters of history purposefully hidden; kidnapped; disappeared; missing. Chapters of history purposefully
hidden; kidnapped; disappeared; missing. I live, I move around in black skin
branded with meaning I played no part in creating. I live and move around in black
skin in the world taught to shoot on sighting. So I’m always left wondering if
this time I’ll be shot down; shut down; shut up, or if I’ll be let in just the way I am. In this black skin. I live I move around
in black skin, so I’m constantly wondering if this time I’ll be letting
just as I am in this black skin or will I be forced to engage in another sit-in?
That is, if I’ve got the strength to keep moving through this bullshit. Shit storm.
So no my writing is not political except I live in this skin that’s caused
revolution and counter-revolution. Come on. Are we still dreaming after civil rights? After apartheid? after decolonization? I
still live in a politicized body that is now written into the laws of popular
culture as some part human and rest part animal. You don’t believe me turn on your
television as it tells lies to your vision about the black woman. Hold her
down it says. Have your way it says. Advertised as the mule of the world
we’re told that if she is stubborn just give her a kick and command her to get
down on her knees and lick your… hmmm sick. No my writing is not political but my body
is the site of the most radical. You see I had aunts whisper in my ear about the
sacredness of my sex. Did you hear? I said I had aunts whisper in my ear about the
sacredness of my sex. I’m not talking about some Hail Mary virgin birth. I’m
talking about sex. Lovemaking with the intent to heal and birth. Love that bathes
lovers in the unashamed gush of my healing waters. That’s the sacredness of
my sex. My black pussy ought to remind you of the original black pussy that
birthed a world of seven billion and more. Lick it. I dare you. Taste the origins
of your life on my lips and I bet you will bow down to the sacredness of my
sex. God your creator, our creator is a black woman. God is a black woman
carrying world’s between her legs at the soft, warm meeting of strong thighs. God is
a black woman carrying life in bellies and feeding life with breasts full of
sweet milk. Suck on this truth I dare you. Suck. God is a black woman but we don’t know this goddess divine, black, divine because
we’ve been brainwashed to fear God. Brainwashed to see God as an angry old
man hell-bent on punishing us disciplining us always fucking watching
us. But that’s not love. My god is love. My god is a black woman who dances wild,
eats big, laughs hearty. Truth is God is a black woman. Thank you thank you. So that piece has
been I’ve been working with a producer a dub reggae producer because I love
reggae and I love dub so you can you can find that on my soundcloud like a rough
version of the final mix of God is a Black Woman I’m just thinking of my mom
listening to it uh so um I thought maybe I’ll do one last piece and I’ve got a
few of these here as well if anybody would like some. I’d originally made this
sneak peek because I was like just trying to get a little extra cash in the
bank account to take to Denmark but if anybody likes what they’ve heard this is
some of my old stuff so just come and get it and you can get all my contact
details in there. This one’s called Co Club and I’ll I’ll perform it for you
it’s an old favourite. Yesterday I fell in love with a river red gum 400 year old Nobby scarred, scratched smooth bark silver red river gum with old boughs that reach out crooked but
wise extending a little to the left and then to the right
but always upward to the sky and she showered me with love so intense. I had to grasp so
powerful I felt sucked right into the heart of
her right into the delcate willing heart of us. You are so beautiful Mama, river red gum. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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