ngigqoke njengenene –
Ihembe elimhlophe, uthayi, nensudi.
Bese ngihlangabezwa indoda
engitshela ukuthi “khiqiza.”
Ubhukwana wempilo yami
Ukuthi ucwaningwe bese inginika ukuqekuza.
Besengingena emnyango omkhulu webhilidi
ngithole indlela ivalwe ngunogada
Ngiphaquza imisinga yedolobhakazi
uhlangothi nohlangothi no “misisi”
ogudluzela isikhwama sakhe ngakolunye,
angibheke ngamehlo athi
“We! Klibhi! Ngiyakwazi ukuthi ungubani;
ngaphansi kwalezosingubo zikanokusho
kuncencetha inhliziyo yesela.”
ALWAYS A SUSPECT
I get up in the morning
and dress up like a gentleman –
A white shirt, a tie and a suit.
I walk into the street
to be met by a man
who tells me “to produce.”
I show him
the document of my existence
to be scrutinised and given the nod.
Then I enter the foyer of the building
to have my way barred by a commissionaire
“What do you want?”
I trudge the city pavements
side by side with “madam”
who shifts her handbag
from my side to the other,
and looks at me with eyes that say
“Ha! Ha! I know who you are;
beneath those fine clothes
ticks the heart of a thief.”
Editor's Note: Sounds of a Cowhide Drum was first published in English in 1971 by Lionel Abrahams. The 2012 re-issue of the book carries a simultaneous translation of the poems into Zulu.