The Zimbabwean Children’s Liberation Festival — D Marechera

There was a bear in the garden
Playing piano wires in its teeth
A sparrow on the triangle echoed the burden;
The cat on violin clawed out its kin & kith.
Owl’s brassy eyes sleepily clashed like cymbals
While the rat in owl’s beak shrieked in soprano calls
Cricket & Cicada’ steel brush on silver drums
Dappled the scene with a jazzy farewell to arms.
Little Lulu pulled the pin of a gall she found
And BOOM! Lulu burst out of life into the bass drums.
Her mum on the trumpeters screamed & screamed all
round
While the bear in the Festival Garden
Clawed the piano wires in its jagged teeth.
Fatboy let loose a cello sound from his behind;
Violet the violincello sneezed into her mama’s skirts;
Little Farai squeezed Shona juices out of his brown eyes
And, with a flourish, burst into God Bless Africa.
“Bless you,” Fatboy murmured asweat with sweet
mankind.
But little jeering faces leapt onto the sets
Holding Farai down, sang Baboon Go Home
And sneered at Fatboy for a kaffirlover.
Fatboy’s fists swung like windmills facing Dover
Meatball, his expat teacher, dragged all apart:
Tweaking into reluctant ears the art of nonracism.
BOOM! Lulu again burst out of life into the deep bass
drums.
The bear thumped a grim growl from the piano muzzle
Over his jaws.
“Ma, Shakespeare’s girlfriend was a nigger. Fatboy
Said so, “ said Peter the Pants.
“hush.”
“Ma, Othello’s wife was a white girl,. Fatboy said so, “ said
Violet the violincello.
“Hush.”
“A nigger was an Emperor of Rome. Fatboy said so.”
“You don’t want us to know the United Nations or the
OAU. Fatboy said so.”
“Ma, are you a boer?” “That means I’m also a boer.”
“Did you really kill Farai’s parents at Sharpeville,
Chimoio & Nyadzonyia? Fatboy said you did.”
Fatboy’s parents are white like us. But he says you
jailed them for years and years. Why did you?”
“SHUT UP! These brats ask too many questions.”
“But teacher said to ask.”
“For that I’ll take him to task.”
Bootsie, The Ghetto Boy, chewed his lip.
His dusty buttocks showed through his khaki pants.
With paper & comb he played his soul, hoping for a tip.
His brown moth face, his brown moth wings all vibrant
Toward the spotlight, he played hoping for a tip.
In the background of Bootsie’s thin ghetto strains and
frame.
Grimfrown the Beat rested his chin on the great bass
guitar
And with hairy clawed fingers thrummed a slow judgment
BOOM! Lulu thundered out of life into God’s wrath.
“Fatboy says those who take the gap are cowards.”
“Fatboy says Smith and Walls should have been hanged.”
“Fatboy says reconciliation only works when justice is
seen to be done.
Otherwise all whites are lumped with the killers.”
Fatboy by the fountain fought down a great yawn.
The blistering sun sucked bitter sunlight from his fatty
brawn.
Little Farai had his can-opener head stuck fast between the
rails.
BOOM BOOM Lulu detonated again and again.
Bootsie sang:
I got nothing to tell you
That’s not skin off my back.
I got every
little thing to hide
And win respect a mile wide.
But I don’t do nothing
for nobody
‘Cos nobody does nothing for me.
The cat, furious, screeched demented arrows at the
vanished moon.
Lulu BANGED! BANGED! BANGED!
Prefects like hyenas drooled and drew nearer.
The rat in teacher’s beak squealed expressionist poems.
Alice bleeding from the smashed looking glass bit her lip.
She thought the Zimbabwe Festival “very curious”.
Three staffroom typewriters chattered in tune
Thought Fatboy a future minister or bloated monster
Deemed Farai a prick and Lulu too fargone
And declared the Festival a resounding disaster.

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