(for the countless women, names unknown, who bore the brunt of Apartheid, and who fought the racist system at great cost to themselves and their families, and for my mother, Zubeida Moolla)
Pregnant, your husband on the run,
your daughter, a child, a few years old,
they hauled you in, these brutish men,
into the bowels of Apartheid's racist hell.
They wanted information, you gave them nothing,
these savage men, who skin happened to be lighter,
and white was right in South Africa back then,
but, you did not cower, you stood resolute,
you, my mother, faced them down, their power,
their 'racial superiority', their taunts, their threats.
You, my mother, would not, could not break,
You stood firm, you stood tall.
You, like the countless mothers did not break, did not fall.
You told me many things, of the pains, the struggles,
the scraping for scraps, the desolation of separation
from your beloved Tasneem and your beloved Azad,
my elder sister and brother, whom I could not grow
up with, your beloved children separated by time, by place,
by monstrous Apartheid, by brutish men,
whose skin just happened to be lighter.
You told me many things, as I grew older,
of the years in exile, of the winters that grew ever colder.
You were a fighter, for a just cause,
like countless other South African women,
you sacrificed much, you suffered the pangs,
of memories that cut into your bone, your marrow,
you resisted a system, an ideology, brutal and callous and narrow.
Yes, you lived to see freedom arrive, yet you suffered still,
a family torn apart, and struggling to rebuild a life,
all the while, nursing a void, that nothing could ever fill.
I salute you, mother, as I salute the nameless mothers,
the countless sisters, daughters, women of this land,
who fought, sacrificing it all for taking a moral stand.
I salute you, my mother, and though you have passed,
your body interred in your beloved South African soil,
you shall remain, within me, an ever-present reminder,
of the cost of freedom, the struggles, the hunger, the toil.
I salute you!
(for the brave women of South Africa, of all colours,
who fought against racial discrimination and Apartheid)