In May of 2009, I, along with 11 other young writers in NYC were chosen to travel to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela. Two weeks ago at the Apollo for the Young Producers Club's night of activating change, I thought of Mandela. I thought of his legacy. His impact on world history. I thought how performing at the Apollo was such a milestone in my poetic journey. Who knew submitting my poem 45 mins before deadline of the writing contest would get me to South Africa. Who knew 8 years later, I would still be writing and performing in the name of revolutionary change. At 14, I had spunk, I was spicy, and called out everything that was unjust . Through poetry I channeled my frustrations and confusion into lyrical creativity. My poetry journey really started, more so publicly, after meeting Mandela. I found slam poetry, then Urban Lyrics, and now I am finding myself through poetry. I thought to share the poem I wrote. Circling back feels right. Feels like Sankofa. Examining where I came from/ where I was at age 14 and where I am now at 22. Its always embarrassing to read this poem because I would never write like this now. But as I stated - Sankofa is necessary. Shout-outs to 14 year old me. I remember how dope she was...
A strong man that overcame his struggle
That fought and went through hell in South Africa’s trouble
About 800 miles east of Cape Town, born and raised in Transkei.
A warrior, a leader, who he later grew up to be
Soon qualified in Law in 1942
Joined the ANC accomplishing what he could do
With the Mentality of Anti-Apartheid
He experienced oppression on the other side
For so he was black
No one thought to think twice or to look back
He supported his people, attending to their every need
Even though they were pierced with daggers and their hearts began to bleed
In 1964 an obstacle occurred
Where everything just came to a pause and a sudden blur
From 1964 to 1990 he was incarcerated
Unlike any other he was supported by his people and not hated
After he was released he was dedicated to his work
Outstandingly he eliminated his opponents with a smirk
The opponents that kept him and his people from a good night’s rest
With his people chanting, “Mandela’s the best!”
Yes! It was Long Walk to Freedom
With Mandela’s spirit to go and beat’em
Was the start of a new South Africa when it began to rise
Now in his hand is the Noble Peace Prize
He stood for quality, justice, and forgiveness
Attending to his work and business.
Just as Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, they all fought to make the world a better place.
I too can make a difference in my community with this one face
Gangs in the Bronx are clashing like waves crashing on to land
If it were up to me I would have all gangs banned
Racism contiguously spreads and affects around the world like a disease
That didn’t think to stop, halt or cease.
Mandela’s way inspired me to have a difference in my community
To bring to the world peace, love, and unity