Literary Translation

I’m Inspired by Bongo Khwelo Flepu

 

Gloss: The version of the poem that appears on the left-hand side of the page is Bongo's original version, as prepared for performance. The version on the right-hand side is a "translation", prepared for print in collaboration with Annel Pieterse.

 

I'm Inspired

Ghetto i’m inspired
By retired basking the sun,
Drinking their aged lives and time left for fun,
To be of taught to the youth,
They sing the very same song of the sedated wild.

Ghetto i’m inspired
By the young on the street corners
Speaking in poor mans language,
Their souls laid on the shebeen floors and
Skulls hanged on the drug lords’ doors, for what?

Ghetto i’m inspired not
By foreign trained achievers, “intellects” as known
Who abandoned the drain reeking and leaking
TB cooking pots slums for suburban life,

The very same brothers,
Who to liberate ghetto child,
They steal from them have not’s and
Abuse the defenseless young, for what?

Ghetto i’m inspired
By Roofers and Sticky fingers,
Who when they Scored, they show-off their G-strings and
Boom-off the sorrow from the grimed face,
Grieving ghetto with sound:

Ghetto i’m inspired
By brothers schooled in Tsotsi Colleges,
Who graduated in Max-Varsities for iNumber,
The role models of ghetto child,
Who freely pass their knowledge and
Recruit the unemployed young;

Ghetto
By these Cells i’m inspired.

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i'm inspired

Ghetto
i'm inspired:
The retired, basking in the sun
drinking their aged lives
the time left is for fun.
To teach the youth,
they sing the very same song of the sedated wild.

Ghetto
i’m inspired:
By the young on the street corners
speaking in poor man's language,
their souls laid on the shebeen floors and
skulls hanged on the drug lords’ doors,
for what?

Ghetto
i’m inspired, yes.

i'm inspired not
By foreign-trained achievers,
“intellects”
Who abandon the drain-reeking, leaking, TB cooking pot slums
for suburban life.

These same brothers
Don't liberate the ghetto child,
but steal from the have-nots
Abuse the defenseless young,
for what?

Ghetto
i’m inspired:
By Roofers and Sticky fingers;
When they've Scored, they show-off their G-strings
and Boom-off the sorrow
from the grimed face
of the grieving ghetto.

Ghetto
i’m inspired:
By brothers schooled in Tsotsi Colleges,
Who graduated in Max-Varsities for iNumber,
The role models of ghetto child,
Who freely pass their knowledge and
Recruit the unemployed young;

Ghetto
By these Cells i’m inspired.

Glossary

Poor man's language – speech of the hopeless,
TB cooking pots – Steel made community dumping bins (mostly in townships)
Have nots – disadvantaged people (people who have nothing)
Roofers and Sticky fingers – house breakers
G-strings – BMW 3series
Tsotsi colleges – Holding cells/ juvenile prisons
Max Varsities – maximum prisons,
iNumber – prison sacred-secret language

unnamed

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