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Poem on Africa

In the centre of the earth – I stand –
Like a giant straddling the Equator
Land of warmth and vigour wide expanses,
A rich tapestry of colour.
My head in the north
I stretch my arms to the sides
My feet on the strong stormy seas
of the South Atlantic tides.
Ringed by a wall – a fortress to protect my people:
Deserts protect them in the west
Diseases in the hot, humid forests
Wild animals roam my plains and woodlands
Courageous, dauntless must be the foreigners
That seed to scale my walls
Hardy, intrepid is he who tries to enter my inner core
The vast heart of tropical Africa

I look to the EAST, to the rising Sun
To the warmth of the Indian Ocean
Its warm heaving waves
Roll on my sandy, palm-lined shores.
I look to India and Arabia
Whose trades visit me
I can hear the strains and chants of Oriental charm
To the shout of the bazaar.

I look to the WEST, to the sunset crest
The cold Atlantic hardens my skin
Old skeletons and forbidding rock remind
Me of the death of day
And in my boiling centre lurk
The crocodiles and swampy murk
Hostile, defensive; vicious attack

I look to the NORTH, to the calm blue sea
Of the Mediterranean
To the thoughts of great thinkers
The cradle of the mind
The powerful race for material gain.

I look to the SOUTH, to the primeval cold
The endless ocean
The deserts of land and sea
The southern lights of the whirling cross
The promise of life to come
From my feet, standing firm,
I gain my strength.

Anonymous

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Drought

Powder is the grass, burnt powder,
Mingled now with the dust from which it sprung;
Dead are the lilies in the veld-pans;
The veld-flowers have vanished.

Naked is the veld, scorched and naked,
Charred is its coat, once brave and green;
Naked to the sun’s lash it quivers -
A victim defenseless

FD Sinclair

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Africa

Africa, land of great contrast,
Africa, land of the sun,
Of courage and suffering and beauty,
Of struggles for everyone.

Where the desert, aching for water,
Shimmers in dust hope.
And the jungle, tangled and teeming,
Wrestles beneath the sun’s rays.

Where rivers, languid and lazy,
meander snake-like and slow
Or leap forth in breathless abandon
To plummeting rocks below.

Huge mountains, ancient, majestic
Watch o’er the endless plains
Where lion-fearing buck and buffalo graze
On the green of the summer rain.

On land of so many peoples -
Proud or laughing with fun,
Struggling like tropical flowers
Each for his place in the sun.

We must learn to love and to share,
God’s children we are everyone,
White, black and brown together,
Brothers, sisters under the sun.

Catherine van Alphen

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I know a place in Africa…

I know a place in Africa
Where I can feel the sun on my back
And the sand between my barefoot toes
Where I can hear the gulls on the breeze
And the waves crash on the endless shore

I know a place in Africa
Where the mountains touch the skies of blue
And the valleys shelter vines of green
Where the trees spread out a cloth of mauve
And the bushveld wears a coat of beige

I know a place in Africa
Where I can hear the voice of thunder gods
And watch their lightening spears thrown to earth
Where I can breathe the scent of rain clouds
And taste the sweet dew of dusty drops

This is the place of wildness
Of evolution and dinosaurs
Where life began and mankind first stood
Of living fossils and elephants
Where lions roar and springbok herds leap

This is the place of struggle
Of desert plains and thorn trees
Where pathways end and hunters track game
Of horizons and frontiers
Where journeys start and sunsets bleed red

This is the place of freedom
Of exploration and pioneers
Where darkness loomed and light saw us through
Of living legends and miracles
Where daybreak came and hope now shines bright

My heart is at home in Africa
Where the sound of drums beat in my chest
And the songs of time ring in my ears
Where the rainbow mist glows in my eyes
And the smiles of friends make me welcome

My mind is at ease in Africa
Where the people still live close to the soil
And the seasons mark my changing moods
Where the markets hustle with trading
And Creation keeps its own slow time

My soul is at peace in Africa
For her streams bring lifeblood to my veins
And her winds bring healing to my dreams
For when the tale of this land is told
Her destiny and mine are as one

© 2006 Wayne Visser

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Karoo Town, 1939

In a region of thunderstorm and drought,
Under an agate sky,
Where red sand whirlwinds wander through the summer,
Or thunder grows intimate with the plain, and rain
Is a great experience like birth or wonder:
By the half-dry river
The village is strung like a bead of life on the rail,
Along whose thread at intervals each day
Cones of smoke move north and south, are blown
By the prevailing winds below the clouds
That redden the sundown and the dawn.

Guy Butler

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Free State

Across the empty veld there creep
Red dusty roads that follow brave old names,
Marched by tall gums sunlit to windy flames,
Footless, and shrinking in the vast
Where all but wind and tree seems lost in sleep.

Here is more sky than you have seen,
Horizons flat and blue, or toothed with hills
That ever mock with distance; land that fills
Eagerly with light, and is
A loneliness, magnificent and mean.

N.P. Van Wyk Louw