African Poems

Noemia De Sousa (The Poem Of Joao)

Joao was young like us
Joao had wide awake eyes
and alert ears
hands reaching forwards
a mind cast for tomorrow
a mouth to cry an eternal 'no'
Joao was young like us

Joao was the father, the mother, the brother of multitudes
Joao was the blood and the sweat of multitudes
He smiled that same tired smile of shop girls leaving work
He suffered with the passivity of the peasant women
He felt the sun piercing like a thorn in the Arabs' midday
He bargained on bazaar benches with the Chinese
He sold tired green vegetables with the Asian traders
He howled spirituals from Harlem with Marion Anderson
He swayed to the Chope marimbas on a Sunday
He cried out with the rebels their cry of blood
He was happy in the caress of the manioc-white moon
He sang with the shilabos their songs of homesick longing
He hoped with the same intensity of all
For dazzling dawns with open mouths to sing
Joao was the blood and sweat of multitudes
Joao was young like us.

Joao and Mozambique were intermingled
Joao would not have been without Mozambique
Joao was like a palm tree, a coconut palm
a piece of rock, a Lake Niassa, a mountain,
an Incommati, a forest, a macala tree
a beach, a Maputo, an Indian Ocean
Joao was an integral and deep rooted part of Mozambique
Joao was young like us.

Joao longed to live and longed to conquer life
that is why he loathed prisons, cages, bars
and loathed the men who make them.
For Joao was free
Joao was an eagle born to fly
Joao loathed prisons and the men who make them
Joao was young like us.

And because Joao was young like us
and had wideawake eyes
and enjoyed art and poetry and Jorge Amado
and was the blood and sweat of multitudes
and was intermingled with Mozambique
and was an eagle born to fly
and hated prison and the men who make them
Ah, because of all this we have lost Joao
We have lost Joao.

Ah, this is why we have lost Joao
why we weep night and day for Joao
for Joao whom they have stolen from us.

And we ask
But why have they taken Joao,
Joao who was young and ardent like us
Joao who thirsted for life
Joao who was brother to us all
why have they stolen from us Joao
who spoke of hope and dawning days
Joao whose glance was like a brother's hug
Joao who always had somewhere for one of us to stay
Joao who was our mother and our father
Joao who would have been our saviour
Joao whom we loved and love
Joao who belonged so surely to us
oh, why have they stolen Joao from us?
and no one answers
indifferent, no one answers.

But we know
why they took Joao from us
Joao, so truly our brother.
But what does it matter?
They think they have stolen him but Joao is here with us
is here in others who will come
in others who have come.
For Joao is not alone
Joao is a multitude
Joao is the blood and sweat of multitudes
and Joao, in being Joao, is also Joaquim, Jose
Abdullah, Fang, Mussumbuluco, Mascarenhas
Omar, Yutang, Fabiao
Joao is a multitude, the blood and sweat of multitudes

And who will take Jose, Joaquim, Abdullah
Fang, Mussumbuluco, Mascarenhas, Omar, Yutang, Fabiao?
Who?
Who will take us all and lock us in a cage?

Topic(s) of this poem: Love

Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Poem Edited: Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Comments about Noemia De Sousa (The Poem Of Joao) by African Poems

  • Bharati NayakBharati Nayak (1/14/2017 7:43:00 AM)

    Joao, is the spirit of freedom that truly cares for the masses and very essential for the growth of humanity.This spirit can not really be bound or imprisoned.It can not be suppressed forcibly as it will give rise to many such Joaos as protector of freedom. (I am not acquainted with the name Joao, but this is what I understand.A poet's note would have helped me in better understanding of the poem.)

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  • Veeraiyah Subbulakshmi (1/21/2016 5:53:00 PM)

    I could not find out a reason why our men are very weak in achieving the economic benefits not as the western world's men who are dreaming and using the intelligence and resources of theirs and others to fulfill their needs.. When our men protest they are called as terrorists and punished, and in most cased the natives themselves are made to believe that the rebellious men are bad. example: Socrates, Jesus of Nazareth and many more..

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