Born 3,600 million years ago,
I am the oldest and most stable land mass on earth.
I am so large that the mightiest nation on earth
could fit into a desert of mine.
My oldest rocks bequeath such wealth,
I am well-endowed.
Too well-endowed for my own good.
My geology deposited an abundance of riches within my borders,
Gold, diamonds copper, coltan, tin. I can’t remember them all.
I am too old.
Some of you left me 100,000 years ago to colonise other lands.
And yet, when my European descendants first landed on my shores,
you did not know me.
There was no sense of returning home.
I was inhospitable, holding you northerners off for as long as I could,
sensing your white-skinned, thick-blooded rapaciousness.
After stealing quinine from other native peoples to curb malaria.
You enslaved my people, with the help of your African partners,
I’m ashamed to say.
I was deepest darkest Africa, Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’,
but I seduced, beckoning with dreams of rich spoils and lavish booty.
I was depopulated, condemned to apathy,
large areas desolate, deserted;
relations between those left behind poisoned,
propagating hatred, inflaming wars. The strong overpowering the weak,
selling them in the market place and leaving a permanent scar on my
An inferiority complex, if you like.
My people were the other, sub-human,
to be exploited for their labour, then disposed of.
The philosophy that inspired Auschwitz and Treblinka was formulated here;
obsessive contempt and brutality, vileness and hatred.
A world-wide enterprise really, for Europe, the Americas and Asia.
I’m told I’m a basket case, my people lazy, a monocultural mess
waiting for Westerners to come and clean up,
when it is with their labour, you laid the foundations for your power-houses.
You in the West assume I carry a disaster gene
when you wallow in your bath of ill-informed nostalgia.
You forget that when you partitioned, you brutally unified my people
with fire and sword.
Ten thousand states, reduced to fifty.
And of course they bickered and fought and sometimes killed,
as large families often do. They were not noble savages.
When your colonial regimes departed, you left me with frontiers ripe
for ethnic cleansing;
with your political engineering that cemented loose ethnic groupings
into fiercely nationalistic tribes;
with vast inequality in land and wealth
that led to instant corruption of political elites that you supported.
Your governments which so often helped them into their palaces,
overlooking their cruelty and corruption for the sake of strategic
When you were engaged in your Cold War, you waged most of it within my borders;
A not-so-cold war.
You backed one authoritarian monster after another,
Littering my streets with corpses.
Now you want to save me.
Brand new white Land Rovers criss-cross my dusty streets
Bringing your self-serving ‘aid’ to my starving people.
My large scale famines a ‘growth opportunity’ for your charities to
Your reporters crouch by emaciated babies, cameras zooming in
on victims of ethnic cleaning, hooked, a constant search for tragedy.
Geldoff, Sting, Bono, we’re being Band-aided.
You hold concerts. Forgive their debts, you say.
My people laugh and tears stream down their cheeks.
Even I summon a mirthless rumble.
You in the West, do your accounting. Add up your ledgers, balance your books.
You’ve taken much more from me than we ever need to repay.
My bill is yet to come. YOU OWE ME!
by MarionRick Grammer