Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

The African, The American

Enlarge poem

Some people desire to inquire
What my name means because it sounds so “powerful:”
“OMéKONGO”
Like I need to play some drums when I say it

Others ask if it’s my “birth name”
As if it’s any of their business
But short of the intrinsic inclination to input inhabitants in
Pre-determined non-pensive packages
Few people ask me what it’s actually like
To be an American in Africa,
And an African in America

’Cause for real,
I feel like I need to relocate
To the center of the Atlantic Ocean
Because I am truly caught in the middle

The African, the American…
I’m remixing Angie Palmer’s words
From “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor”
To “I’ve been dissed and I’ve been torn”
Because I’ve been torn between being
Called the American nigga and the African bushboogie

I’m torn between having to speak “African”
To prove I’m African in America
And speaking French
To prove that I’m African
In francophone African countries
What???!!!

I’m torn between the gangs
And the “tribes” both practicing ethnic cleansing
I’m torn between seeing one set
Of my belabored brothers die for hot diamonds
And my other beleaguered brothers
Living to be iced out
But it still doesn’t even out

I’m torn between
Trafficked African sex slaves having hymens torn
And American child porn
I’m torn between
Dealing with the child soldier
And the child gang-banger on the corner

I’m torn between
Dealing with African military leaders
Showing our kids they don’t need school to rule
And rap artists telling our kids
They don’t need school to be rich or cool

I’m torn between
Corporations using both
My communities as a toxic ditch
I’m torn between “I’m Mobutu Sese Seko”
And “I’m Rick James, Bitch!”

And I don’t know
Whether to laugh or cry sis’
Because as proud as I am
To be who I am,
I sometimes feel like
I have an identity cri-sis

Now I know why
I’m so fond of “Transformers” cartoons
’Cause the way folks want me
To change up,
I might as well change my name
From Omékongo to “Optimus Dibinga”
Until people realize that
In getting past my name and frame,
There’s “more than meets the eye”

But whether I be the American countryman
Or the transcontinental African
I know that both identities
End in “I-Can”

So I know I can be, be me,
Let my words do the talking,
And my actions do the walking

Because I will never fit into your box
Whether I got a fade or some locks
So when you’re trying to figure out who I am,
And which stereotypical categories I cover,
I’ll be covered in content
If you just called me, “That brother”

Omekongo wa Dibinga

Featured Poem:

Everywhere & Nowhere / Pulse of the Motherland

Enlarge poem

Everywhere & Nowhere

Congo in our Playstation
Congo in our cell phones
Congo in our air planes
Congo in our space shuttles
Congo in our computers
Congo in our furnaces
Congo- everywhere and nowhere at the same time
Because Congo is not in our mind

Pulse of the Motherland

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover
But it has become appallingly clear
That you can judge an entire continent
By its media coverage

You can color a whole continent dark
With the paint of poorly placed perception
When you rely on the media
To teach you your Africa lessons

Because I come from a continent,
That the world thinks is a country
And to put it bluntly,
We’re all HIV positive
Until proven negative
In the eyes of the media

It’s like Africa is either one big safari
Or Kalahari with seethin’ heathens
With no sense of religion
And home to animals and animism

Because TV renditions of African afflictions
Have created a depiction
Of a land of savages
Where the world’s most dreadful diseases
Exceed the law of averages
And since American TV
Only shows the ravages of a select few nations
Most Americans juxtapose the mother of civilization
With phrases like “damnation” and “starvation”

So if we don’t control our own images,
We can’t expect to see
A true representation of our beauty

Most non-Africans believe that the most
Africa has given to the world
Are phrases like “Hakuna mtata”
And “Asante sana squash banana”
Along with exotic vacations in remote locations
‘Cause I’ve never heard an American TV news station
Even say we’re made up of 54 nations

In the eyes of the media,
We’re just underdeveloped wannabe Caucasians
Still searching for civilization
If you buy the media’s interpretation
Of who we are
But am I taking this too far?

Because to me,
The real problem be the WB, ABC, & NBC
Which are the real WMD:
Weapons of Mind Destruction

Because too many people
Including many Africans
See what they see
Through the smart bombs they call TV
And it’s not just the newscasts,
It starts at age 3

Because I grew up
Watching images of Bugs Bunny
Dressed in grass skirts and black face
Speaking in “African dialects”
And every 10 years,
There’s a new version of Tarzan on the TV set

And I don’t know about y’all,
But I recall seeing gorillas pass for Africans
In those “Tin-Tin” cartoons
And if you remove
Marvin Martians’ helmet from Looney Tunes
He’s probably an African illegal alien
Or a fallen, faithless, famine-stricken African child
With his stomach protruded

And it’s these convoluted characterizations
That have helped in creating grown-up policy makers
Who partially base their opinions of our homeland
From films such as “Congo”,
“Gorillas in the Midst” and “The Air up There”
And we can’t forget “Tears of the Sun”
Which left too many tears on the sons and daughters of Africa,
Searching for a beautiful representation
Of our native land

But that won’t happen until we Africans
Take responsibility for our portrayal
Because the betrayal of our friends
From FOX, CBS, and CNN
Means we will never see-an-end
To caricatures of the continent of human creation
Which has been made to look
Like she’s on her deathbed
And ready for cremation

But we will show the world
That our Mother Africa is strong, vibrant and defiant
Because the pulse of nearly a billion people can never die
When WE control what the world sees,
So we must never comply
To pictures painted by pessimists on TV of our homeland
For we are the pulse of Africa
And we will now show the world
How proudly we will stand!

Omekongo wa Dibinga

Everywhere & Nowhere / Pulse of the Motherland by Omekongo wa Dibinga

Download the audio file

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Biography

Omekongo wa Dibinga was born to Congolese parents in Cambridge Massachusetts. His first CD, A Young Black Man’s Anthem, won the 2003 Cambridge Poetry Award for “Best CD.” His first book of poems, From the Limbs of my Poetree, was published in 2004 through Free Your Mind Publishing, which Omekongo founded in early 2004. Other CD’s include Reality Show, which is Omekongo’s first hybrid spoken word and hip-hop CD. Omekongo has been published in Essence Magazine, Sister 2 Sister, and several other publications.

A dedicated educator and community activist for over 20 years, Omekongo plans to continue focusing on improving cultural understanding and growing greatness among all of humanity’s children, because, as Omekongo believes: “We are only as humane as our most inhumane soul.”

Omekongo wa Dibinga

Omekongo wa Dibinga
Omekongo wa Dibinga

Biography

Omekongo wa Dibinga was born to Congolese parents in Cambridge Massachusetts. His first CD, A Young Black Man’s Anthem, won the 2003 Cambridge Poetry Award for “Best CD.” His first book of poems, From the Limbs of my Poetree, was published in 2004 through Free Your Mind Publishing, which Omekongo founded in early 2004. Other CD’s include Reality Show, which is Omekongo’s first hybrid spoken word and hip-hop CD. Omekongo has been published in Essence Magazine, Sister 2 Sister, and several other publications.

A dedicated educator and community activist for over 20 years, Omekongo plans to continue focusing on improving cultural understanding and growing greatness among all of humanity’s children, because, as Omekongo believes: “We are only as humane as our most inhumane soul.”

The African, The American

Enlarge poem

Some people desire to inquire
What my name means because it sounds so “powerful:”
“OMéKONGO”
Like I need to play some drums when I say it

Others ask if it’s my “birth name”
As if it’s any of their business
But short of the intrinsic inclination to input inhabitants in
Pre-determined non-pensive packages
Few people ask me what it’s actually like
To be an American in Africa,
And an African in America

’Cause for real,
I feel like I need to relocate
To the center of the Atlantic Ocean
Because I am truly caught in the middle

The African, the American…
I’m remixing Angie Palmer’s words
From “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor”
To “I’ve been dissed and I’ve been torn”
Because I’ve been torn between being
Called the American nigga and the African bushboogie

I’m torn between having to speak “African”
To prove I’m African in America
And speaking French
To prove that I’m African
In francophone African countries
What???!!!

I’m torn between the gangs
And the “tribes” both practicing ethnic cleansing
I’m torn between seeing one set
Of my belabored brothers die for hot diamonds
And my other beleaguered brothers
Living to be iced out
But it still doesn’t even out

I’m torn between
Trafficked African sex slaves having hymens torn
And American child porn
I’m torn between
Dealing with the child soldier
And the child gang-banger on the corner

I’m torn between
Dealing with African military leaders
Showing our kids they don’t need school to rule
And rap artists telling our kids
They don’t need school to be rich or cool

I’m torn between
Corporations using both
My communities as a toxic ditch
I’m torn between “I’m Mobutu Sese Seko”
And “I’m Rick James, Bitch!”

And I don’t know
Whether to laugh or cry sis’
Because as proud as I am
To be who I am,
I sometimes feel like
I have an identity cri-sis

Now I know why
I’m so fond of “Transformers” cartoons
’Cause the way folks want me
To change up,
I might as well change my name
From Omékongo to “Optimus Dibinga”
Until people realize that
In getting past my name and frame,
There’s “more than meets the eye”

But whether I be the American countryman
Or the transcontinental African
I know that both identities
End in “I-Can”

So I know I can be, be me,
Let my words do the talking,
And my actions do the walking

Because I will never fit into your box
Whether I got a fade or some locks
So when you’re trying to figure out who I am,
And which stereotypical categories I cover,
I’ll be covered in content
If you just called me, “That brother”

Featured Poem:

Everywhere & Nowhere / Pulse of the Motherland

Enlarge poem

Everywhere & Nowhere

Congo in our Playstation
Congo in our cell phones
Congo in our air planes
Congo in our space shuttles
Congo in our computers
Congo in our furnaces
Congo- everywhere and nowhere at the same time
Because Congo is not in our mind

Pulse of the Motherland

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover
But it has become appallingly clear
That you can judge an entire continent
By its media coverage

You can color a whole continent dark
With the paint of poorly placed perception
When you rely on the media
To teach you your Africa lessons

Because I come from a continent,
That the world thinks is a country
And to put it bluntly,
We’re all HIV positive
Until proven negative
In the eyes of the media

It’s like Africa is either one big safari
Or Kalahari with seethin’ heathens
With no sense of religion
And home to animals and animism

Because TV renditions of African afflictions
Have created a depiction
Of a land of savages
Where the world’s most dreadful diseases
Exceed the law of averages
And since American TV
Only shows the ravages of a select few nations
Most Americans juxtapose the mother of civilization
With phrases like “damnation” and “starvation”

So if we don’t control our own images,
We can’t expect to see
A true representation of our beauty

Most non-Africans believe that the most
Africa has given to the world
Are phrases like “Hakuna mtata”
And “Asante sana squash banana”
Along with exotic vacations in remote locations
‘Cause I’ve never heard an American TV news station
Even say we’re made up of 54 nations

In the eyes of the media,
We’re just underdeveloped wannabe Caucasians
Still searching for civilization
If you buy the media’s interpretation
Of who we are
But am I taking this too far?

Because to me,
The real problem be the WB, ABC, & NBC
Which are the real WMD:
Weapons of Mind Destruction

Because too many people
Including many Africans
See what they see
Through the smart bombs they call TV
And it’s not just the newscasts,
It starts at age 3

Because I grew up
Watching images of Bugs Bunny
Dressed in grass skirts and black face
Speaking in “African dialects”
And every 10 years,
There’s a new version of Tarzan on the TV set

And I don’t know about y’all,
But I recall seeing gorillas pass for Africans
In those “Tin-Tin” cartoons
And if you remove
Marvin Martians’ helmet from Looney Tunes
He’s probably an African illegal alien
Or a fallen, faithless, famine-stricken African child
With his stomach protruded

And it’s these convoluted characterizations
That have helped in creating grown-up policy makers
Who partially base their opinions of our homeland
From films such as “Congo”,
“Gorillas in the Midst” and “The Air up There”
And we can’t forget “Tears of the Sun”
Which left too many tears on the sons and daughters of Africa,
Searching for a beautiful representation
Of our native land

But that won’t happen until we Africans
Take responsibility for our portrayal
Because the betrayal of our friends
From FOX, CBS, and CNN
Means we will never see-an-end
To caricatures of the continent of human creation
Which has been made to look
Like she’s on her deathbed
And ready for cremation

But we will show the world
That our Mother Africa is strong, vibrant and defiant
Because the pulse of nearly a billion people can never die
When WE control what the world sees,
So we must never comply
To pictures painted by pessimists on TV of our homeland
For we are the pulse of Africa
And we will now show the world
How proudly we will stand!

Everywhere & Nowhere / Pulse of the Motherland by Omekongo wa Dibinga

Download the audio file

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (1)

The African, The American

Enlarge poem

Some people desire to inquire
What my name means because it sounds so “powerful:”
“OMéKONGO”
Like I need to play some drums when I say it

Others ask if it’s my “birth name”
As if it’s any of their business
But short of the intrinsic inclination to input inhabitants in
Pre-determined non-pensive packages
Few people ask me what it’s actually like
To be an American in Africa,
And an African in America

’Cause for real,
I feel like I need to relocate
To the center of the Atlantic Ocean
Because I am truly caught in the middle

The African, the American…
I’m remixing Angie Palmer’s words
From “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor”
To “I’ve been dissed and I’ve been torn”
Because I’ve been torn between being
Called the American nigga and the African bushboogie

I’m torn between having to speak “African”
To prove I’m African in America
And speaking French
To prove that I’m African
In francophone African countries
What???!!!

I’m torn between the gangs
And the “tribes” both practicing ethnic cleansing
I’m torn between seeing one set
Of my belabored brothers die for hot diamonds
And my other beleaguered brothers
Living to be iced out
But it still doesn’t even out

I’m torn between
Trafficked African sex slaves having hymens torn
And American child porn
I’m torn between
Dealing with the child soldier
And the child gang-banger on the corner

I’m torn between
Dealing with African military leaders
Showing our kids they don’t need school to rule
And rap artists telling our kids
They don’t need school to be rich or cool

I’m torn between
Corporations using both
My communities as a toxic ditch
I’m torn between “I’m Mobutu Sese Seko”
And “I’m Rick James, Bitch!”

And I don’t know
Whether to laugh or cry sis’
Because as proud as I am
To be who I am,
I sometimes feel like
I have an identity cri-sis

Now I know why
I’m so fond of “Transformers” cartoons
’Cause the way folks want me
To change up,
I might as well change my name
From Omékongo to “Optimus Dibinga”
Until people realize that
In getting past my name and frame,
There’s “more than meets the eye”

But whether I be the American countryman
Or the transcontinental African
I know that both identities
End in “I-Can”

So I know I can be, be me,
Let my words do the talking,
And my actions do the walking

Because I will never fit into your box
Whether I got a fade or some locks
So when you’re trying to figure out who I am,
And which stereotypical categories I cover,
I’ll be covered in content
If you just called me, “That brother”

Comments

Your email address will not be published.