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So see now hear (in the dark) feel

A poem about The Dark by Roi Kwabena, commissioned by Braunarts

 

"...was blind, but now I see"
John Newton : "Amazing Grace"



See now hear feel
Feel now, hear sea
Here now feel see,
now feel hear an�
see in the dark (refrain)

buckra...guineas
dosh...massa

are they who plunder an� rob
any different than those who trade in
human cargoes? Lock, stock an� barrel
Eternal triangle retraced
from Whitehaven, Liverpool, Bristol,
Gloucester, Cardiff, Birmingham an� London
a few prospered so cups may be filled with rhum�
Raleigh ensured tobacco may smoke first in Devon
Asphalt still pave roads of trade
Commerce, banking and insurance established
pirates, buccaneers, cow killers, privateers
Slavers out to sea, religious zealots
Archaic laws of eighteenth (which) century

Gold, emeralds, diamonds, bauxite
cocoa, guns, shackles, sugar, cotton
pineapples, papayas, timber, coffee
tomatoes, chocolate filthy as mined coal
brandy parties, St Giles stinking drunken stupor
nursing gentlemen�s trade of wretched human cargo

Even locals pressed-ganged as crew
Spirited chimney boys, convicts,
those indebt, screaming kidnapped daughters
condemned as accomplices for this trade
starved on sail to gold coast

Precious kidnapped cargoes albeit humans
Chained afraid are some/none
on atlantic separated
fading memories of baobab
denied rights of passage or kin
beaten, shackled in irons
Never to return!
so accept the sacrifice of Quamina
feel words of saved Rushton at this shrine...

as familiar names survive, histories so entangled
Global deceit, new millennia
will but forced emancipation
did not end chattel slavery
as today showcases and brochures
brag post modern conveniences
dependant on supply of shackled labour in
afrika, asia unto lawless jungles of americas
Even in the kitchens of europe and middle east

pathetic excuses of abominable
existence before european�s arrival
then legal, so no compensation to date
benefactors pay no reparations
drinking blood like milk
Feel here now, see now hear feel
Failed safe if only one is in captivity
None is free!
No dignity without equality!
No humanity
Without justice and liberty!

roi kwabena
2004/09/06

Commissioned by Braunarts for the Birmingham launch of The Dark 01.09.2004
© The Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2004

image of Roi Kwabena
Photograph of Roi Kwabena in The Dark at Millennium Point by Lindsay Wilson.
Photo courtesy of Thinktank
 
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