Category Archives: Michael Wentworth

The Grain

The Grain

All of this land was once our home. Fertile and rich, we were sustained. We knew the seasons and understood the elements, we could read the stars. Our children knew their kin and shared in our stories. Without shame or judgement they grew; but now no more.

This is where I used to live. The wall along the boundary, the garden, the path; the door upon which visitors knock, the hall, the rooms and windows; the ceiling and rafters and roof; the jaded, faded memories of birth and death and life: was once mine but is no more.

These walls were once our sanctuary; a habour from the tempests; keeping safe my family who I love most dear; a humble haven against the ravages of the relentless, blustering winds that have swept so much rubbish to these shores: our refuge no more.

This grain of sand is now my home. Just a single, tiny grain that contains all of me: my history, my reality, my dreams all contained within this single grain.

A single grain that is the mountains and the valleys, the oceans and rivers and the land: a grain so mighty and yet so small in which the seed of my existence was planted and nourished and where I grew; but seemingly no more.

My afterbirth lies buried here in this grain with the murdered bones and the miserable torture and indignity and the tragic joy of my ancestors.

Now this single, tiny grain once again contains all of my living, all of what is me.

I am this land, the air; the mountains and the skies; the sunshine and the moon and the stars and the clouds.

The bricks, the mortar, the glass and the wood; each a moment carefully constructed. There a smile, or a tear or some laughter; a celebration, mourning, the sound of a baby crying, the final sigh of an elder dying.

This grain of sand is all that is left of my birthright.

Once a mighty mountain of resistance: now a lone wailing in the distance.

Shivering outside, exposed to the estranged elements, dying inside on the sandy wastes of cinderblock tenements.

This land is no longer my home. I have been evicted and abandoned, sacrificed for a corporate profit which purchased my vote and my hopes and the dreams of my children who now live here with me in this grain of sand upon which you stand without noticing my suffering. My life and my living became an obstruction: to your views, your plans, your safety and your justice.

These walls which were once my home were bulldozed again, burying my plight along with my rights: another District 6, another Sophiatown, another Cato Manor; in the name of a gentrified Woodstock, a Slum Act for Kennedy Road and State corruption in Lenasia.

Bankers and corporations buttering bread for an exclusive banquet to which we were never invited, but are expected to serve: where they discuss the economy and foreign investment between trips to the piss-house-parliament to make way for yet more gluttonous gorging where you and I are never mentioned except in passing.

I know that no one speaks about my cupboard that is bare and broken beneath the rubble that was once the walls supporting my roof. The constitution and education is failing because already the children have learned how to mistrust and hate fate; learned that only money can change circumstance and financial success can be attained through criminal gain.

A police force skilled in bullying and harassment: supposedly civilized men in uniforms and suits who continue to rape and torture, prolonging the suffering of parents who must live so that they can repay all of their debt with interest.

State sanctioned suppression and condoned murder; the brutal accomplices of this insecure tenure.

And in the end I know that you will also want this tiny little grain that houses me and the misery that is all that remains of our once lofty ideals.

This single, tiny grain that is the last vestige of resistance.

Woodtsock, Schubert Park, Itireleng, Skurweplaas, Mooiplaas, Debonair Park, Thembelihle, Lawley Ennerdale, Khayelitsha…


Michael Wentworth & Khoi Gxam Productions – 2013

Published in 'Incendiary Times', Cape Town, August 2013