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“I’ve come to take you home”: A Tribute to Sarah Baartman by Diana Ferrus

I’ve come to take you home is one of the most important poems of political significance in the 20th Century. Written in 1998, by Diana Ferrus, a South African writer, poet and storyteller of Khoisan ancestry, the poem is about Sarah Baartman, now recognised as the first known Black female victim of trafficking. Ferrus wrote the poem in the midst of the French reluctance to release Baartman’s remains from the Musé de L’Homme; and the popularity of the poem is widely believed to be responsible for the return of Baartman‘s remains to South Africa, in 2002. The poem was published into a French law.

I have come to take you home, home!

Remember the veld,
the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees?
The air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckles sing-songs
as it hobbles along over little stones.

I have come to wrench you away,
away from the poking eyes of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit,
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate God!

I have come to soothe your heavy heart,
I offer my bosom to your weary soul.
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands,
I will run my lips over the lines in your neck,
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you,
for I have come to bring you peace.

I have come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill.
Your blankets are covered in buchu and mint.
The proteas stand in yellow and white—

I have come to take you home
where I will sing for you,
for you have brought me peace,
for you have brought us peace.

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1 comment

Glenn Hawkes June 2, 2021 at 17:24

Thank you! Meserette Kentake
My life changed slowly slowly for the better, in my view of the world and myself, after I followed the advice of a Black doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in 1970, who said “read DuBois!” I took his advice. I am interested in the underside of racism that exposes the fears of whites, especially white males (like me). I am looking forward to having more information via your work, offering all of us a chance to learn and (hopefully) begin some kind of process of fundamental change. Sorry, too many words. Again thank you. Glenn W. Hawkes, MAT, Ed.D


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