Middle of Nowhere Productions

Middle of Nowhere Productions

Hugh Masakela: Stimela.


There is a train that comes from Namibia and Malawi,
there is a train that comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe,
There is a train that comes from Angola and Mozambique,
From Lesotho, from Botswana, from Zwaziland,
From all the hinterlands of Southern and Central Africa.
This train carries young and old African men
Who are conscripted to come and work on contract in the golden mineral mines of Johannesburg
And its surrounding metropoli.

Sixteen hours or more a day for almost no pay.
Deep, deep, deep down in the belly of the earth
When they are digging and drilling for that shiny mighty evasive stone,
Or when they dish that mish-mesh mush food into their iron plates with the iron shank.
Or when they sit in their stinking, funky, filthy, flea-ridden barracks and hostels.
They think about the loved ones they may never see again

Because they might already have been forcibly removed from where they last left them,
Or wantonly murdered in the dead of night by roving and marauding gangs of no particular origin.
We are told.

They think about their lands and their herds that were taken away from them
With the gun, and the bomb, and the teargas and the Gatling,

And the cannon.
And when they hear that Choo-Choo train,

A-chucking and a-puffing and a-smoking and a-wooshing and a-popping and a-crying

and a-stinking and a-chinking and a... whoo, whoo!
They always cuss,

And they curse the coal train,
The coal train that brought them to Johannesburg.

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