Afro Beat


Watch him bounce
alone on his dreary isle –
nothing but the crescendo of flowing traffic
for rhythm, defining his space.
Those cocker spaniel eyes and that gleeful
smile – his old lips stretched like a thin elastic band,
upon his overgrown ears.
Childish knee bends and manic head wiggles,
clasping his wheelie street-cleaner-bin like a toddler
with a toy buggy.

Cars spit out their fumes,
commuters are unamused,
Mile End tube station swallows its
time-conscious food – while the dancing old man
executes his partially visible moves.
“Keeping warm?” I chuckle.
He peers back with an outrageous grin,
and deepens his bend.
“It’s those bloody Africans…” he mumbles,
as the traffic slows and the button is hastily pressed –
“And those bleeding black people, from the Caribbean…”
He winds and pops: there’s no need to decipher the rest.

We cross the road – would you look back?
The invisible man, a fuzzy monochrome
blurring into the city streets like a peculiarly
animated object,
is suddenly framed by afro-beats.
Bursts of yellow, clashing greens,
pink birds and orange flowers repeat:
he’s draped in the textiles of African Queens.
Fluid flashes of block colour exalt
the very culture he mocks,
painting him back into the spectrum—
now watch him pulsate.
Let the vibrancy educate.

*Photo Credit: Thandiwe Muriu — image from the Kenyan photographer’s Camo project.(check out her portfolio!)

One thought on “Afro Beat

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