Poem: Black Ghosts

Black Ghosts.
On the intersection of Freedom & Capital.
Not dead, but not living;
Just there.

Actors on an asphalt stage
By-products of systemic disadvantage
Comic relief;
From the daily dramas – starring us.

‘But I’ve heard they make a killing’
Maybe thousands every month
Just escaping life’s certainties
Taxes, death, and
‘Change please baba – even 5 cent is fine’

Black Ghosts.
Taunting us in broad daylight,
Haunting us by night.
The price we pay for privilege,
The cost incurred for comfort.

They confuse,
Attention for dignity,
Like we confuse
Sex for love
Money for wealth
Church for God
Change for charity.

Black Ghosts.
On the intersection of Freedom & Capital.
Or is it Mandela & Biko now?



About uzanokuhle

uza nokuhle
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7 Responses to Poem: Black Ghosts

  1. thefeatheredsleep says:


  2. thefeatheredsleep says:

    I felt you were talking about the lives of innocents lost because of war and strife, and juxtaposed the idea of an ashen ghost, a black life, a darkness that is badness, and a darkness that is hope. Sort of playing the idea of suffering with those who exist now, who came before, and how they all lend their history. Was I at all close?, it’s a truly beautiful poem♡

    • uzanokuhle says:

      Interesting – thank you for sharing! Yes very close –

      Every year there seems to be a growing number of beggars on the streets of Johannesburg (South Africa), and they all stand at street intersections waiting for motorists to give them money. They’re certainly innocent lives lost because of the economic war & strife being fought here in Johannesburg, the so-called economic capital of Africa.

      There’s this awkwardness about them here because they’re ‘in your face’ – almost as if a visual representation of our greed and our internal darkness as a society that can’t help its most vulnerable citizens. On the topic of money, there’s the growing (but wrong) belief that many of them are just young people who’ve chosen to make a quick buck by begging instead of looking for work (we’ve got a *ridiculously* high young unemployment rate of something like 50% so it’s almost impossibly difficult to find a jobs).

      As for them being black ghosts – ‘ghosts’ because most motorists just ignore them as if they’re completely invisible and because it seems like their dreams and aspirations have died inside them, and ‘black’ because race or rather skin colour is a huge issue here in South Africa. Most of them are black which is understandable because most of the country is black, but one can’t look at their level of poverty and think that apartheid (the system of legalised racial oppression that South Africa underwent until 1994) contributed to this poverty.

      There’s a lot more I could say – I’ve tried to be concise and there’s a lot I’ve left out. Lol. it’s really a burning issue for me. Ultimalty, my hope is that South Africa (and the world as a whole) will be able to solve the issue of poverty by being a society that cares more for our fellow human beings, and less for money and the comforts that come with it. Otherwise we’ll continue to be haunted by these proverbial black ghosts whose lives are effectively lost to our fight for ‘the good life’.

      • thefeatheredsleep says:

        Thank you♡ my friend grew up in Port Elizabeth and says much the same. My family are from Egypt on one side, the judging of people who beg is rampant and very unfair. Yours was a beautiful poen that highlights the suffering, I really appreciate learning more and thank you for that.♡

    • uzanokuhle says:

      Here’s a video as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EptrcicrVQs

      (Note: Johannesburg is a truly beautiful city with many amazing and kind-hearted people in it. That said, there’s a huge gap between rich and poor here and we’ve failed dismally to fix it. As a result, we have lots of these beggars like these on our streets – and lots of people spectating them from the comfort of their cars).

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