Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Jaja Soze – The Rape

Serious depth once again from Jaja Soze, talking about the transatlantic slave trade and the rape of Africa, how it feeds into black inferiority complex today, and how it can be overcome with economic and cultural empowerment.

Follow @JajaPDC on Twitter.

Saul Williams – Anti War Freestyle (lyrics)

This freestyle, recorded over Nas’s incredible ‘Made You Look’ beat, is a phenomenal example of radical street poetry. Williams passionately denounces the war on Iraq, and examines the irony of Black Americans becoming soldiers in the US Army: “We was the first type of oil that they ever stole … Now they want a deal and asking us to back them”.

Check the audio. Lyrics below.

Now let’s get it all in perspective
Shift the objective, you’ve been misdirected
What’s the purpose of another song to step to
If you stepping in the wrong direction
Thug introspection
Mindframe in the fast lane
Through with cocaine
Time’s up, time to maintain
Before a n***a gets drafted
Cos you the number one pick, corn bread, cotton-crafted
Them people’s army shot another brown kid today
And all you strapped little boys let ’em get away
So what you packin’ for
You packin’ for the war?
They gonna ship you out and put you and your mans on tour
Yeah, your Hummer came in handy
Son, your Air Force 1s are sandy
You’d better peep the plan, B
Before you call yourself a soldier
Get caught up on the wrong side and your little party’s over
Put your blunt down, no time to front now,
Put your drink down, time to think now
We on the brink now
Where my peeps at, where the streets at?
Same cats that stole you is using you to steal Iraq

[Gunshot] Yo, I say let ’em shoot
My tongue is my gun aiming for the truth
They got a silencer and aimin’ straight at the youth
And all their talk of terrorism’s nothing but a spoof

We was the first type of oil that they ever stole
Nah, fuck the oil metaphor son, we was gold
But let the truth be told, we was platinum
Now they want a deal and asking us to back them

War, don’t start none, won’t be none
We fighting for freedom
Yeah they say they is but son I don’t believe them
Cos when there’s violence in the hood you never see them
Unless they starting it
They got their heart in it
Now they got you thinking money is power
You’re counting dead pres by the hour
And the one that’s living, the Bible thumping Christian
Like y’all n***az trying to cross out the mission
Listen, power is vision
You’re keeping it real in a neighbourhood that’s government sealed
Yo, let the truth be revealed
Before your freedom has failed and the innocent killed

[Gunshot] Yo, I say let ’em shoot
My tongue is my gun aiming for the truth
They got a silencer and aimin’ straight at the youth
And all their talk of terrorism’s nothing but a spoof

I’m hip to your games
Hip to the science of war
Propaganda make me fight but what am I fighting for?
My way of life, means and rights, give or take less or more
See through the eyes of the poor, plus I’m black to the core
Ignorance is on tour, booking stadiums and more
The days of Hitler painted pictures patriotic with gore
You raise a flag on a land, snatch a bald eagle’s claw
And send a symbol on your currency to finance your war
I’m saying no
Not in my name, not in my life
Not by my hands, that ain’t my fight
Not in my name
You wage a war against terrorists and violence
And try to wave your guns and fear us all into silence
No. Not in my name, not in my life
Not by my hands, that ain’t my fight
Not in my name
You built your empire with natives and slaves
Like the truth on resurrect waging war from its grave

For those of you in London, please note that Saul Williams will be speaking at the British Library on Friday 26 November, at an event entitled ‘Voices of rap and hip hop’. Speakers/performers include Akala, Lowkey, MK Asante Jr and Zena Edwards. More info here: (Even if the page says the event is sold out, try calling the box office, as there may be more tickets available).

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What we need is Nueva Canción – Remembering Victor Jara

Victor Jara

Victor Jara

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the murder of the great Chilean revolutionary musician, Victor Jara.

Victor Jara was one of the leaders of the Nueva Canción (spanish for ‘New Song’) movement – a movement based around “socially committed” music; music that takes a clear stand for freedom, against poverty, against imperialism and against human rights abuses. Nueva Canción gave voice to the millions of peasants, workers and indigenous peoples of Latin America who were being crushed under the weight of US economic and political dominance.

The date 11 September causes most westerners nowadays to think of the World Trade Centre attacks. However, for many, it will forever be remembered as the date on which, in 1973, the Chilean military overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende in a bloody coup. That coup, which brought the fascist Augusto Pinochet to power, was in large part planned and 100% supported by the United States (Henry Kissinger is on record as saying: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”)

On 12 September 1973, Jara, along with several thousands of Allende supporters, was taken hostage by the military and taken to Chile Stadium (now known as Estadio Víctor Jara). Along with many others, he was beaten and tortured; his hands were broken, but his resolve was not. When soldiers taunted him and told him to play something on his guitar (in spite of his broken hands), he played Venceremos (We Will Win). On 15 September, he was murdered.

Across the world, Victor Jara is remembered as a hero and a martyr; an exemplary musician who put his skill and his passion entirely at the service of the struggle for a better life for humanity. In commemorating his death and celebrating his life, we should remember the principal lesson he teaches us: that culture is a weapon, one which must be wielded effectively in these times where oppression and repression are so prevalent. As Paul Robeson said, “The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery”.

Here is one of the last songs recorded by Jara:

And here is a poem he wrote during the last days of his life, about what was happening in the stadium. The poem was smuggled out of the stadium in a friend’s shoe.

There are five thousand of us here
in this small part of the city.
We are five thousand.
I wonder how many we are in all
in the cities and in the whole country?
Here alone
are ten thousand hands which plant seeds
and make the factories run.
How much humanity
exposed to hunger, cold, panic, pain,
moral pressure, terror and insanity?
Six of us were lost
as if into starry space.
One dead, another beaten as I could never have believed
a human being could be beaten.
The other four wanted to end their terror
one jumping into nothingness,
another beating his head against a wall,
but all with the fixed stare of death.
What horror the face of fascism creates!
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision.
Nothing matters to them.
To them, blood equals medals,
slaughter is an act of heroism.
Oh God, is this the world that you created,
for this your seven days of wonder and work?
Within these four walls only a number exists
which does not progress,
which slowly will wish more and more for death.
But suddenly my conscience awakes
and I see that this tide has no heartbeat,
only the pulse of machines
and the military showing their midwives’ faces
full of sweetness.
Let Mexico, Cuba and the world
cry out against this atrocity!
We are ten thousand hands
which can produce nothing.
How many of us in the whole country?
The blood of our President, our compañero,
will strike with more strength than bombs and machine guns!
So will our fist strike again!

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel
Will give birth to the moment

Read the full story behind the poem.

Biko the Greatness – a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

steve bikoToday is the 33rd anniversary of the murder of Stephen Biko at the hands of apartheid police in South Africa. Although only 30 years old at the time of his death, Biko had become one of the leading intellectuals and activists of the anti-apartheid movement. A talented organiser, a sharp mind, a courageous heart and a passionate revolutionary, he is one of the most important martyrs of the struggle against apartheid.

This poem about Biko is written by Benjamin Zephaniah, without a doubt one of the best poets and writers alive today. Zephaniah is also a great activist and an inspiring personal example to us all. Brought up in the Handsworth ghetto, he left school at the age of 13, unable to read or write, and soon became involved with petty crime, doing a short prison stint for burglary. However, inspired by his love for all oppressed people and driven by a great personal desire to impact the world positively, he developed his abilities as a poet and a writer. Today he continues to be one of the greatest cultural representatives of working class and oppressed people everywhere.

Biko the Greatness

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
In a corner of South Africa
Where they believed there were
No mothers and fathers
Where they believed
One could not hear the cries of another
Wickedness tried to kill greatness

Wickedness tried to build a nation
Of white tyrants
In a corner of the planet
They arrogantly downpressed
They did no overstand
As they suffered the illusion of the God complex
But these words are not for wickedness

These words are for greatness
The greatness that inspired doctors and nurses
To become educated in the art of freedom getting
The greatness that inspired educators to become liberators
And a nation of children to become great themselves

South Africans in the valley of the shadow of death
Feared no wickedness
Because greatness was at their side
And greatness was in their hearts
When the wind of change went south
Greatness was its trustee, guided by truth

Now we who witnessed the greatness
Sing and dance to his legacy,
We who muse his intelligence
Spread the good news in Reggae, Soul, Marabi
And the theatre of liberation,
Knowing that nobody dies until they’re forgotten
We chant Biko today
Biko tomorrow
Biko forever.

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
Now wickedness is dead
And greatness lives
In Islington
As he lives in Cape Town

Interview with Steve Biko (PDF)

Interview with Benjamin Zephaniah, Part 1Part 2Part 3

Article by Zephaniah explaining why he rejected an OBE

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