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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