Africa

“Peau-eme” (Poem)

Voici ma PEAU, Ma PEAU’litique, Ma PEAU’ésie,

Mon étoile jaune.

Mon étoile jaune à moi, c’est ma PEAU,

mais ma PEAU, n’a pas de POT.

 PEAU, PÔ’stiche, je ne peux masquer ma PEAU.

PEAU noire, masque blanc, PEAU d’âne, PEAU de chagrin,

Sommes-nous les damnés de la terre ?

Remarque ! Remarque comme j’ai la PEAU dure, tel le

tambour bélè ou le tambour gwo kâ. Regarde ! Regarde un peu ma PEAU !

Ma PO’sition sur les anneaux de l’olympe.

Je suis imPO’sable et je n’ai toujours pas de POT.

NaPO ! NaBOT ! (rappelez-moi son nom ?) NaPÔ’léon ! Y’a bon NaBÔ’léon !

Je suis le POT de terre, Terre nourricière, terre d’Afrique, AVEC ! Avec le POT de fer, dont la terre se nourrit, avec le temps, avec beaucoup de temps ; Mais je ne vais pas pleurer sur ma PEAU, car avec ma PEAU, avec mon POT, je PO’sitive, car le noir, LE NOIR ME VA SI BIEN.

Translation

(I am translating literally, so it takes away some of the raw symbolism & profound puns)

Here is my skin, my politic, my poetry, my yellow star

My yellow star, to me, is my skin, but my skin has no pot

Skin, hairpiece, I cannot mask my skin

Black skin, white mask, donkey’s skin, skin of grief

Are we the damnèd of the earth?

See! See how I have tough skin, such as the

bèle drum or the gwo kâ drum.

See! See my positions on the

Olympic rings

I’m not imposable, and I still do not have a pot

NaPo*? Midget! (remind me his name?) There’s good Napoleon!*

I am the pot of the earth, black earth, African earth

With! With the iron pot, that feeds the earth

with the weather; with plenty time; but I will

not cry on my skin, because with my skin, my pot,

I’m positive, black suits me well.

– Anon

Interpretations:

Forgive my translation errors, the poem is so rich and symbolic in the actual French it is hard to derive anything close to the strong meaning, puns and lyricism it has in English!

*An image of note is his use of “l’étoile jaune” the yellow star, that the Nazis used to identify Jews during the Holocaust.

* His use of donkey skin, hairpiece, pot, the skin of drums – symbolic of coverings whose exterior say nothing about the interior or usefulness.

* Wordplay on Napoleon. 

To tell you the truth, translation destroys the poem! Thanks, Metty.

Credits for showing me this poem – Akua Agyen, my lovely sister. 🙂

 

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