Wednesday, June 24, 2020

I Am An African! A Poem for Our Times by Nikolai Tjongarero

CAUTION: Do not proceed unless you want to be part of the solution.

Born from the bloodlines of ones I'll never have the time to put into a rhyme or
understand the rhythm of their hearts truest ambitions.

But I'm an African...

Called a nigger by most and destined to be seen as every niggers ghost, but who would
have me do the most in order to display a true alternative, or something close.

Not the ones, the ones that use the word so freely want, but the truth I've kept hidden
since the first time I ever heard it spoken of with utter disgust. Especially since when
you're a nigger you're a nigger everywhere you go, no matter how far you may have
come, or gone, or what accomplishments you have to show.

But I'm an African...

And so my nature is to carry on, no matter the hindrances and push-back I experience just
because of the continent my country comes from.

See, I'm an African...

And with that comes more than I could every fully convey, see speech is limited because
it only allows for the utterance of that which you know how to coherently depict.

But I'm an African and we speak languages that even we didn't know we could speak… I
mean just look at the way an African woman's hips sway as if she's dancing in the wind,
yet centered by the roots her ancestors had lain all those centuries before the stories of
their memories went away. The way we're never without a beat, because our hearts
pound differently and with each pound it's like a drum getting ready to speak.

But I'm not your enemy... I'm an African with more stories in my blood than could ever be
put to pad, and with that comes all the blessings that God made sure I would have. The
only curse would be not acknowledging them as they stare dead straight into me, and
relish in the new memories this Son of the soil is able to uncover, no matter their

Wait, did you not know I was an African?

See, everything you claim to make me inferior is still what so many from your side of the
spectrum endeavor to appropriate with utmost haste and repackage as a new discovery so
as to overshadow from whence that knowledge actually came.

But I'm an African, and we will never go away. Because I'm an African, and unless you're
one of us, you'll never understand the heights of all our joy, or the depths of all our pain,
or how far we'd venture to accomplish any measurement of either one once again.

I, am an African... And you may think this is the end, but in truth, it is only the beginning
you've wished would never find its way into a... I AM AN AFRICAN!


— Nikolai Tjongarero

Nikolai wrote I Am An African! in the fall of 2019. When he shared the poem with Bar None Group he suggested that we may want to tone down the language within the poem. We politely declined to make any changes to I Am An African! as we did not want to dilute Nikolai's message.

Born and raised in Windhoek, Namibia, Nikolai Tjongarero is a contributor to The Ground's Ear Contemporary Verse from Southern Africa poetry anthology. Nikolai's poems, social commentary and ruminations have appeared within these pages over the last decade.

We thank Nikolai for his continuing support of the Bar None Group. #IAmAnAfrican is Nikolai's 11th contribution to our online anthology since 2011. He recently studied in China for his MBA and continues to write poetry.

Africa Continent Map by

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