The Way It Is

We can’t sing certain songs
that speak of our glorious past or our
identity. We are shamed. Tunes
hummed softly to walls that sometimes listen but
don’t record words barely coherent they
brush cheeks against hard surfaces
and sigh to winds passing outside. We
can’t be proud of our
history, the long winding road
of deeds that made us who we
are, those many, many years of development,
innovation, education,
love for humanity and the land we
live in, the great strides we
took into the future that brought us
here where we are, right now. We
are ridiculed, made to feel stupid, those years
slowly erased from memory one word at a time,
dissected, analyzed and thrown away as
not being worth a cent. Our
history. My history that sleeps crammed tight
inside cupboards, imprisoned behind glass
walls in a white man’s home, forgotten, yearning to
return but held back by words agreed with
forced signatures while mothers watched
their infants balanced on swords. We
aren’t allowed to practice our beliefs, our
religion of non-violence. We
are looked down as being inferior practicing an
ancient wisdom they claim has no place
in this new world order rolling in. Everything is being
re-written to suit the white man
somewhere. We
are forced to accept the white man’s ways
and beliefs, his lifestyle, his food filled with things
that harm our bodies. We
are persuaded to sell our values, our businesses,
infrastructure, money making properties that are
made to look as disasters, failures in our
incapable hands, handed over to foreigners with
no idea of their true worth, to appease
buffoons in political power. We watch helpless as our
lands, those many tufts of earth that make up
this place we call home, nurtured with the blood of
warriors that died to save it for a future,
are torn up, lines drawn for
ownership claimed from foreign shores.
Slowly, slowly we
change, turn once again to become slaves to
whiteness this time not controlled with
guns held against us
but through agreements signed in cold climes
behind hushed doors. We
are compelled to obey the rules
follow the oil man’s religion. Shroud our
women in darkness. Our
words are twisted like vines, tied up,
strangled. Simple meanings deconstructed, what we
meant is portrayed as something negative, ugly,
best left unsaid thrown into the gutter. We
become nothing. Beaten up our
backs curved in surrender aged beyond our
years. Coerced
into submission to the white master
oil master coming in different clothes, speaking
through different tongues sliced in two, sugar
coated to please
controlling through regional bullies,
political prophets and
religious puppets, money exercising utmost
authority while debauchery reigns,
reigns, reigns and thugs party with not a care in
the world and the police cheer and the public
cry foul and no one listens for ears
hide inside potholes and words roll in the dirt
desperately waiting for the rains.

© 2016 Shirani Rajapakse

A Gift for Life – Join me in the Song Of Sahel

I’ve been busy working with friends from around the world on a new anthology to be launched next month.  Song Of Sahel brings together some of the artists who collaborated on Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence as well as many new and interesting artists. Song Of Sahel is unique as it is not merely poetry and prose but will include paintings, artwork, music and photography along with poetry and prose. Song Of Sahel will be published by Plum Tree Books as a multi-media kindle and will be available on Amazon. Proceeds of the sales will go to SOS Sahel, an NGO working in the Sahel region of Africa.

The Song Of Sahel is yet another brainchild of my friend Dr. Niamh Clune.  A month ago Niamh decided to bring together a group of artists to produce this unique anthology to help raise awareness and the much needed funds to help the people of the Sahel. Spurred by a poem about the plight of the people in the Sahel by Wayne Tolbert one of our gifted poets, the Song Of Sahel was born.

Why in the world the Sahel? You may ask. And here’s the reason.

Millions of people are affected daily by adverse weather conditions around the world. Yet none are harsher than the severe drought prevailing in the Sahel – a narrow band of semi arid land south of the Sahara. Encompassing countries such as Senegal, Mali, Burkino Faso and Niger the Sahel once boasted of some of Africa’s most influential civilizations. It is today one of the poorest and most environmentally damaged places on earth.

Soil erosion, deforestation, insufficient irrigation, desertification, drought and overpopulation are just some of the problems faced by the people of the Sahel. The incomes of the people have reduced and finding food has become a luxury. Many people are forced to eke out a living outside of their traditional occupations of herding and farming drawing them to the cities where overpopulation creates a whole new set of problems. And as always it’s the children that get affected the most.

Aid agencies based in the Sahel region are working nonstop to help alleviate the suffering of the people of the Sahel. But are we to leave the work to aid agencies alone? Do we merely give a few coins in support to whatever charity and then turn away hoping they do the needful? No. As artists we need to do more. Much more. We may not be able to give much in terms of money but we can together give our talents to make money that will feed the hungry and buy books for the children.

We can help and together we can make a difference.

I ask you, writers, poets, painters, photographers, bards, singers, songwriters, musicians and the occasional town crier to join in with us and help make a difference, even a slight difference in the lives of these people.

You can contribute anything, the only criteria is that it has to be about the Sahel region. Song Of Sahel already includes artists from around the world – from the UK, US, Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Canada, South America, India and Australia who have joined to raise awareness of the plight of the people living in the Sahel.

We are accepting submission until August 15, so hurry and send them in. You can contact us via www.ontheplumtree.wordpress.com on how to make a submission or how to link with us.

Song Of Sahel will be launched worldwide on September 15 at

http://www.facebook.com/events/455785594445002/ 

or www.ontheplumtree.wordpress.com

You can meet some of the artists involved in the project, listen to music composed especially for the event and hear live recordings of some of the poems submitted. You can also listen to a radio broadcast.  The event begins at 10 am GMT and will continue round the clock until 10 am the following day.

I look forward to meeting you.