We Beg Your Pardon South Africa by Mandla Langa

13 Oct 2016
We Beg Your Pardon South Africa by Mandla Langa

PEN SA Executive Vice-President Mandla Langa shared his poem “We Beg Your Pardon South Africa” on Twitter yesterday, writing that “Nostalgic souls have asked me to post one of my earliest poems which they feel has resonance with aspects of our slide into madness”. He has kindly allowed us to share the poem here:

We Beg Your Pardon South Africa
By Mandla Langa

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for the lies your enemies and the Press
have heaped upon you,
denouncing you as racist
whereas you’re the most democratic
and free country
the world has yet to see.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for the many many many many
young communists terrorists and anarchists
who inhabit your prisons
for they really deserve to be there
as a threat to the peace
to the safety of our rosy-cheeked
blond-haired children.
Detractors say you’re oppressive
but that’s just another lie.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for the untruths spread about
your peace-loving and innocent policemen
who are said to be torturing prisoners
whereas we all know
those are self-inflicted lacerations
and cigarette burns.
We apologise for those that
are supposed to have been murdered
when actually they committed suicide,
for the man who nailed his own penis
on the prison floor
in a frenzy of self-terrorism,
for the man who caused such an uproar
when he imagined he was a seagull
and flew out of a window
in John Vorster Square.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for those who hate passbooks
because Africans do need them
especially in toilets without paper rolls.
We’re really sorry for those moved
to Limehill, Dimbaza, Rooigrond
for the perpetuation of progress,
for the migrant labourers
who live in 5-star hostels
to help us in our factories,
for miners who dig up our gold
and diamonds for our wives to glitter in
and for the riches
that make us such a powerful country
and if they die in the mines
through their own negligence
then, why, we’ll get some more.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for those who claim your laws are too harsh
for the Immorality Act that helps us
keep our heritage and culture pure
for the Group Areas Act
that groups us up comfortably separate
for the Land Consolidation Act that protects us
from the Land-grabbing thieves
for Section Six of the Terrorism Act
that spells the death
of all terrorists so that we won’t
be terrorised
for the Customs and Excise Act
that does away with pornography
and communist ideals.
We beg your pardon, South Africa, for those who say
we need an Act to protect us from you.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for those who say SABC and TV
are government propaganda organs
for we really love to see the faces
and hear the sweet voices of our leaders
telling us how well they’re treating us.
We’re really shocked when some people
refer to our policemen as racist pigs
whereas they’re no kin to the dreaded
ungulate family.
We beg your pardon, South Africa.

We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for those hordes from the north
who don’t have bullets marked ‘Whites Only’,
for your children at the borders
who die not knowing what for,
for the United Nations, the OAU,
for the ANC, the PAC, the Communist Party.
We beg your pardon, South Africa,
for those who claim your time is running out
and that time is coming
for you to say to all people:
‘I beg your pardon.’

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