Counting Crows

Counting Crows.

Crows, they say
Bring words of warning.
With feathers as dark as the feeling the invoke within me.
Counting Crows.

As winter begins to approach, the chilling sweep of the Cape Town winds whistle through the city. I find myself moving through and around my own neighborhood, rushing forward without a destination – street after street. Struggling to keep the expression on my face neutral, I bite my jaw closed and clasp my hands inside my pockets looking from the floor to the sky.

Counting Crows.

Black. Black.
Swimming and soaring through a sea of heavy clouds.
Birds moving through and around, rushing – I’d wager – without a destination.
Up there, there are no streets.


I was thinking about Baltimore this morning.
“Riots”, “Death”, “Violence”
Are words that flowed as undercurrents beneath the silent thoughts and feelings I was working through.
In some strange ways it is difficult to separate myself altogether from the fate of the African Americans.
For better or worse,
Having been such important parts in shaping my cultural and political identity the affirmations and declarations of brothers and sisters I have never met – or am likely to never meet – echo in the chambers of my mind.
Demonstrations against systemic racism..
Viciously violent, hyper-masculine and authoritarian systems cannot be foreign to me. They cannot be foreign to any of us alive in Africa.
And yet,
As the climate in South Africa steadily grows to escalate in a fiery heat that defies the chilling winds of May and June.. I find myself considering a future where these streets are no longer quiet. Where chaos reigns and newspaper headlines carry with them the tortured faces of friends, loved ones and comrades.

Is that what is coming for us?
I thought,
Counting crows.

A young woman, 15.
In Cape Town, was halted at the airport. En route to allegedly join ISIS.
I remember my dad passing that article over to me on his trip into the city.
“You see..” he said.
“These fellows are even here”
It was Easter and he had arrived for a visit bringing with him a jarring reminder that I have existed in a bubble for quite some time.
What followed between us was an endless exchange words, arguments and politics. For the first time in a long time ideas that held currency in my familiar circles was met with straight-out rejection.
It was not long before I realised that our dispute was not one of political difference.
It was one of fear.
One that I am certain is happening in many of the households I walk past each day.
The fear that very quickly, in this country, could change very radically.

He too,
Was Counting crows.


Happened almost yesterday.
148 students shot dead, students not unlike myself.
I don’t wish to elevate the lives of them, or my own above countless others who are killed each day however I must admit that brutality of this cold blooded murder struck somewhat close to home.

Ever so often,
In family group chats. I notice messages and warnings sent around alerting loved ones of terror threats.
Bomb threats.
“Stay stafe”
Sometimes feels like a self indulgent thing for me to even type.
Not being a man of any kind of prayer a feeling of disconnectedness run deep.

It almost felt unreal.
I cannot imagine what my family and countless others must be living like.
Each day wondering if this Mall will be the one targeted.
In amongst the fears and concerns they had to begin with.
Each day,
Counting crows.

It was not so different with the Xenophobia/Afrophobia attacks you know.
Messages circulating around, words of solidarity. Fear.
I think about my father and his Ugandan flag in a glass cabinet at home.
Wondering dark things and then doing my best to put them to aside.

I thought of the Mediterranean.
700 Africans lost to the sea.
I thought of my maternal ancestors who arrived her on ships themselves.
I’m certain like today, countless others whose names and histories are forever lost perished alongside my ancestors.
And by lottery I am here.
We are here.
Yet today.
We continue,
Counting Crows.

Crows, they say
Bring words of warning.
With feathers as dark as the feeling the invoke within me.
Counting Crows.

Turning around.
As my eyes become clouded by the grey and constricted by the cold,
My sight loses focus.
Hold on,
Are those even crows?


Photocredit to Gokul Nair IG: @Goku_Explores


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