Saturday, 14 April 2018 19:32

Doodgeskiet: In memory of Chris Hani

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Doodgeskiet: In memory of Chris Hani

It is twenty-five years this month since the assassination of Chris Hani, general secretary of the South African Communist Party and chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Hani was also Mandela’s de facto deputy; his murder opened the way to the disappointments and betrayals of Thabo Mbeki and Joseph Zuma. Here is a poem by Andy Croft to mark the occasion.

‘Doodgeskiet’ means ‘dead’ in Afrikaans; Comrade B was Hani’s name inside Umkhonto we Sizwe; he was murdered in Boksburg; ‘Guptagate’ is the popular short-hand for the corruption that enmired the ANC under Zuma’s leadership. The poem is, of course, based on the old Wobbly song ‘Joe Hill’.

Doodgeskiet

by Andy Croft

in memory of Chris Hani

 

Last night I dreamed I saw the man
Who murdered Comrade B,
Says I, ‘you should be twelve months dead.’
‘I never died,’ says he,
‘I never died,’ says he.

‘In 1993,’ says I,
Him standing by my bed,
‘They gaoled you on a murder charge.’
Says he, ‘but I ain't dead,’
Says he, ‘but I ain't dead.’

‘Democracy imprisoned you,
We locked you up,’ says I.
‘Takes more than votes to kill a man,’
Says he, ‘I didn't die,’
Says he, ‘I didn't die.’

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
He says, ‘what they forgot to kill
Went on to organize,
Went on to organize.

‘They promised you the coming Dawn,
But promises come cheap –
We bought your dreams of liberty
While you were still asleep,
While you were still asleep.

‘From Boksburg up to Guptagate,
In every mine and mill,
Where working people stand and fight,’
Says he, ‘you'll find me still,’
Says he, ‘you'll find me still.

Last night I dreamed I saw the man
Who murdered Comrade B,
Says I, ‘you should be twelve months dead.’
‘I never died,’ says he,
‘I never died,’ says he.

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Andy Croft

Andy Croft has written and edited over 80 books, including poetry, biography, teenage non-fiction and novels for children. He writes a regular poetry column for the Morning Star, curates the T-junction international poetry festival on Teesside and runs Smokestack Books. He lives in North Yorkshire.