Gert Strydom

(03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

In front of a firing squad

Japie almost burns himself
when he mess some coffee
and it’s still dark,
when at four o’clock one morning
British soldiers arrive
at the Greyling’s farm.

There’s an Afrikaner farm boy
standing against the wall
of a farm house
and English Captain Jack Seeley,
wants to know to where
his father’s Boer commando is going?

Japie Greyling refuses
to say anything about it
and Jack Seeley
order his men,
to aim at an Afrikaner boy.

Six British Martini Henri rifles
are pointed at a ten year old child
and he hears gunlock after gunlock
closing behind a bullet.

I ask you a last time
says the relentless Englishman
and a Boer boy
looks into death,
but still there’s nothing
that he lets out about his people

The British Captain keeps
walking nervously up and down
and the blue eyes
of a Boer boy,
cuts right through him
and the child says
let death then come,
but talk I wont.

All the British soldiers
are astounded by the courage
that comes from an Afrikaner child
and on command,
the rifles are lowered
before they ride away
and Japie Greyling
is left alive.

[References: Historic heroic story of Japie (Jacobus Johannes Cornelis) Greyling during the second Anglo-Boer war. The poem “Japie Greyling” by J.F.E Celliers. The book “Fear and Be Slain” by Jack Seeley.]

Submitted: Monday, November 16, 2009
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