Literature

“A nice word is better than a nice mattress.”

– Oromo proverb from Ethiopia

Summer blues - by F Macha 2014

Freddy says

“I love books. I love reading. I love writing. During my first year of Secondary education at Ilboru, Arusha,  Tanzania, aged 14, I won two big prizes. First was taking part in the annual school long distance running, cross country competition, second reading most books in my class. Teachers were excellent in pushing us to read and run. Everything starts from how we are encouraged as children. I love reminding young people to love literature.”

Web- Freddy books and drums

Freddy on favourite art forms:

Literature and music are my two beloved art forms. I have always worked with them side by side. As a young journalist in late 1970s, I reviewed bands, songs, books and interviewed musicians. In 1980, I co-founded Sayari Cultural Troupe which fused several art forms through music and spoken word. Some people adore chocolate,  pets and cigarettes. Blending music and literature is my chocolate, biscuit and honey. “

WEB- Freddy Guit and Books

Freddy on the growth:

Over the years I have met similar minded creators of joy.  I have witnessed this magical work of e Jamaicans Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson- who I both interviewed in Brazil in 1993..Or the wonderful, Brazilian -Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso and the late Cameroon virtuoso, Farncis Bebey, who I bumped into in Germany in 1984. Another king of literature and music is Gil Scott Heron who I interviewed twice. There many others I admire, young (Bruno Mars), older and wiser (Leonard Cohen)…or that singer of the “Piano has been drinking”…Jazzman, pianist, actor, Tom Waits. To name a few.”

Freddy Macha, piano and Wole Soyinka-pic by Louisa Le Marchand, 2014

Prose and Poetry in English

 THE BOOK THAT SPOKE

When I was coming up the stairs

I passed a

Book that was left near the top

It had lots of cat’s hairs

“Hello do you remember me?”

I thought the book’s voice was familiar

Because I had heard it earlier. But

Where? I flicked through the pages and

Recalled a married woman dancing in the rain. Bangled

Hands in air

I had always stopped to

Look at a tree with green

Leaves. Ivy, actually. Venus.

Red-black- green seeds that

Looked like my mother’s

Head scarf. She used to

Wear that pretty, green-red-black scarf

When I was a little boy

Yes it was a lovely colour

Really, really lovely

Stoke Newington, London,  January, 2012

 WEB-Freddy books- pic by Louisa Le Marchand

 

WHY DO BEAUTIFUL WOMEN ALWAYS SMOKE?

 

1.

Your hair so fair;  eyes  dire; a fag you asked

A puff, ciggie,  a drag you shrilled and shrieked

Cars hurtled, men whistled, horns blazed

Like a hearty laughter sneaking out of the pub

I said maybe later;  I thought of tzatziki and wow!

Bites of lips feels better; you shrugged your eyes rolled and Oh!

How those drivers and I made you puke

Pigeons in flight; expensive chocolate; a fugitive’s look
Steaming coffee, pineapples gently cut- egg yolk

Now I am left wondering

Why do beautiful women always smoke?

 

Salad by F Macha 2013

Few weeks later; at airport waiting for the plane

Voila! Your eyes sparkling in Mirabella here again

You glide like a jazz trumpet- er; super model – special feminine cat

Hair waving, hands swinging, stilettos clack- clack- clack

Hiyai!  Singing on our way to Dubai

Gimme a cigarette! Uptight, nut or not?

Yes, you. Reincarnated Bruce Lee

Accusing “the bastards” for banning indoors smoking

But the plane was flying and I was left writing

Why do beautiful women always smoke?

 

3.

Years have flown; these days wonderful hair all gone

You wear a wig; always ill; skin, fallen all nil. Blue

Accident prone- blaming everyone.  Dad, mother, sister, nanny, ex-husband

Even the take- away chap who brought spaghetti macaroni and broke his collar bone

And the absent dad who wants your throat and throne

Suddenly, cigarettes are out of your vocabulary and everyone’s wrong

Yeah, time is a teacher and so we must all shake and fall and tumble and learn

You actually helped me sing this tune this song this tune

Why do beautiful women always smoke?

WEB-Freddy art and drums

SONG OF 1992

 

That day I had forgotten my

Guitar; therefore, as you can imagine

I wasn’t happy

Traffic was slow. Like constipation. In the bus

We heard

The driver on the phone with

His daughter now late to school

“I was in a hurry; did not finish my plate,” she told her furious dad.

The night before

Cheese and wine dances to Salsa music. Contemplate.

We had played

At this night spot. A great club with a

Guys in their 60’s

Women in their 20’s

The middle aged and an 80 year wise dude

With a large Rottweiler that sat still

Bringing memories of a house on a quiet street. Yes

They cheered and sang along –

Except for one sad lullaby about a two year old boy

Captured tortured murdered by

Two Liverpool hyenas in 1992.

I

Saw a sky forgetting to brush its teeth and

Heard

On the news that the two killers are grown up men with

Shirts of peace

Ill at ease

Enjoying CDs

In their living rooms

Drinking whisky

Playing Frisbees

Plotting misdeeds

Chewing biscuits

And a couple of girlfriends…

 

I WAS TALKING TO A SNAIL…

I was talking to a snail

Yes you may smile!

I saw a snail walking (or should I say) gliding

Near the rail

Not far from the major road

I felt sad

I said

Look dear fellow (assuming it was my sorrow)

Not concerned snail kept on strolling and sliding

As slow…slow…as a night train

But the sun was shining

All around other smudged and crashed snails lay

Gone and dead!

Squashed

Things

Smothered leaving zig -zagging trails of glass prints

I said to Honourable majestic snail

Be warned, you be gone quick

But snail did not even blink!

So slow …slow…slow…not bothered at all

With a large brown house on his back

(Or should I say her track)

Snails love it

Patient

Slow…slow… peaceful, trot

Then I heard the car coming!

Getting closer and closer

Trruuuuum….

I turned my head

Too scared to share

Then squash, bash, clash, splash, squelch….chhhchchchch!

 

 

London, June 2012

 

 

THE FLY ON MY WINDOW

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

I held a can of insecticide in my hand

Ready to spray it dead

…. Flies  can be very fast… The fly, looked into my eye with a sigh said: “Hi!”

Such a big voice.  Rolls Royce. Rejoice.

Before you chase me with that angel of death may I ask you something?”

Little thing. Such a gargantuan voice?

“What are you goin to say? There is nothing here for you!

Get out of my house; you spread diseases!”

I held the can of insecticide. Ready to spray him dead.

He flew from the window to my feet.

“I have flown all the way from Australia. On Alitalia. To Italia. When I was in Rome. I could smell your fume. Your toes are smelly. You need to cut your nails. I have powerful nostrils you know.”

Woow! I was surprised.  I had not cut my nails for months. Phlegm. Mud in her boots. Soot in fingertips. How did this creature know?

“Go away, you have bacteria! You are useless!”

Darting again to the window curtain. Fly looked into my eye with a sigh said:

Before you spray me with that poison in your hand- may I ask you something?”

Little thing. Such a huge voice.

“What are you goin to say? There is nothing here for you!

Get out you spread diseases. You are useless!”

SHHHSSSS…i sprayed it.

Flying from the window curtains to the corner of the wall- The fly looked into my eye and with a sigh, replied: “Oi. That really hurt my wings. I have a right as an insect. To eat. Dirt.  You know your toilet? You always forget to flush your toilet. You people always forget to flush your toilets and leave the toilet seats open too. And, and,  and…you throw your socks and things around…”

I was surprised. Yes. We forget to flash the toilet, most times.

It was really smelly in there. In fact I was ashamed. But am always busy. I have to work. No time.   But I am not going to tell this insect I am embarrassed. Would you?

“OK. I shall clean my feet and flash my toilet and now can you go away please?” I held the can of insecticide. Ready to spray him dead.

Fluttering wings the fly looked into my eye and with a sigh said.

“Before I go can I ask something?”

This would be the last request, I said, furiously.   No more cheeky comments about my house being dirty.

I have a gang of friends hanging outside. We have been watching and smelling your dustbin. We could smell it from really far. Your dogs foul the roads. Revellers throw fried chicken and chips on the streets on weekends.  We won’t charge you. Could we have a bit of the rubbish in your bin, please?”

The thought of gangs freaked me out. Images of guns, tattoos, drugs and menacing faces crawled in my thoughts.

I promised to take out the rubbish and be as clean as possible. Condemned waiting to be pardoned…

I can still hear the flies bursting with laughter as they zoomed off to another dirty house down the road.

 

Hayes, 29th April, 2012

 

BEAUTYFULL SONGS

 

One of those familiar moments.

Five o’clock, rush hour; everyone tired; strained and spent; very, very keen to get  home. Keen to recharge. This is London; London of trains, buses, cars, fire sirens, ambulance sirens, police sirens; car music speakers, road rage glares and screams, impatience, smiles and sorrows; voices, languages, three hundred languages.

We are in the underground train. These trains have been here since 1863, right? Time knows where God is; wise dog, template for knowledge; endless and long and mighty.

We are going to look inside this train.

Gari Moshi- by F Macha 2014

Can you see those two women? Which ones? What are you suggesting? We are going to listen.

The thin and fat one; brunette and blonde: between them a pram and squashed, in this pram- a smiling baby and shopping bags. Loads of shopping bags. The baby is busy doing baby talk and that my dear friend is the only sensible, audible sound in this moving machine. This little bud, pink and delicate is doing us a great service; though we might be thankless vacuum cleaners. So lovely to hear this baby talk. But why are the two women so anxious?  Anxiety is worse than a snake bite.

And you know what? Space is such a beautiful word. If only we could have more space.  Space is paradise.

There he is.

The man with the book and a whip. He just came and inserted his huge bulk at the tiny berth; between the pram and shopping bags and those… two women. Who cares?

Surprised dear ladies?

Of course, we are surprised. How dare you ask? He did not ask, so why should you?

The mother just winced as the man hemmed himself dangerously towards the push chair; the expression on her concerned face is like an I Phone. Details.  And he continues reading.

What a wonderful book.

In a bid to protect the baby her companion scoops her carrier bags out of the way. Maybe we were naïve to think that the bloke would say thanks; but the book is much, much more precious. Think  warm bed sheets in winter. The women have exchanged several glances; they have made faces, they have nudged each other, they have sighed; now they tilt heads and roll  eyes.

What should they say?

You mean what would they say to the reading guy?

To piss off?

Everyone else is trying to do something else; read the paper, tap their smart phones, look at their nails, sing a song of silence in this crowded farrago, this very familiar scene. We are just travelling; soon it will all be over. Worse could happen. Lurking terrorists. Don’t start.  Delays. Please…could be worse.  We are all chanting that common ugly song by Mayor Boris Johnson. Look away. Don’t get involved.  Time for you to test your imagination, my dear friend. Picture yourself growing these ridiculously long arms made of rubber and magnetic chains; stretching to ensnare the man with an aura of puke and pulling him out; perch him over a…a…ah… that tree branch; tie him up the roof of the red double decker bus; make him sneeze; squeeze his nuts; make him wheeze; turn into a Jeremy Paxman- just for one BBC moment- drill and interview this bookworm; dig his ego and thoughts.

“That is a very lousy book, sir!”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I said your book is rubbish!”

“Are you nuts or something?” Pause. “Piss Off!”

“Of course I am nuts. Have you been to Mexico?”

“Mexico?”

(His face is turning into one puffy red rubber ball; the two sockets are moving, shoulders hunched forward; wish we could all be animals; his tail would be wagging).

“I asked you a question.”

“What question?”

“Have you been to Japan?”

“I have never been to Japan.”

“Do you know the Gambia?”

“Where is that?”

“What about St Lucia?”

“I am not Amy Winehouse. I don’t take drugs!”

(What a prat, she can at least sing, for a living. What does he do? Bully ladies in trains?)

“Want a beer?”

“There are a lot of insane people in these trains,” he is waking up now.

See how we have managed to disengage the chap from his paradise?

“Have you been to India?”

Shakes his head. He is getting restless too.

“They got manners over there.”

“Piss off!”

You, tried, dear reader. You certainly have guts.

Then we were awakened from this reverie. The fantasy. Out of nowhere, a voice, a voice of a real man; not the dreams and fear of reprisals.

“There is a space over there…”

“I beg your pardon?”

The man with the book wanted (as the rest of us) to know.

“You could sit over there,” the chap pointed at two empty spaces two meters away. There is space in this train. A vacancy. Someone must have got out at Warren Street. This is the Victoria Line. Blue.

The middle aged chap is very frail; has a walking stick. You know the type.

He is still talking.

“You are squeezing the baby; those ladies are too scared to tell you.”

What audacity.  This is how society should be; folk speaking out against crass manners.

Can you see one of the ladies gesturing at the frail gentleman? As if to tell him not to worry? This is the stuff that breeds blades in this city.  Knives.

Arrogant, self assured the reading man booms: “I sit where I want! Mind your business!”

We are going to have to zip- up.

Very quietly; our faces and bodies freeze once again. This is our motto.

And what about the reading man? He has just put the book aside and gone to sleep.  The two women are really looking uncomfortable.

The child in the pram is still doing that familiar talk and singing that familiar, beautiful baby song.

 

London, 12th January 2010

Buses in London by F Macha

MULTIPLE LANGUAGES – Prose and Poetry

Chaque Matin     

( from Kitoto Album, Canada 1995 – French, Portuguese, Swahili, English)

Chaque matin

Qand je me réveille

Je ne me souviens  plus mes reves

 

Mas qand je vais dormir

Tous les jours

Je me souviens de tout ce qui s’est passé pendant la journée

Les mensonges et les vérités

Chambua Karanga- by FMacha

 

Cada manha

Quando eu acordar

Eu não me lembro

O que sonhei

 

 

Mas quando eu vá para a cama

Lembro-me de todas

As mentiras e as verdades

 

Kila niamkapo asubuhi

Sikumbuki n’lichokiota

 

Walakin saa ya kulala ikiwadia

Hukumbuka yote

Ya uongo na kweli

 

Each morning

When I wake up

I dont remember what I dreamt last night

But whenever i go to bed

I remember all the lies and truths

©Freddy Macha, Quebec, Canada, 1995      

 Soul to Soul Festival, Copenhagen, 1985

 

 

 

 

Live poetry performance during Soul to Soul African festival, Copenhagen, Summer 1985. Pic by Jorn Stjerneklar.

Afro- Deutsche     

(Gespielt auf Klavier,Djembe oder Gitarre Musik)

 

An einem der kältesten Wintertage

Kam sie in die Straßenbahn

Setzte sich lächelnd neben mich

glänzende Zähne lange Rasta –Frisur

Eine Tasche voller Puppen & Lebensmittlepakete

Unter dem Arm

 

Sie blickte nicht kalt und nachdenklich

Wie man es im Westen sieht

Menschen wie Steine

Grüßen nur aber nicht mehr

Murmeln nur “tschuldigung” wenn sie dir auf den Fuß getreten sind

Ich wollte dich nicht berühren

Anderer Menschenstein

aber

Die bräunliche Frau mit dem Rasta- Haar

War freundlich und gesprächig

Sagte ihr Vater habe sich wieder nach Westafrika aus dem Staube gemacht

Sobald sie geboren war vor 35 Jahren

Ließ ihre deutsche Mutter mit dem Kind sitzen

Verletzt klagend bestürtzt

Beschimpft von den Weißen daß sie so dumm gewesen war

Sich so mit einem Neger einzulassen

Mellon by F Macha

Sie wuchs auf

mit Mamis Sprache

bis ihre deutsche Mami vor fünf Jahren starb

ihr Mann den sie vor acht Jahren geheiratet hat

ist immer nur besoffen

und deshalb hat sie disen afrikanischen Freund

der manchmal ihren beiden Kindern Eis kauft und mit ihnen spazieren geht

 

aber er ist selbst so depressiv

spricht immerzu über Afrika

in den ganzen vier Jahren hier

nichts als Abneigung gegen diese “unfreundlichen Leute”

obwohl Afrika überquillt von korrupte und Militärregierungen, & Expatriates

die wie Touristenkönige leben

wenn man etwas sagt verfault man in der haft

er ist zu wütend um sie zu lieben

 

auf der Suche nach ihren Wurzeln

ging sie nach Togo, Mali & Ghana

wo sie von den Leuten wie eine Fremde behandelt wurde

eine verlorene  Europäerin

& die Deutschen deren Blut sie hat

Nennen sie

Eine dieser Billigen Schwarzen Schlampen!

Eine dieser Billigen Schwarzen Schlampen!

Eine dieser Billigen Schwarzen Schlampen!

 ©Freddy Macha, Cologne, Germany, 1985   

 WEB-Freddy Guitar deeply

 

 

Afro- German

 

(played to piano or guitar)

 

 On one of the coldest days of winter

 

She came to the tram

 

Sat smiling beside me

 

shiny teeth long rasta hairstyle

 

A bag full of doll & packets of food

 

under her arms

 

WEB- Freddy Bass-2

 

She  did not have that  cold and pensive look

 

You always see in the West

 

People like stones

 

Only giving greetings, but no more,

 

Only muttering  “sorry” when they are you stepping on your toe

 

It wasnt my intention  to touch you

 

Fellow human stone

 

 

Anyway

 

Brownish Rasta haired  woman

 

Was friendly and talkative

 

Said  her father had fled ​back to West Africa

 

As soon as she was born 35 years ago

 

Left her with her German mother

 

Ailing wailing dismayed

 

Abused by whites that she had been so stupid

 

To be involved with a Nigger

 

 

 

She grew up

 

with mums language

 

till her German mom died five years ago

 

her husband whom she has been married for eight years now

 

is always drunk

 

Incidentally she  has this African friend

 

Who sometimes buys her two children ice cream and takes them for walks

 

 

 

However  he is too depressed

 

always talks about Africa

 

his four years here have been

 

nothing but distaste for these “unfriendly people”

 

while Africa is filled with military corrupt governments &

 

expatriates who live like tourist kings

 

if you say something you rot in prison

 

he is too angry to love her

 

 

 

Searching her roots

 

she went to Togo, Mali and Ghana

 

where she was treated by the people as a stranger

 

a lost European

 

& The Germans whose blood she has

 

Call her

 

One of those cheap black sluts!

 

One of those cheap black sluts!

 

One of those cheap black sluts!

 

 ©Freddy Macha, Cologne, Germany, 1985   

 

Freddy plays music with, singers Rashid Othman, Mecky Kiwelu-Ilboru, Arusha 1972-pic by E Yuda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Early  days. With fellow musicians, singer-songwriter Rashid “Mado” Othman and the late Mike Kiwelu, Ilboru Secondary School, 1972. Pic by Emmanuel Yuda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Literature

  1. INVOCAVIT SILAA

    Natamani kuwa kama Freddy.

    Siku zote nimekuwa nikijibidiisha sana kuandika tungo ndogondogo za mashairi,nyimbo,hadithi na maigizo.

    Bado nasonga mbele,
    najifunza kwako kaka Freddy Macha,

    katu sikati tamaa.

    Ee Mwenyezi MUNGU nisaidie.

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