For Those Who Mispronounce My Name

After my kakha,
my father’s father who died
before I was born,
I was gifted this Luvale name;
the self-same
borne by my kakha, brother
to my father's mother,
who hugged me at Kaunda Airport
because his sister, my kakha,
died before I had a chance to see her again.

*

It is not only my body I've carried
this long while
to the side eye and scrutiny
of border control
but the name your tongue stumbles on
an heirloom
a shibboleth.

*

This is the word for a boy-child
in Darlington whose mother heard my mother
speak this name and wished one day
her son would feel its weight
when she called him
or conjured him in conversation
the way my mother did
— to think I thought myself unloved.

*

What you might think
a simple case of tomato tomato
is life and breath
to somebody like me;
who could search all your histories
and never find his epithet
glowing among those annals and tracts;
who does not exist according
to your version of events.

*

Did no one tell you
naming is a magical act,
words giving shape
to life, life revivified
by utterance,
so long as proper care
is taken to pronounce
the words correctly
thereby completing the spell?

Kayombo Chingonyi

Inglan is a Bitch

wen mi jus coma to Landan toun
mi use to work pan di andahgroun
but workin pan di andahgroun
yu dont get fi know your way aroun

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
dere's no runin whe fram it

mi get a likkle jab in a big otell
an awftah a while, mi woz doin quite well
dem staat mi awf as a dish-washah
but wen mi tek a stack, mi noh tun clack-watchah!

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
noh baddah try fi hide fram it

wen dem gi you di likkle wage pakit
fus dem rab it wid dem big tax rackit
yu haffi struggle fi mek enz meet
an wen yu goh a yu bed yu jus cant sleep

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch fi true
a noh lie mi a tell, a true

mi use to work dig ditch wen it cowl noh bitch
mi did strang like a mule, but, bwoy, mi did fool
den awftah a while mi jus stap dhu owevahtime
den awftah a while mi jus phu dung mi tool

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
yu haffi know how fi suvive in it

well mi dhu day wok an mi dhu nite wok
mi dhu clean wok an mi dhu dutty wok
dem seh dat black man is very lazy
but if yu si how mi wok yu woodah seh mi crazy

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
yu bettah face up to it

dem have a likkle facktri un inna Brackly
inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry
fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah
now awftah fifteen years mi fall out a fayvah

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
dere's no runin whe fram it

mi know dem have wok, wok in abundant
yet still, dem mek mi redundant
now, at fifty-five mi getin quite ole
yet still, dem sen mi fi goh draw dole

Inlgan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch fi true
is whe wi a goh dhu bout it?

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Pessimism Is For Lightweights

Think of those that marched this road before
And those that will march here in years to come
The road in shadow and the road in the sun
The road before us and the road all done
History is watching us and what will we become

This road is all flags and milestones
Immigrant blood and sweat and tears
Built this city, built this country
Made this road last all these years
This road is made of protest
And those not permitted to vote
And those that are still fighting to speak
With a boot stamping on their throat

There is power and strength in optimism
To have faith and to stay true to you
Because if you can look in the mirror
And have belief and promise you
Will share wonder in living things
Beauty, dreams, books and art
Love your neighbour and be kind
And have an open heart
Then you're already winning at living
You speak up, you show up and stand tall
It's silence that is complicit
It's apathy that hurts us all

Pessimism is for lightweights
There is no straight white line
It's the bumps and curves and obstacles
That make this road yours and mine
Pessimism is for lightweights
This road was never easy and straight
And living is all about living alive and lively
And love will conquer hate 

Salena Godden