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Ushaka Land: A Poem by Melissa Brodie

Melissa Brodie, an Interstudy student from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College (Durban) Summer Program, shared this poem with us about her time in South Africa last summer. Nice work Melissa and thanks for sharing!

Ushaka Land

“Sawbona Sissy!”
“Yebo,” I answer grinning.

Her black skin radiates in the African sun.
She greets me with a warm smile
Showing a mixture of white and gold teeth.
A true Zulu woman, sturdy and worn with
Patterned cloth draped artfully over her body,
Reds and blues

There is a baby on her back
Wrapped in a towel.
I didn’t see him at first
But now he looks at me,
Eyes wide and curious
Staring at my white skin.

Another child, a girl
Steps out from behind a splintered crate
Filled with ripe mangos.
She approaches me forcefully,
Taking my hand in hers.

She asks to touch my hair.
I bend down and she
Studies it rubbing the smooth blonde locks in her fingers.
Then touches her own hair
Knotted in tight coarse braids.

“How much for a mango?”
“2 rand..”

I finger the change in my pocket and give her a 5.

“Ngiyabonga,” I say as I turn away
Down the now crowded dusty street.

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