top of page

Sankofa: Night at the Apollo made me think of Mandela

In May of 2009, I, along with 11 other young writers in NYC were chosen to travel to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela. Two weeks ago at the Apollo for the Young Producers Club's night of activating change, I thought of Mandela. I thought of his legacy. His impact on world history. I thought how performing at the Apollo was such a milestone in my poetic journey. Who knew submitting my poem 45 mins before deadline of the writing contest would get me to South Africa. Who knew 8 years later, I would still be writing and performing in the name of revolutionary change. At 14, I had spunk, I was spicy, and called out everything that was unjust . Through poetry I channeled my frustrations and confusion into lyrical creativity. My poetry journey really started, more so publicly, after meeting Mandela. I found slam poetry, then Urban Lyrics, and now I am finding myself through poetry. I thought to share the poem I wrote. Circling back feels right. Feels like Sankofa. Examining where I came from/ where I was at age 14 and where I am now at 22. Its always embarrassing to read this poem because I would never write like this now. But as I stated - Sankofa is necessary. Shout-outs to 14 year old me. I remember how dope she was...

Nelson Mandela

A strong man that overcame his struggle

That fought and went through hell in South Africa’s trouble

About 800 miles east of Cape Town, born and raised in Transkei.

A warrior, a leader, who he later grew up to be

Soon qualified in Law in 1942

Joined the ANC accomplishing what he could do

With the Mentality of Anti-Apartheid

He experienced oppression on the other side

For so he was black

No one thought to think twice or to look back

He supported his people, attending to their every need

Even though they were pierced with daggers and their hearts began to bleed

In 1964 an obstacle occurred

Where everything just came to a pause and a sudden blur

From 1964 to 1990 he was incarcerated

Unlike any other he was supported by his people and not hated

After he was released he was dedicated to his work

Outstandingly he eliminated his opponents with a smirk

The opponents that kept him and his people from a good night’s rest

With his people chanting, “Mandela’s the best!”

Yes! It was Long Walk to Freedom

With Mandela’s spirit to go and beat’em

Was the start of a new South Africa when it began to rise

Now in his hand is the Noble Peace Prize

He stood for quality, justice, and forgiveness

Attending to his work and business.

Just as Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, they all fought to make the world a better place.

I too can make a difference in my community with this one face

Gangs in the Bronx are clashing like waves crashing on to land

If it were up to me I would have all gangs banned

Racism contiguously spreads and affects around the world like a disease

That didn’t think to stop, halt or cease.

Mandela’s way inspired me to have a difference in my community

To bring to the world peace, love, and unity

bottom of page