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Black Family History in the First World War

As part of Black History Month in collaboration with Museum of Liverpool, we had a brilliant poetry workshop with poet Levi Tafari. Taking inspiration from the First World War, several participants read their poems. Here are some pieces if you missed the performance... 



A colony of the unsung,
repression built upon unknown,
minorities of legacy,
distributed through hidden tyranny,
hereby implanted to the stock,
of segregated essence,
feed the privileged alterations,
directed to blind provocation,
rotting to the core,
in anger,
commonalities buried beneath the slander,
a unison forbidden within this hidden decay,
waiting to evaporate,
weakened paupers blame the others,
a virus breeding from the mother.
By Reece
 
 
I wonder what it was like returning after the war? 
I wonder what the black ‘Tommy Soldier’ saw when he arrived from the home front feeling very sore,
From being on the battlefield, fighting and buried in bunkers made of sacks and sand,
Was he fighting for ‘his’ life?
Or was it for the colonies they call the mother country a place called England?
I wonder what it was like returning after the war?
Did ‘Tommy Soldier’ get a hero’s welcome with people lining the streets,
Waving banners, flags with children playing oh wow what a treat,
Oh no, it was not so, he came home on a train,
Having to walk the final eight miles on foot,
There was no room for a black soldier with shrapnel in his right leg and shoulder,
Oh the pain, the pain, the pain.
By Jacqui
 
 
I try to comprehend,
even yet I can’t explain,
the black letter I received has darkened my day,
my child who I though was missing,
Is now dead,
bombed in a far-away land, 
and I won’t see him again,
I gave him life,
was a mother to him,
I was there for his first step,
even heard his first swear word,
his death brings me sorrow,
I tried to comprehend,
I tried explaining,
now I just feel sorrow,
only numb,
I read the headline paper,
just another dead negro,
whether it’s in the mother continent,
or the Caribbean Islands,
all I can hear is mothers and wives crying,
they say death isn’t biased,
but when one of us dies,
there’s no celebration,
no smiles shown,
just a sigh and whimper,
like we’ve been down this road before,
as I conclude this piece,
all I can say is we’ve been in this road all too long,
I pray all those black souls who died in this tragic war,
can be at peace,
as we honour their names, from now to forever.
 
By Hassan
 
 
 
 
It’s on me
 
It’s on me,
Same sun shone on me
Same rain dried on me
Same wind blow on me
Same snow fell on me
 
It’s on me,
Same flesh and blood pulsated on me
Same clothes put on me
Same documents carried on me
Same names called on me
 
It’s on me,
Same family album inspired on me
Same fireplace burned on me
Same chair ordered on me
Same household charged on me
 
It’s on me,
Same uniform and arms heavy on me
Same hands in shoulders laid on me
Same masks pushed on me
Same bombs dropped on me
 
It’s on me,
Shame only smashed on me
Worst duties cast harshly on me
Lower ranks though tolerated on me
Fewer medals then thrown on me
 
It’s on me,
No welcomes shout on me
Only stones and fist hit hardly on me
Buried alive by their hatred on me
Yet no trenches built in me
 
It’s on me.
By Roger Williams
 
 
 
A family at peace,

A family at war,
That is the fall out,
Life is no more,
Life is no more,
Life is no more.
By Ray