Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Worker's Flag

The Worker’s Flag

Still they trudge
Homeward bound
Alongside the highway
With the eye of the red sun
Peeping at them from the western sky
As it prepares its blue bed
For its children the merry stars
To come back home
And rest their silver sparks

Home is a long way
If the stomach is empty
After a long day of toil
Behind monsters of machines
In the echoing factory
That threaten to maim limbs
As they produce
What the machine operator
Will never afford to purchase

Still they trudge
Homeward bound
It is a long way home
If steep slopes separate it from work
That must be negotiated
As they rise and fall
Blow and billow
And the weary body is burdened
By thoughts of debts
And hunger and anger
As to the west
The twilight sun sets
Its colours the country’s flag

The Destiny Of The Unborn

Nothing so depressing
As coming back into the country
From the abundance of the shops
In nearby Francistown
Or Messina
To see the shelves in our supermarkets
As empty as the thoughts
Of the shef’s when they can see
The heavy burden
They have dumped dumped
On the shoulders of the yet unborn


I ask myself
Are we back in 1987
When Nkomo signed
That short lived Unity Accord?

Sighs of relief
Also sealed it then
As they have also now done
The power sharing deal

Sighs of relief
That later witnessed
The backward slide
That has precipitated us
Into the now of anger and disenchantment
Of the noble dream
Of the nation’s independence
From the yokes of oppression


I ask myself
Are we back in 1987
When Nkomo signed
That short lived Unity Accord?

Sighs of relief
Also sealed it then
As they have also now done
The power sharing deal

Sighs of relief
That later witnessed
The backward slide
That has precipitated us
Into the now of anger and disenchantment
Of the noble dream
Of the nation’s independence
From the yokes of oppression


Hey teacher
Please listen to this picture-

Where are you hiding these days
Please tell your former student
For, I remember, sir photosynthesis,
The hiding you used to give me


Tips of fingers
A slap
Switch on buttocks

And I would dance
And dance and dance

And curse your mother
And father
Who gave birth
To such a callous person

Big red bhabhalazi eyes

But yet so brave

As to punish
Another man’s child-

But now I realize
It was only a gun
Wearing a condom


Which change
Were you trying to change

Higher than the change
That makes you skulk at corners
And queue at the money lenders
On SSB day
Or the useless bank
The whole day

You have nothing on your payslip
Please envy the mu Postori
Who calculate trillions on their fingers
Who have opened banks in their houses
-education is important
-education is important


Tell me dear teacher
Are you waiting for Jehovah
To bring about the change
That makes your heart nearly seize
And your thoughts go astray
When you envision
In your dreams
Whilst hoping
into the back of a cheap truck
Because you cannot afford the commuter Kombi
The house you thought you would build
The car you thought you would buy
The holiday
You thought you would take
In Victoria Falls
The Sychelles
When you were still fresh from college

Spirit of this class
Through rain or glass
I fling chalk dust into the mirror
And bid words hither
To create themselves on the reflection
And walk on their minute spirals
Back to the school assembly point

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Forever Travelling

Termites massed
forever curving away
along the red dust
of the country track
their destination
their departure

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Peace Deal (September 2008)

Those three hands shaking
And up from them
Three arms tentacling
In dark suit jackets encased
To three faces
Flashing white teeth
That tell nothing
Of the political thought
As that stone of the sky up there
Forever entombing us all

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It Can't

This chant
that chases
after the twilight glow
That soars
above the rooftop
of the bottle store
as smoke writhes
and suddenly flares
its skirts from reluctant fires
when ZESA blinks its stupid eye again
as that dumbfounded infant
asked by the class teacher
one minus two
before it can comprehend
two minus one-

'It can't
we are not bums -
says Obama;
A government for the people
Not a government against the people...'

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Country peeling
Old crusty skin
Lovers and haters
Plucking the drifting flakes
blown before
cynical currents
Trying to patch tattered dreams
That still
In their gaunt eyes gleam
Like unflinching agate
In sun-blasted
Mute deserts

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


’amaBooks invite you to
the launch of
Dancing with Life
a collection of short stories by

Christopher Mlalazi

Saturday 24 May at 2.00 pm

at the
Zimbabwe Academy of Music
Hillside Road

as part of the Bulawayo Music Festival

‘Christopher Mlalazi may well be the most promising younger writer in Zimbabwe today. His fiction captures the edgy energy of townships where young people have learned to be light on their feet, their dancing born of economic necessity and mocking disrespect for traditional authority. Patricia Alden, Professor of African Literature, St. Lawrence University

‘Christopher Mlalazi is the rising voice of the ghetto, with all its violence, sharp anger, bitter protestations and tangible promise of a better tomorrow.’ Raisedon Baya

‘This collection sparkles with wit, sizzles with style and dances with life. It is a welcome addition to Zimbabwe’s growing canon and will be read and enjoyed for years to come.’ Petina Gappah

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hot Chips Cracked Lips

They dart around

One two quick

Through owlish reading glasses

Long once intelligent face

Grey hair

He bends

Fingers snatch two pieces of chips

Off the dusty pavement

Greasy browned chips grimy white fingers

He straightens

Eyes dart around

One two quick

The hand raises

He wipes his nose

Palms downwards

And chips plop into cracked lips.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Partying In March

It creeps over the sky

This locust cloud darkening the land

With wannabe’s

As mouths go dry

Hearts pound

And the winds of change

Against their shackles strain

Swollen neck veins

As the mike at the star rally

Protests why not just a simple party-

A kitchen top up maybe..?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tears Of Joy

Do not despair my dear son

Shine bright like the patient sun

Stolidly day in and day out

This is your seed

Your seed in need

Of the succour of a happier day

Of a home that is always gay

Do not stifle that cry my beloved daughter

It was meant to flow like water

From the pregnant sky

From the flooded eye

The seedling shall slither

Out of the hard ground frail

A spank and a wail

Tears of joy

Is it a girl or a boy?

Or more sobs

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pay Day Hell

Today is pay day

But for poor me

It is Hell Day -

So I have lived to see

It weighs heavily on my mind this day

So sluggish and suffocating is the air

Even the vocal birds are not singing this stormy morning

They sit on the electricity line

Shoulders hunched as if in mourning

The phone squats at the corner, so silent

A sickening punch to the tummy

Is its ring on this day sometimes so funny.

And the unannounced visitor on the doorway

To hell and back

Takes the frightened heart wildly racing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Rainy Days

Rainy days are here lo'

street pot holes are gurgling in laughter at the bankrupt city council

as motorists curse

and pedestrians leap splash

hurray the dams are now full celebrate the vendors

but why is the water not coming from taps?

-the shefs are now looting it chirps grandpa

look what happened to the two hundred thousand dollars bearers cheques

but this time they wont cheat us

for we are also clever

we grew up in the rural areas

we will collect the rain water running off the asbestos roofing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mango Season

A bite

It bleeds yellow

The green summer mango half ripe

It fills an empty belly

That has not known a proper meal for many a day –

This bountiful harvest God given

Will it save the nation

From the ugly mouth of starvation?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rainy Days

Rainy Days
Co-written by Christopher Mlalazi (Zimbabwe) & Wame Molefhe (Botswana)

Sleep is like a cricket
trilling into space and rain pattering on the roof top
as we stretch the legs of our minds
entwining fingers with yellow moon beams
that peer into the depths of our souls.

I remember

A squirrel settles on my shoulder
Nibbling on a nut
It’s long furry tail entwines around my neck
I sigh, pick up the gentle animal
And hold it in front of my face –
It close’s its small eyes, nuzzles my nose
And nimbly leaps from my hands
And easily up the tree…

A short distance away
The gentle murmur of a brook
I remember one day too Gugu
We bent down to look
Into the clear depths of a pool in a valley
And two young love struck faces
Were gazing up at us
You threw a stone into the glassy surface
And the faces were caressed by tender ripples

I stand up and turn my back to the south
Where I came from I don’t know when
And never care to know again
As a grey dove whirrs from the open sky
Settles on the tree
And coo coo’s down at me
That it is time to start gathering dewy fruits
For my morning meal
And the doe’s are waiting in the dale
Their dug’s swollen with fresh milk
That my bloodless hands they do not fear
Shall squeeze into a gourd

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Autumn Leaves Change Colour (A Novel Draft)

Autumn Leaves Change Colour

(A novel Draft)

©Christopher Mlalazi


He was peeping at her from underneath the blanket. She stood in front of the curtain that covered the bedroom doorway, left arm on her waist, the right holding a grass sweep. A rat lay still on the pile of dust at her feet, looking dead.

‘Wake up!’ she shouted at him. Her brow was furrowed. ‘Do you go around with witches at night now to sleep until so late?’

The rat leapt up and scampered for the rectangle of bright sunlight that was the open back door. The grass sweep flew - it hit the rat and catapulted it out into the blaze. She strode to the door and looked out.

He saw her shrug her shoulders, then she turned around, picked up the sweep, and her bare feet stepped towards him. Her toes, coated with dust, were large and splayed out, as if they wanted to individually flee from the feet as the rat had done from her. Reaching him, she leaned down, and yanked the blanket away. She took one look at him and her cheeks, half in shadow from the daylight behind her, seemed to swell.

‘That is why!’ her voice was accusing. ‘And everyday too!’

He scrambled up. Dressed in only a pair of rumpled khakhi short trousers, he was eyeing the sweep carefully. The shorts had a wet ring on the right side.

MaNdlovu threw the blanket back over him, so it hung over his head and down his body like a hood for some obscure ritual.

‘Go and hang everything outside!’ The tail of the grass sweep thwacked his head under the blanket, and the blanket suddenly collapsed down. Outlined underneath it was the rigid back of Sipho’s kneeling form.

MaNdlovu stared. The form remained kneeling. Suddenly, the blanket was thrown back, and Sipho’s face reappeared. It was now covered in sweat.

MaNdlovu’s mouth opened wide, and the sweep fell at her feet. Both of Sipho’s hands gripped his throat, and his mouth was also as wide open as his mother’s was, but in a soundless scream, his face tightly drawn. Then, slowly, his body arched backwards, at an impossible angle, as if his hands gripping his throat were pushing his body backwards, and it was resisting.

MaNdlovu’s hands darted out towards him, but they missed him, and his body thudded back on the pile of blankets on the floor, and lay still. He was looking upwards, his mouth still wide open, his hands still gripping his throat, now as if he was choking himself. Then his waist arched upwards. His eyes were now up-pended, showing the whites.

Fear filled maNdlovu’s eyes. Mayibabo!’ she wailed. She touched her head in helpless confusion, then her bosom, then her head again, then she darted into the bedroom, flinging the curtain aside and leaving it billowing softly, as if it had a life of its own. Before the billows had settled, the curtain was flung aside again and maNdlovu re-appeared, now a small plastic sachet in her hand right hand. She knelt beside Sipho. He was now lying flat on the blankets, his mouth and eyes closed, and his naked chest moving slowly up and down in sleep.

With shaking fingers, she pinched snuff from the sachet and sprinkled it over him - just as the nyanga had instructed them a year back when the problem had started occurring.

‘The elders want to come out through him,’ the nyanga, a young man immaculately dressed in an expensive suit and tie, quite like a medical doctor, had declared. ‘And if they do, I tell you he will lose his mind forever.’

‘We hear you!’ maNdlovu and Ngwenya had chorused in reply, sitting side by side on a goat skin.

The nyanga had consulted his bones, scattered on the floor between his low wood stool and his clients. He had pointed at one, which had scattered away from the rest. ‘See, he is a special child,’ he had gone on. ‘And that has its rewards. Even some animals give birth and then immediately die. That is their reward too from the animal spirit. Are you prepared to hear what your ancestors want to say to the people?’

‘We only have two children,’ Ngwenya had said. ‘And all our hopes reside on Sipho, who is the youngest.’

‘We can’t have him losing his mind,’ maNdlovu had put in. ‘Already the other one has no mind. Why don’t they speak through him if it’s that important?’

‘And what would they want to tell us, and through a ten year old boy, poor as we are?’ Ngwenya had asked.

The nyanga had regarded Ngwenya with bright probing eyes. ‘Don’t underestimate your ancestors,’ he had said. ‘What ever it is, it has a bearing on the future of the country.’

‘If it’s for the country then no!’ maNdlovu had declared, emphatically. ‘Why don’t they speak through the leader if that is the case!’

A wry grin had flitted across the nyanga’ lips. ‘Maybe he is no longer making them,’ he had said, almost under his breath.