Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Enlarge poem

At the same time that we were being told who we were,
We were being asked questions like;
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As you can imagine the ambitious answers of 6 year olds.
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant
“What about you Pakama? What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It was my turn.
So with a big smile on my face, I turned around and answered:
“I want to be a Writer”.
There was an awkward silence.
My dream was dismissed.
So I learnt to say, “Okay, okay then, I want to be an engineer, THEN a Writer”.
When I was 10 : “I want to be a pilot, THEN a Writer”
When I was 15 :, “I want to be an architect , THEN a Writer”

The thing we failed to understand about primary school is that when our teachers and our parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up, they already had the right and wrong answers set for us.
“No Pakama. You cannot be a Writer. Why don’t you try being an Architect first, then a writer?”
Tell me, what was the fucking point in asking?

The first time that I realized that the sitting arrangements in our class were set according to our intelligence; I faked a flu and stayed home for a week.
I did not want to tell my father because I was afraid I would get in trouble for being placed at the back.
A few days later my parents found out and my father sent me back to school.
Kicking and crying.
I got sent to the Counselors office,
A really sweet looking woman
Who asked me all kinds of questions about why I was skipping school.
I was a little embarrassed to say—
That I was placed at the back of the class because I sucked at Science,
And Maths.
And Technology.
So I stayed at home to write poems.
She said “Aren’t you a little too young to be a writer?”
And I found the courage to say, “Well aren’t you a little to educated to be closed in this room talking to a 9 year old about skipping school?”
She said “Well, I kind of love talking to 9 year olds”.
So I looked her in the face and told her that I kind of love the smell of ink stains cum on a page,
And slammed the door in her face.

I am not the only child who grew up this way.
Surrounded by abusive teachers who treated our dreams like fat girls at high school balls standing all alone.
I am not the only child who grew up like this.
Surrounded by abusive fathers who treated our dreams like ugly babies that relatives refused to hold..
“STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK OUR BONES”.
Whoever came up with that rhyme probably thought that sticks and stones and scattered bones hurt more than the names that our dreams were called.
And mine were called many.
Like stupid,
And silly
And ridiculous.
“Your dreams are too narrow,”
“Pakama, Your dreams are too black.”

See, I was born clutching apologies in my right hand.
The only thing that I inherited from society has been a fistful of apologies.
So I am sorry dad
That I cannot be a doctor.
That I cannot be like you.
That my poems are a constant spit on your face reminding you every time I stand behind a mic that everything I am, is everything you never wanted me to be.
I am sorry.
That I was moved to the back of the class in 3rd grade.
That the classroom has always felt like a battleground for little kids like me and everyday was war.
I am sorry that I didn’t have enough weapons to fight.
I am sorry that I quit before I could get shot enough times to prove to you that I could still get back up.
I am sorry.
But that rhyme about sticks and stones can go die in a fire because
sticks and stones didn’t break my bones.
But your words—
They broke my heart
And to this day,
Despite a growing poetry career and a number of people snapping their fingers at my poems.
I still don’t think I am good enough.
I still don’t think people respect my art.
And I am not the only child who grew up like this.
In a world that teaches us that bullies are only little boys who steal lunchboxes and pocket money.
They probably haven’t been to our homes to meet our fathers.
They probably haven’t been to classes to learn that the biggest bullies aren’t within the class but in front of it.
That the biggest bullies don’t steal lunchboxes or pocket money.
They steal dreams.

Because at the very same time that we were being told who we were
We were being asked stupid questions like
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And because 6 year olds wanted to sound ambitious, they said
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant”
When all they really wanted to say was
“I want to be a dancer”
“I want to be a painter”
“I want to be a poet”
I want to be a writer.
So when it was my turn and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up
I looked around…
And with a face full of tears I answered
“Free”
I want to be free.
Free to make my own fucking choices.

Pakama Mlokoti

Featured Poem:

Nostalgia

Enlarge poem

My sister tells me to break up with my first boyfriend,
Because every time we walk together, people tell me he looks exactly like my father.
I show him a picture of the old man and he breaks up with me first.
He says it feels like looking right into a mirror.
He says—
“I AM SORRY, BUT I CANT BE WITH A GIRL WHO SLEEPS WITH MEN WHO RESEMBLE HER FATHER”.
This is the first time I learn that I have issues.

When a boy I met at the mall walks out of breaking my virginity because I mistakenly call him “DADDY”.
When the gardener stops coming to work because I keep begging him to read me bedtime stories.
I ask my mother why I was born like this.
Why I was born with eyes red like an emergency exit.
I ask her why all the men in my life keep walking out on me.
Like any other mother,
She tries to convince me that it’s not my fault.
But I know it is.

I followed a stranger all the way downtown once because he smelled like my father.
The last time I was left by a man—
I bought him my father’s favourite perfume on his birthday.
I fall in love with every man who reminds me of him.
I fall in love with everything that makes me think of him.
It’s not normal.
I am terrified of myself.
I am scared.

So I ask my mother if she believes in ghosts.
Instead, she dismisses the idea and sends me off to bed.
I want to tell her, that some nights when I am alone in my room, I hear noises.
Like my father—
Screeching at the door trying to claw his way back in.
My father, trying to come home.
But as soon as I turn on the lights,
there is nothing in the room but me,
and silence.
Maybe I am too in love with a man who chose himself over his own daughter.
Maybe I hope too much.
This is why the men in my life always leave.
I am still clutching my father in my hand like a lucky coin.
I have been loving him out of habit for so long that I have even forgotten why.
But today it is time to let go.
It is time to stop loving things that are always on the move, like my father.
My father is a rolling stone.
My father is a shooting star.
And shooting stars are cowards.
So I am learning to wish upon the stars that shine right where they are.
I am learning to wish upon the stars that stay.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (5)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (3)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (8)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (2)
  • Jubilation (1)

Comments

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Biography

Pakama Mlokoti, born on May 12 1994 in Mthatha, is currently based in Port Elizabeth pursuing a career in poetry. She is a writer, peformer and film maker in progress.

Pakama began competitive poetry in 2013 winning the Candlelight slam and Consent is Sexy Poetry slam. She also came second place on the Udubs Got Talent finals. 

She has performed at various stages across the country including the Inzync Sessions in Cape Town, the Word N Sound stage in Johannesburg as well as Atheneaum Little Theatre in Port Elizabeth.

She also represented Eastern Cape in the National Slam For Your Life finals at the Soweto theatre where she won and is current a National Slam Champion.

Pakama Mlokoti

Biography

Pakama Mlokoti, born on May 12 1994 in Mthatha, is currently based in Port Elizabeth pursuing a career in poetry. She is a writer, peformer and film maker in progress.

Pakama began competitive poetry in 2013 winning the Candlelight slam and Consent is Sexy Poetry slam. She also came second place on the Udubs Got Talent finals. 

She has performed at various stages across the country including the Inzync Sessions in Cape Town, the Word N Sound stage in Johannesburg as well as Atheneaum Little Theatre in Port Elizabeth.

She also represented Eastern Cape in the National Slam For Your Life finals at the Soweto theatre where she won and is current a National Slam Champion.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Enlarge poem

At the same time that we were being told who we were,
We were being asked questions like;
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As you can imagine the ambitious answers of 6 year olds.
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant
“What about you Pakama? What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It was my turn.
So with a big smile on my face, I turned around and answered:
“I want to be a Writer”.
There was an awkward silence.
My dream was dismissed.
So I learnt to say, “Okay, okay then, I want to be an engineer, THEN a Writer”.
When I was 10 : “I want to be a pilot, THEN a Writer”
When I was 15 :, “I want to be an architect , THEN a Writer”

The thing we failed to understand about primary school is that when our teachers and our parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up, they already had the right and wrong answers set for us.
“No Pakama. You cannot be a Writer. Why don’t you try being an Architect first, then a writer?”
Tell me, what was the fucking point in asking?

The first time that I realized that the sitting arrangements in our class were set according to our intelligence; I faked a flu and stayed home for a week.
I did not want to tell my father because I was afraid I would get in trouble for being placed at the back.
A few days later my parents found out and my father sent me back to school.
Kicking and crying.
I got sent to the Counselors office,
A really sweet looking woman
Who asked me all kinds of questions about why I was skipping school.
I was a little embarrassed to say—
That I was placed at the back of the class because I sucked at Science,
And Maths.
And Technology.
So I stayed at home to write poems.
She said “Aren’t you a little too young to be a writer?”
And I found the courage to say, “Well aren’t you a little to educated to be closed in this room talking to a 9 year old about skipping school?”
She said “Well, I kind of love talking to 9 year olds”.
So I looked her in the face and told her that I kind of love the smell of ink stains cum on a page,
And slammed the door in her face.

I am not the only child who grew up this way.
Surrounded by abusive teachers who treated our dreams like fat girls at high school balls standing all alone.
I am not the only child who grew up like this.
Surrounded by abusive fathers who treated our dreams like ugly babies that relatives refused to hold..
“STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK OUR BONES”.
Whoever came up with that rhyme probably thought that sticks and stones and scattered bones hurt more than the names that our dreams were called.
And mine were called many.
Like stupid,
And silly
And ridiculous.
“Your dreams are too narrow,”
“Pakama, Your dreams are too black.”

See, I was born clutching apologies in my right hand.
The only thing that I inherited from society has been a fistful of apologies.
So I am sorry dad
That I cannot be a doctor.
That I cannot be like you.
That my poems are a constant spit on your face reminding you every time I stand behind a mic that everything I am, is everything you never wanted me to be.
I am sorry.
That I was moved to the back of the class in 3rd grade.
That the classroom has always felt like a battleground for little kids like me and everyday was war.
I am sorry that I didn’t have enough weapons to fight.
I am sorry that I quit before I could get shot enough times to prove to you that I could still get back up.
I am sorry.
But that rhyme about sticks and stones can go die in a fire because
sticks and stones didn’t break my bones.
But your words—
They broke my heart
And to this day,
Despite a growing poetry career and a number of people snapping their fingers at my poems.
I still don’t think I am good enough.
I still don’t think people respect my art.
And I am not the only child who grew up like this.
In a world that teaches us that bullies are only little boys who steal lunchboxes and pocket money.
They probably haven’t been to our homes to meet our fathers.
They probably haven’t been to classes to learn that the biggest bullies aren’t within the class but in front of it.
That the biggest bullies don’t steal lunchboxes or pocket money.
They steal dreams.

Because at the very same time that we were being told who we were
We were being asked stupid questions like
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And because 6 year olds wanted to sound ambitious, they said
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant”
When all they really wanted to say was
“I want to be a dancer”
“I want to be a painter”
“I want to be a poet”
I want to be a writer.
So when it was my turn and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up
I looked around…
And with a face full of tears I answered
“Free”
I want to be free.
Free to make my own fucking choices.

Featured Poem:

Nostalgia

Enlarge poem

My sister tells me to break up with my first boyfriend,
Because every time we walk together, people tell me he looks exactly like my father.
I show him a picture of the old man and he breaks up with me first.
He says it feels like looking right into a mirror.
He says—
“I AM SORRY, BUT I CANT BE WITH A GIRL WHO SLEEPS WITH MEN WHO RESEMBLE HER FATHER”.
This is the first time I learn that I have issues.

When a boy I met at the mall walks out of breaking my virginity because I mistakenly call him “DADDY”.
When the gardener stops coming to work because I keep begging him to read me bedtime stories.
I ask my mother why I was born like this.
Why I was born with eyes red like an emergency exit.
I ask her why all the men in my life keep walking out on me.
Like any other mother,
She tries to convince me that it’s not my fault.
But I know it is.

I followed a stranger all the way downtown once because he smelled like my father.
The last time I was left by a man—
I bought him my father’s favourite perfume on his birthday.
I fall in love with every man who reminds me of him.
I fall in love with everything that makes me think of him.
It’s not normal.
I am terrified of myself.
I am scared.

So I ask my mother if she believes in ghosts.
Instead, she dismisses the idea and sends me off to bed.
I want to tell her, that some nights when I am alone in my room, I hear noises.
Like my father—
Screeching at the door trying to claw his way back in.
My father, trying to come home.
But as soon as I turn on the lights,
there is nothing in the room but me,
and silence.
Maybe I am too in love with a man who chose himself over his own daughter.
Maybe I hope too much.
This is why the men in my life always leave.
I am still clutching my father in my hand like a lucky coin.
I have been loving him out of habit for so long that I have even forgotten why.
But today it is time to let go.
It is time to stop loving things that are always on the move, like my father.
My father is a rolling stone.
My father is a shooting star.
And shooting stars are cowards.
So I am learning to wish upon the stars that shine right where they are.
I am learning to wish upon the stars that stay.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (5)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (3)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (8)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (2)
  • Jubilation (1)

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Enlarge poem

At the same time that we were being told who we were,
We were being asked questions like;
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As you can imagine the ambitious answers of 6 year olds.
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant
“What about you Pakama? What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It was my turn.
So with a big smile on my face, I turned around and answered:
“I want to be a Writer”.
There was an awkward silence.
My dream was dismissed.
So I learnt to say, “Okay, okay then, I want to be an engineer, THEN a Writer”.
When I was 10 : “I want to be a pilot, THEN a Writer”
When I was 15 :, “I want to be an architect , THEN a Writer”

The thing we failed to understand about primary school is that when our teachers and our parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up, they already had the right and wrong answers set for us.
“No Pakama. You cannot be a Writer. Why don’t you try being an Architect first, then a writer?”
Tell me, what was the fucking point in asking?

The first time that I realized that the sitting arrangements in our class were set according to our intelligence; I faked a flu and stayed home for a week.
I did not want to tell my father because I was afraid I would get in trouble for being placed at the back.
A few days later my parents found out and my father sent me back to school.
Kicking and crying.
I got sent to the Counselors office,
A really sweet looking woman
Who asked me all kinds of questions about why I was skipping school.
I was a little embarrassed to say—
That I was placed at the back of the class because I sucked at Science,
And Maths.
And Technology.
So I stayed at home to write poems.
She said “Aren’t you a little too young to be a writer?”
And I found the courage to say, “Well aren’t you a little to educated to be closed in this room talking to a 9 year old about skipping school?”
She said “Well, I kind of love talking to 9 year olds”.
So I looked her in the face and told her that I kind of love the smell of ink stains cum on a page,
And slammed the door in her face.

I am not the only child who grew up this way.
Surrounded by abusive teachers who treated our dreams like fat girls at high school balls standing all alone.
I am not the only child who grew up like this.
Surrounded by abusive fathers who treated our dreams like ugly babies that relatives refused to hold..
“STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK OUR BONES”.
Whoever came up with that rhyme probably thought that sticks and stones and scattered bones hurt more than the names that our dreams were called.
And mine were called many.
Like stupid,
And silly
And ridiculous.
“Your dreams are too narrow,”
“Pakama, Your dreams are too black.”

See, I was born clutching apologies in my right hand.
The only thing that I inherited from society has been a fistful of apologies.
So I am sorry dad
That I cannot be a doctor.
That I cannot be like you.
That my poems are a constant spit on your face reminding you every time I stand behind a mic that everything I am, is everything you never wanted me to be.
I am sorry.
That I was moved to the back of the class in 3rd grade.
That the classroom has always felt like a battleground for little kids like me and everyday was war.
I am sorry that I didn’t have enough weapons to fight.
I am sorry that I quit before I could get shot enough times to prove to you that I could still get back up.
I am sorry.
But that rhyme about sticks and stones can go die in a fire because
sticks and stones didn’t break my bones.
But your words—
They broke my heart
And to this day,
Despite a growing poetry career and a number of people snapping their fingers at my poems.
I still don’t think I am good enough.
I still don’t think people respect my art.
And I am not the only child who grew up like this.
In a world that teaches us that bullies are only little boys who steal lunchboxes and pocket money.
They probably haven’t been to our homes to meet our fathers.
They probably haven’t been to classes to learn that the biggest bullies aren’t within the class but in front of it.
That the biggest bullies don’t steal lunchboxes or pocket money.
They steal dreams.

Because at the very same time that we were being told who we were
We were being asked stupid questions like
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And because 6 year olds wanted to sound ambitious, they said
“I want to be a lawyer.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to be an accountant”
When all they really wanted to say was
“I want to be a dancer”
“I want to be a painter”
“I want to be a poet”
I want to be a writer.
So when it was my turn and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up
I looked around…
And with a face full of tears I answered
“Free”
I want to be free.
Free to make my own fucking choices.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.