Archive for October, 2012

“Will you come back when

The Tide Turns?

After many days?

My heart yearns to know.

And so I seem

To have you still the same

In one world with me

As if it were part and parcel,

One shadow, and we need not


Our darkness: do you understand?

For I have told you plain how it is.

I shall always wonder over you, and

look for you

And you will always be with me.”

From Robert Fisk’s World: The true eloquence of letters from the front

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Congo, January 1961 – the disposal of the body of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo –

“Lumumba, Mpolo and Okito were not to stay in their new grave in Kasenga for long. A definitive solution was planned over the next two days. Early in the afternoon of 21 January, two Europeans in uniform and a few black assistants left for Kasenga in a lorry belonging to the public works department and containing road signs, geometrical instruments, two demijohns filled with sulphuric acid, an empty 200-litre petrol barrel and a hacksaw. According to Brassinne, all the equipment was provided by the public works department. According to Verscheure and Belina, the sulphuric acid came from the Union Miniere. On their arrival, they unloaded the road signs and theodolite to make passers by think that they were doing a land survey. But they could not find the grave, and had to stop searching at nightfall. Not until the evening of the next day did they find the grave and start their lugubrious task. The corpses were dug up, cut into pieces with knives and the hacksaw, then thrown into the barrel of sulphuric acid. The operation took hours and only ended the next morning, on 23 January. At first the two Belgians wore masks over their mouths but took them off when they became uncomfortable. Their only protection against the stench was whiskey, so according to Brassinne, they got drunk. One of the black assistants spilt acid on his foot and burnt it badly. They discovered that they did not have enough acid and only burnt part of the bodies. According to Verscheure, the skulls were ground up, and the bones and teeth (that neither acid nor fire can destroy) were scattered on the way back. The same occurred with the ashes. Nothing was left of the three nationalist leaders; nowhere could their remains, even the most minute traces of them, be found.”


The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba – Ludo De Witte
Translated by Wright and Renee Fenby

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“Suppose you and I argue. If you win and I lose, are you indeed right and I wrong? And if I win and you lose, am I right and you wrong? Are we both partly right and partly wrong? Are we both all right or both all wrong? If you and I cannot see the truth, other people will find it even harder.

Then whom shall I ask to be the judge? Shall I ask someone who agrees with you? If he already agrees with you, how can he be a fair judge? Shall I ask someone who agrees with me? If he already agrees with me, how can he be a fair judge? Shall I ask someone who agrees with both of us? If he already agrees with both of us, how can he be a fair judge? Then if you and I and others cannot decide, shall we wait for still another? Waiting for changing opinions is like waiting for nothing. Seeing everything in relation to the heavenly cosmos and leaving the different viewpoints as they are, we may be able to live out our years.”

Chuang Tsu – Inner Chapters
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

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It is a dry white season
dark leaves don’t last, their brief lives dry out
and with a broken heart they
dive down gently headed for the earth
not even bleeding.
it is a dry white season brother, only the trees know the pain as they still stand erect
dry like steel, their branches dry like wire,
indeed, it is a dry white season but seasons come to pass


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Jan F.E. Cilliers’ poem about the loneliness and devastation faced by thousands of Boers returning from exile, after the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), to burned farms, empty lives and missing family:

That’s All





and one bird wheeling lonely, high –

that’s all.


An exile come back

from over the sea;

a grave in the grass,

a tear breaking free;

that’s all.

(translated by Guy Butler)


Dis al

Dis die blond,
dis die blou:
dis die veld,
dis die lug;
en ‘n voël draai bowe in eensame vlug –
dis al

Dis n balling gekom
oor die oseaan,
dis n graf in die gras,
dis n vallende traan –
dis al

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