Growing up African, American and Christian
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — African. Immigrant. Student. Poet. Musician. Writer. It takes…
TUBUNGU, Swaziland — “Before we can heal Africa, we have to understand Africa.”
That’s what Sibusiso Adontsi told an audience of church members from across southern Africa and the U.S. recently.
On the campus of African Christian College, he shared three original poems — words of hardship and hope, born out of his experiences living on the continent of nearly 1 billion souls.
Adontsi is a native of Lesotho, a landlocked kingdom surrounded by South Africa. His parents are pioneers among Churches of Christ in Lesotho. His mother is a native of Swaziland. All three are graduates of the college, once known as Manzini Bible School.
But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. — Genesis 22:7-8 (NKJV)
Scripture is filled with poetry from noble men, including David and Solomon, and writers of which we know little, such as Asaph and the Sons of Korah. Their work teaches us about God’s relationship with people across the ages. We incorporate their words into contemporary psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as we make music in our hearts to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)
Sibusiso Adontsi’s rhythmic poetry raised some intriguing, thought-provoking questions, including, “What would happen if the devil said ‘I am sorry’ to God? I am not claiming it’s gonna happen, but just give it a thought.”
The second of his three poems personified a facet of the African experience with imagery that’s both beautiful and terrible. Here are the words:
The curse of being black with no direction, lost with no resurrection, hopes of a future blurry, lost and it’s looking scary.
I wanna change the world, give birth to a star like Virgin Mary, be a star that shines brighter in life’s darkest alley. But how can you be early, when some can barely sleep, and hope they never keep because miseries are always deep?
They always weep.
Dead like Isaac without the holy sheep.
See, this is a story of a little girl trapped in a pain cell. She wanted to be something when she grows up, says her pen pal. She wanted to be a star, the female version of Denzel, Angel that fell from heaven straight to African hell.
She had a cute smile but her clothes had a terrible smell, ’cause she was left to rot in the street like a leftover meal.
The story is real. It even made the devil crush to tears. Now she fantasizes about going beyond hemispheres, where people can live together without sharpening their spears. Because her dad was lost in war, her mama was lost in tears. Her sister wants more; her brother was ruled over by the beers. Yet she had the dream of being Lesotho’s first Britney Spears.
Now the future is blurry, left without the Son like Virgin Mary.The burden is heavy like, “Why did I have to leave the belly?” Like, “Why did I have to be the sperm to reach the ovum early?”
She contemplates about her date with fate in the grave, with no shackles and chains on her feet — but she feels like a slave.
They call her an Ave, a shortcut meaning to street life. Divorced her home, she became an ex — never a housewife.
Blood, tears and sweat — that defines her life.
If she was still alive I would make her my wife.
The final poem is more upbeat. The poet spoke of a man who stopped fighting God, who finally became willing to lose himself and let go.
“Now my life is good, because I lost everything. I was overlooking the fact that I’ve got everything, oblivious to the fact that I am a king only fit for queens. And I never settle for little things.”
We need more poets in our fellowship.
It was an honor to hear this young believer’s powerful perspective.
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