Measure for Measure

go measure the distance from cape town to pretoria
and tell me the prescribed area i can work in

count the number of days in a year
and say how many of them i can be contracted around

calculate the size of house you think good for me
and ensure the shape suits tribal tastes

measure the amount of light into the window
known to guarantee my traditional ways

count me enough wages to make certain that i
grovel in the mud for more food

teach me just so much of the world that i
can fit into certain types of labour

show me only those kinds of love
which will make me aware of my place at all times

and when all that is done
let me tell you this
you’ll never know how far i stand from you

— Sipho Sepamla

South African poet Sipho Sepamla was an active member of the anti-Apartheid Black Consciousness Movement. His work, including his The Soweta I Love, a book of poems written in response to the 1976 Soweto Uprising, was banned the government.

[Research note: this poems comes from The Soweta I Love (Africa Book Centre, 1977), p. 14]

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