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Whites Only - A Decasyllabic
The privilege of having a moustache
with matching blue eyes, and a complexion
prone to skin cancer; a long nose and thin
lips, has returned once more to Zimbabwe.
Who else can play the part of boers, jailers
and policemen so beloved of movie
directors from the USA and Great
Britain in movies such as "Cry Freedom"
and "The Power of One"? Parts well paid, mind
you, considering all you have to do
to look yourself for a second, or say
a few words in cartoon Afrikaans like
"Kaffir" and "Roer jou gat" and "Swart gevaar".
Since the heady days of Black Consciousness
in the seventies; Independence highs,
Post-independence lows in the eighties,
I have noted – not being a farmer
or a businessman – noted with relief
the rapid falling away, like cutis
from an unregenerative limb, of
privileges: access to publication,
scholarships, promotion in the public
service, parcels from Mrs Jellyby . . .
just when I began to think: We're even;
No more apologies, stepping aside,
head down, muttering, no more "after you"
in bread and passport queues, no more -isms
and -ists . . . just when the last crystals of guilt
in my joints had dissolved, this job – they give
you dark glasses if your eyes are gentle –
for white males with cruel faces only

Editor's Note: Whites only: this poem was written at a time when films such as A Dry White Season and Cry Freedom were being shot in Zimbabwe, often with local white extras. Roer jou gat – form of expletive Swart Gevaar – Black Peril Mrs Jellyby – philanthropist in Dickens's Bleak House concerned with settling Britons on the Niger.