FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poet of the Week from Zaire (DRC)/Angola: Makuzayi Massaki

Updated 27 November with information from a comment by a family member.

Poet of the Week from Angola (though he was born in DRC): Makuzayi Massaki:

Strangely enough I chose this poet (and poem in particular) as my poet of the week because of a Somali cab driver.  This past Saturday my lovely bride and I grabbed a cab down to Chinatown (big mistake by the waywe managed to snag the most lethargic driver in DCand one with the worst decision making skills—he took us down 7th the whole way instead of going down 9th and cutting over).  However, the lengthy drive did allow us to have a lengthy discussion with our driver about his background. 

He hadn’t been back to Somalia in 18 years.  He moved here from Dallas to work a four-year contract at the Somali Embassy.  When that expired he was able to claim some type of asylum and recently became an American citizen.  That whole process was a little hazy and I thought it best not to ask too many questions.  Plus he was one of the slowest drivers in DC...I think the speed of the cab was inversely proportional to the speed of his mouth.

Anyway, the point of all this is that now that he has his American citizenship he is excited that he can finally return to visit his country.  I personally can’t imagine how hard it would be to not have returned to your country in almost two decades.

Side Note:  We also got into an interesting discussion into the long-suffering native Jewish population that used to exist in Ethiopia as well as a discussion on his Orthodox Christian backgroundbut that’s for another post.

Regressado*, yes, I am by Makuzayi Massaki

Regressado, yes I am
For my gestures reveal my ties
To the land of my memory

Regressado, yes I am
For return has always been the goal
Of my life in exile

Regressado, yes I am
For it was there from whence I return
That I organized the struggle
To liberate this land

Regressado, yes I am
For my name rhymes with Kimpa Vita
Nzinga, Buta, Ekwikwi and Mandume Y

Regressado, yes I am
For only where my ancestor sleeps
Can I build my house

Regressado, yes I am
For have done nothing else but return
To my point of departure.

*Literally, one who returns whence he came, used pejoratively of those returning to Angola after the war of independence.

Makuzayi Massaki was born in Matadi, Congo (formerly Zaire) in 1950 and died in March 2003, a few month after his book "Le Conflit Angolais" was published.   His father was a journalist and founded the early socialist party, the PDA (they thought people should have the right to hold hands wherever they wanted).  While in exile Massaki taught Angolan refugee children in Kinshasa.  He then returned and joined the military wing of the FNLA 1974.  He also wrote a book entitled Le Conflit Angolais (The Angolan Conflict).

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    We saw your article in 2012. You can't find any information on Makuzayi Massaki simply because he died in March 2003 in France a few months after the book "le conflit angolais" was published. We thank you for having chosen one of his poem in 2011. One more thing, Makuzayi Massaki was born in 1950 in Matadi, situtated in Congo(former Zaire) and not in Angola. He lived in Zaire, Kenya and France.
    Family member