I first heard this piece at the 18th Poetry Africa, Durban. I cried tears of realisation and relief at the same time. I was so dumbfounded that I only realised after it was over, that I had a camera on my lap and could have recorded it. So, I hounded Mak to send me a copy I could read over and over again. Once I had it, I read it to a friend of mine, who by the end of my off the cuff reading, was balancing tears too.
I feel like these words may bring others the feelings it brought to the few who have witnessed it, so I am compelled to share it. Enjoy.
The Misinformed Prince
By Mak Manaka
Behind the palace walls
Cries the lonely queen,
Her tears echo
The pain of a million women,
“Date-rape is real”.
She hands me a piece of light
While I plot to devour her pride
I mold her art
And reshape her heart
Simply because “I am a man”
But I am not man enough
To proclaim my love for her
What will she teach her son?
All men are dogs
Born in the heart of Babylon
Conceived from the sand of Mars
Because we refuse
To defuse our emotions at bars?
She sleeps covered in self-hatred
Blaming her self for your bullshit,
That same bullshit
That raised the little boy into an inferior
And stubborn Sheppard
See how he leads himself
To self destruction
Who will teach the young Prince
How to handle a woman’s emotion
When all he’s known is abuse
Who will let him know
That sometimes its ok to loose?
Walk away from gender oppression
And free your mind
From the corner’s unflinching
Be more than just a man,
Be the yellow brick
Upon where she stands
A real life fairytale
With happiness at the end
Though always remember
Truth can be hard to comprehend
Because in the face of reality
Uneasy lies the head
That wears a plastic
But still is the body that refused it
She marches against our hearts
Because we keep rapping her dignity
And corrupting her understanding of equality
Vanity has now lost her virginity
She is no longer secret.
Her body is now a damaged painting
We love to exhibit
Look how she laughs
Only to hide the shame,
Almost every woman I have met
Has been touched down there
When they were just young worlds
In every family lies the wicked blood
That clutches the smiles of little girls
Many young princesses
Have been crying in silent for years
Their tears falling on deaf ears
“She’s just silly girl”
Shouts the last voice they had trust in,
And so the bitterness on their skin
Into nervous conditions
Anger in the heart turned into burnt linen
Should a child live in fear
From her father’s laughter?
Home should not be an open space
Of constant bad weather
My grandmother was right
“bophelo ke ntwa”
Especially for a black sister
Raised by a sexist and conservative culture
Yet still, we keep unplucking her feathers
And blinding her further,
Because our dicks are not big enough
To apologize and mean it
Though I’ll be the first dick to admit it,
I am weak without her.
“ I am sorry my love”.
Behind every promise
A burnt peacock still dreams of beauty,
And behind the palace walls
A queen writes tears away from her face
Hoping that one day
You and I will learn how to listen.