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Imbi Lendawo - Kgositsile Mashugane

I was 12 years old the first time I saw the world.

I wish I could tell you how I consciously investigated my surroundings and looked

But to be honest with you my eyes were closed shut and I had no intention of ever taking a peak.

I was lost in the dark with this unidentifiable pain in my heart and when I look back I realise that I didn’t even know that my eyes were closed,

I lived life assuming that the rest of the world was seeing the world through my eyes.

The same eyes that refused to peak.

You see I was blindfolded by this idea of a rainbow nation

So even if my eyes were open I couldn’t see

And just like me

Misguided by this democratic delusion,

An entire generation leaves behind their history and sincerely we believe that a child of melanin could be born free

But I couldn’t see



I was 12 years old when I first saw the world

And I didn’t like what I could see.

Layer by layer was the rainbow nation striped from my eyes

And like a torch reality shone in my face,

I was no longer blind,

I could see.

No I was forced to see,

By little Johnny and his mother

To this day I can feel the chips of the concrete paving beneath my feet,

A cool breeze between my toes.

I can still taste the salt of my tears as they trickle down the side of my face,

I can still hear the croak in my voice as I whisper through the phone

"mama badinkile di tlakho tsami."

They’ve taken my boots.

You see little Johnny and I played soccer on the same team

And on the day of a match Johnny lost his boots,

In front of the entire team there I was trembling

By little Johnny's mother I’d been labeled a thief.

I was 12 years old when I first saw the world


When I first realised that no matter how many boys in your team wear the same boots

If Johnny loses his

Only one could’ve taken them because he doesn’t belong.

Preconceived judgements are held due to the complexion of my skin

No matter how many smiles we’ve shared the two of us will never connect,

Separated we are by this melanin.

I was 12 years old when I first saw the world

When ur praises turned to lies

When the rainbow colours began to die

And my eyes now conscientise

I can see

That there’s no rainbow in this nation

No blurred lines

There’s only black then there’s white

I was 12 years old when I first saw the world

When ur words that praise began to hurt

Because I’m expected to accept

And never reject

The praises received from Becky

Aww Kgoshli u speak so well

No

For once let’s get it right

I do not speak well

I just speak white

But in our society what’s the difference

I was 12 years old when I first saw the world

When I realised that imbi lendawo


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