Mandela’s Been Dead
Mandela died in July
And all the country cried for his body,
Outside the hospital
Not knowing he was dead.
Ever elegant you
escaped your body in front of our eyes.
They searched for you in 1962
At train stations and bus terminals.
From your mansion in Rivonia
To your little home in Orlando.
It was better before they knew where you were.
When they found you
they stole your whole middle age.
When they gave you back
We stole your old.
Today your grandsons are going crazy
And everyone wants a piece of the cake
wants a piece of your face,
I feel for your name.
They have been borrowing it
to every newspaper with ink.
No wonder you ditched your body
At the feet of that bleeping machine.
While the party debates the date to tell us
And your family fumbles
To accommodate the frenzy
Of what your funeral will look like.
I imagine you are watching the show,
You, in the crowd for a change.
Watching us perform vigils at your corpse.
Let Zuma do his dance for the cameras
They will bury you in shoes that he could never fill.
Now that you are alone for a while
Unbutton that collar,
The ancestors will not blame you.
Confide in them openly about the mistakes you made.
And laugh at how funny it is
That you can finally be human now.
They will not judge you.
They have already borne witness to Freedom, the play.
Mouthful for the praise poet!
They have not told us that you are gone.
And I thank them for their quiet.
The only way you could rest in peace
Is if we did not know about it.