Before you’re 40

Remember
what your parents said
when you first got laid
when you first got paid
Where you were
when the gooks were fried
What you thought
when Powell lied1
How you felt
when finishing school
when voting white
was just the rule.

Remember
Katanga2
Remember
Memphis3
Harlem4
Chicago5
and for emphasis
more than Dallas
or even LA
in Georgetown6
in Bolivia7 or Guiné8
even in Berlin9
by the way
death ’round 4010
was the price
they paid.

  1. Colin Powell is remembered for lying to the UN Security Council in order to obtain a resolution against Iraq. In fact, it is part of the job description for the US Ambassador to the UN to lie to that organization. However, Powell’s first big lying job when he was only a field grade officer was the attempt to conceal the CIA Phoenix massacre at My Lai from any official exposure. []
  2. Lumumba []
  3. King []
  4. Malcolm []
  5. Hampton []
  6. Rodney []
  7. Che []
  8. Cabral []
  9. Dutschke []
  10. Between 1960 and 1968 numerous leaders in the long movement (from 1945) for de-colonisation, national independence and development were assassinated and dead by around the age of 40. Anyone remembering the Sixties as an optimistic age that failed to live up to its ideals or expectations, should also recall the level of deadly force used to suppress the movements, their ideals and expectations. Elizabeth Taylor was to have said “you can get married as long as you are alive.” []
Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..