Text: Mercy Dhliwayo
Photograph: Supplied

Child do not be broken
We have all been here before:

Our mothers--their mothers--
Their mothers before their mothers
They have all been here before
Since before the days of slavery
Before heavenly beings planted seeds
In virgin wombs birthing sons for Calvary
Before patriarchy,
Religion and rebels
Began weaving wives and military concubines
Out of girls who’d barely reached puberty
Before the abstract of our native anatomies
Became aesthetical obscurities for public scrutiny
Before the reduction of feminine bodies
To commodities became all too normal
These chains that hold us here
Have held our species in bondage since time immortal
Before “before”
These bloody floors have worn their skins
These walls closing us in
Are structures constructed of moulded fractures
Of their decapitated bodies

So child do not be broken
Woman they may have stolen
The stars inya eyes
Planted their botched manhood
between ya thighs
But from this abyss we shall rise
Cos we are Conquerors

We are conquerors
A battalion of worriers
Marching through this inglorious
Tide of life
With a stride that strikes a command of reverie
For we are the epitome of royalty
imbedded in the souls of our feet
We are the distinct
bread of molten rock
Volcanic ash spewing fumes
out of sockets
that refuse to pocket the pain
Or retain
the memories of rape

The bruises of abuse
The stale taste of shame
The victim tags that replace our names
When we, to the system, remain
Statistical figures
Rotting in cabinets of closed cases
We more than just those faceless faces
That a mere hash tag easily replaces
When calls to bring us back go viral
We are the survival Spirits
that linger
and refuse to settle with the dust
When all the hype has passed
And all we have is us
When the call to bring us back
is long forgotten
Even when we are whirled
Back into the social fabric
For your gaze to meet the face
of innocence stolen
to observe our broken
But not enough care
For even mere hash tags
Calling for our healing
Praying for the mending of our brokenness
restoration of strength
And will to live
When our bellies yield babies
That wet know not how to love
Or have a bone to hate
Or stealth to abort
We have fought
Many a wars
From behind bedroom walls
To cooperate walls
And we have worn
The bruises and scars
As testament of our resilient
elephant skins
So child: do not be broken
Woman: they may have stolen
The stars in our eyes
Planted their botched manhood between our thighs
But from this abyss we shall rise
Coz we

We are conquerors