In 1976

In the white land in which I lived,

there was nothing un-comfortable.

Nothing too difficult.

Not a lot to worry about.

In the leafy suburb in which we stayed,

rubbish was regularly collected

on our road.

Nothing to furrow one’s brow over.

Gas was piped daily to our neat house,

for Mother to cook

her Cornish pasties.

And they were always so delicious.

And my school, a short distance from home

a bike-ride away.

School books supplied

by the then Department of Education.

As we lay in the warm winter sun,

during lunchtime or break,

we watched afar

the shining Hillbrow Tower being built.

There was great progress in the father-land

And we at peace.

Our lives uncluttered

With politics, the economy, or blacks.

There were Communists, we believed,

on the border,

threatening our peace.

And would take our beautiful land.

When our time came, we all knew, we

would do our duty.

Our heads shaved.

Our bodies offered for country honour.

And we spoke about this thing often enough.

Shared our brothers stories.

Munts and kaffirs -

They were always the bloody problem.

And un-troubled , un-stirred and shielded mostly,

we would eat Mother packed sandwiches

and worry about our Matric homework.

That night all seated next to the fire,

we would listen to the newscast

which spoke of riots.

Children being used.

And on the next day in bleak Soweto

we watched smoke

fill the sky.

And Choppers overhead

punctured our lessons now.

And eventually it died down.

And eventually things went back to normal.

And eventually the restless natives

appeared calm.

Of the dead children

we knew little.

Of Hector Pietersen

we knew nothing

And sighing at the stupidity of it all,

we tucked into our Sunday roast

after Church.

© Michael Worsnip