Thursday, August 18, 2011

Unchain our voices, liberate our nation’s soul - by Shanil Haricharan

[My journey isn’t just about a nostalgic look back at my experience of the war.  It is rooted in my present desire for healing. Part of that is having and promoting dialogue.  I met Shanil as part of my search for ways of healing in a broader sense, and my small way of promoting reconciliation.

As a student at Wits in the 80’s Shanil became more and more angry and outraged by what the apartheid government was doing to our country and its people.  Eventually he realised that he had to take up arms to fight for what he believed in.  He set aside his pacifist principles and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

Shanil has very generously agreed to write this moving poem - Paul]

Unchain our voices, liberate our nation’s soul
Written on the 26th June 2011, in Namibia, on the anniversary of the drafting of the Freedom Charter

Our Nation Then
At war with itself
Torn apart
Along racial lines
Black and White
Powerful and Powerless
Oppressors and Liberators
Our nation’s soul
Its war machine
On a warpath
In our beautiful land
Across the African sub-continent
Harnessing discontent
Hatred and destruction
Fellow countrymen
In opposing battle formations
Each others enemies
Defending opposing ideologies
Our Nation Today
In transition
The flame of freedom
Ignited in ‘94
Illuminating the birth of a new nation
Harnessing harmony
Hope to the present and future
 After generations of grief and pain
In celebration of our martyrs
Their blood nourishing
The torch of freedom
Though, Today
Our nation
Haunted by the ghosts of its past
Tenuously in pursuit of wholeness
Dear compatriots,
 Is it not time
To bear our tortured souls
Share the pain of our nation’s past
Lay the ghosts to rest, forever
Share our stories
Of a divided past
Liberate us from our ignorance
Of our pain and joy
Nightmares and dreams
And nourish the soul
Of our non-racial
To wholeness
Shanil Haricharan

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