Race Against the Odds22 February 2021
content warning: racism
The Not-so-distant Colonial Past and “Post-racism”
In recent years, the idea of “post-racism” has become increasingly popular, with people often stating that “racism no longer exists”, particularly in Western countries, including Australia.
I have personally experienced this. One experience I had was when I was in a college tutorial telling my peers how I have often been followed in stores, called the n-word and been made fun of for having braids. The white students responded by saying that they have never seen, or experienced racism, making it non-existent to them. They also claimed Black Lives Matter was black people victimising themselves.
White Australia often uses “multiculturalism” to conceal the racism that still exists within the country. In advocating that post-racism has been achieved, it erases the racist experiences PoCs (People of Colour) continue to face and makes the not-so-distant years of colonialism seem like an irrelevant part of history that can easily be forgotten. This is particularly hurtful in Australia’s context, as Indigenous Australians have never gotten their rightful land and country back. Independence was never achieved, and so Australia is still colonised.
My father was born in colonial Mozambique, a country bordering the east of South Africa. He fought in the war that occurred due to Mozambique achieving Independence. The South African colonisers felt threatened by Mozambique’s Independence, particularly as the Mozambican president vouched to help South Africa gain its Independence. I only have to look back one generation to see colonialism. The era of colonisation was not long ago, and the effect can still be felt today. However, as PoCs we must continue to struggle and fight for equality in this Race Against the Odds.
I wrote this poem titled “A Luta Continua” (meaning the struggle continues). It talks about colonialism in a more African context but can be applied to colonialism as a whole.
A LUTA CONTINUA
The beating drums pump our hearts faster and faster
It moves us to keep on living as it enlivens our souls
We grow our wealth in the seeds cultivated by those from above
The land speaks to us and spills its secrets for love
We use these secrets to nourish our bowls
The beating of the drums is echoed in our pounding of maize
A synergy between them is formed
The drums engulf us, telling us to move in many ways
We flow like the river that connects our mores
We feel the rhythm in our veins
Our voices swallow all the pain as we sing in hurricanes
The antelope watch us as we sleep
Breasts are plump with milk for the descendants
Innocence forms lumps on the backs of their Mothers’ independence
Threads tied together by the fingertips of their Mothers keep them
They listen to the hearts of their Mothers beating with the drums,
It is all we know.
It is all we knew.
As ivory men slither into the land that shelters us
Their evil intent burns the rivers and we’re left paralysed,
As the beating of the drums stop.
Our blood stains their flags.
300 arduous years prolonged since the drums stopped
And the silence began,
but like the rivers that filled up again and the land that remained beneath us,
the drums began beating again
With a fierce sound that was louder than bombs
Our hearts that had cracked began to repair
Our souls that became dormant began to erupt
War was brought upon the ivory throne
And for 10 years the beating of the drums
Would push us to endure
Our melanin shields shone
As we made the ivory men atone
On the day the ivory throne collapsed
We rose once again and claimed the sky
With our fists and shouted “A luta continua”
For we would continue to fight for our neighbours
Who were still in pain
And so when the beating of the drums are heard
A luta continua is transferred
Because we will never be silenced again.
“A luta continua” is Portuguese for “the struggle continues”. It was coined during the Mozambican War of Independence and was used by the leader and first Black president Samora Machel. The phrase was intended to give people hope and to encourage Mozambicans not to give up the fight for Independence. After Mozambique gained Independence in 1975, Machel helped black South Africans and Zimbabweans fight in their respective Independence wars, spreading the term more widely across Africa. The phrase is still used today and remains symbolically important to Mozambicans including myself.