Mgcineni Noki, Mambush (A poem)

Mgcineni Noki, Mambush* (A poem by Michael van Niekerk)

Who is that man,

that man in the green blanket?

Is he just a man?

Is he the creation

of a broken mind – national mind, local mind, black mind, white mind, true mind,

false mind?

Is he an image of the thing – that thing, you know that thing, the thing we struggle to

express, or understand, or write, or pray, that thing we call freedom, or dignity, or God?

Is he the meaning of life itself – the deconstructed, waded-through, raw meaning of:

life and death, everything, the thing, you know that thing, that thing caught in the

chaos of this land: isn’t that what life is, I’m sure it is, I’m sure that life is only life

when it has faced death and confronted it by gaining life through death

and giving life through death so that others may live?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

Could that man,

that man in the green blanket,

Could he ever be just a man,

that man in the green blanket

eternally standing upon the scorched earth of murdered Marikana?


Aside, questions, aside:

his wife and child,

his family beyond,

his comrades,

his village of Thwalikhulu – with its sunlit green hills risen high upon the rim of those

Eastern skies:

they know him as Mgcineni Noki,

they know him as Mambush,

they know him as just a man,

Just a man.

Yet perhaps what will shake the foundations of this Azanian earth and uproot its

entangled existence and lift its mountains and rivers and valleys unto a new world

will be just a man.

Perhaps, just a man.

Yet for now

we wait…

we prepare…

quivering… quivering… quivering…

all for that moment – that moment, you know that moment, that moment we all

secretly long for, that moment we all constantly contradict, that moment,

come please, come, please, come now.


Michael van Niekerk – Izwe Lethu

* For more information on Mgcineni Noki and the murdered miners of Marikana, here is a helpful place to start:





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