Event Information:

  • "Big City" by Sibusiso Ernest Masilela

    Salute to you big brother Johannesburg
    Our inner-city of cosmic trait and talent
    Ruling hemispheres with power and aplomb
    Peppering the roots that grow pride or ambition
    You were born from a gallant Batswana tribe
    Light in complexion with rich political history
    Bred by my grandfather’s endless sweat and tears
    That sowed the country’s first official flee market
    You are Canaan to the people of the South
    Drawing attention from even our neighbours' eye
    Africa’s safe haven of dreams and fortune
    Giving hope to all who wish to earn a name
    You enfold invincible rivers that cleanse misfortune
    And your skies televise firecrackers of fame
    You raised pebbles from dust to colossal heights
    And enchanted the world with your blinding lights
    You are sweet-motherland’s centerpiece of gold
    That kept solemn views and left critics speechless
    Your town plan scorched under our siblings’ feet
    Kept our cousins howling and hawking every street
    Your windows mirror the face of a modern man
    Inviting nomads so they could be lost in your atlas
    Following the rhythm from your covert train tracks
    Tap dancing to your song, all in pursuit of success
    Brother Johannesburg you are the blood of my ancestry
    My late father’s wise and adopted son
    Your wings shelter the homeless and all broken souls
    Turning every tear into pasture or seeds of gold
    You were only married to our precious economy
    Gave birth to mansions, townships and squatter-camps
    Taught us refuge in hostels and hard labor, mining in the reef
    Governed our elites with religion and Bantu education

    Big brother Johannesburg a man with colonial vision
    You have destroyed unity, betrothed to the art of deception
    Hypnotized my insular people with your idealist inception
    Broadcasted sham headlines to mislead our perception
    You are the captives’ city that hardly sleeps
    Fulfilled your mission by keeping our relatives sunken deep
    Our families weep for children in pavements or lost in your caves
    Hidden at the bottom of your pit living as destitute or wild slaves
    You kept our scholars detribalized colonized by theses from Oxford
    Watched our elders abandon culture and sold tradition for graves
    You gave society illusions and fed my mother the teenager’s pill
    Condoned vibrancy, destroyed morality, keeping us captivated by nude appeal
    You stole pillars from the rural and left my nephews rashes that won’t heal
    And you spilt the antidote that cure fungi and germs of poverty
    You erased my surname and signed yours on every intellectual property
    Left my soul bitter and my heart vain so my existence would not feel real
    You vowed to fulfill fantasies and seal empty spaces to shield our lack of basic skills
    Became treasury to piling pressure and insomnia and left our leaders overdosed on stress pills
    Dearly beloved brother look what you’ve done, now tell me
    how do you feel?

    Sibusiso Ernest Masilela is a 34-year-old poet born in a town called Emalahleni in Mpumalanga. He believes that words bring more light to humanity, and literature has the power to shape the mind, to gain exposure… that is the experience.