Umxhelo wokugqibela | The Last Breath (A poem for Philela) #RIPPhilela

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Written by Nozipho Madlala translated by Akha Tutu

Philela Gilwa(wearing black t-shirt) addressing his comrades at Lingelethu Police Station after Mthunzi Ras Moziah had been murdered (Pic: Sakhikhaya Dlala)

Umxhelo wokugqibela uyazivala iingcango zobomi
Ngokuphanyaza kweliso inamhlanje ibalizolo.
Zijike iintsuku zethu zibe zezokugqibela.

Ukuba kuyenzeka ukuba ndilibale ukuphila,
Ungathi ngokunyhwalaza wenze ngathi bendikho.
Bambelela kwinyaniso endikunike yona
uze ume nxamnye neengxelo ezinganikisi mdla ngobomi bam.

Xa igama lam kwiincwadi zembali licinywa, likhusele.
Maze ixesha lingaze likukhohlise ukuba andisekho.
“Salani kakuhle!” asingomazwi am okugqibela lawo.

Amaphupha am ayakuba phakathi kwenu,
ivumba lam libe sezingqengqelweni zenu,
yona inzondelelo yam iya kunikhumbuza ukuba igama lam
lalibhalwe ngoonobumba bovuyo, ukuzola neenkxwaleko.

Ukuba kuyenzeka ndingabisanakho ukuphila,
amaphupha am makaziwe lihlabathi.
Ngoku ndithabath’ uhambo olungaziwayo
ilixesha kuphela into exabisekilyo
endinqwena ukuhambanayo.

Ukufa kuphumelele.
Oko sikuko noko besinqwena ukuba kuko kutshabalele.
Kungoku nje kugqityiwe,
Nam ndithe cwaka.
Ubomi buhluthwe ngumxhelo wokugqibela.

Author: Nozipho Madlala

English Translation 




The Last Breath

The last breath closes a lifetime
In an instant present becomes past
And these moments become our last

If I ever forgot to be
Never pretend that I was
Hold the truth that I gave you
Against the half-hearted memoirs
And stand

Stand up for me when my memory
Becomes blurred
Don’t let time convince you that I am gone
Goodbye was never
my last word

My dreams shall remain on your walls
And my scent
on your pillows
My zeal shall remind you
that my life was painted
in letters stained by
Joys, stillness
and sorrows

And if I ever forgot to live
Tell the world that my dreams
Outlived me
I know nothing as I walk
Into unknown spaces
Where time is the only treasure
I wish to carry with me

But it’s over and I am done
A lifetime blown away by a single breath
The unclaimed victory of death
Over all that we are
And all that we hope to become
—————————————————————–
Philela Gilwa was stabbed on Saturday the 15th of July 2017 in Town 2 (Khayelitsha), close to the land occupation site and died on arrival at Khayelitsha Day Hospital. He had been suspended for 9 months at the University of Free State (UFS) for Fees Must Fall related activities. He then sought refuge at Kilombo Village in Makhaya and involved himself with the biggest land occupation in Cape Town in recent years.

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