Archive for February, 2011

Daughters of Ham: A Poem

Daughters of Ham: A Poem

by Denis Kabi

Daughter of Ham, how lovely you are.

A home was chosen for you

in the east coast of Africa,

a land to the south of Jerusalem, Israel,

farther south of the territory once ruled by the Queen of Sheba,

east of the source of the River Nile.

A little bit of the world is in you;

the lakes, the rivers, the streams;

the hillocks, the hills, the mountains;

the forests, the grassland plains, the deserts;

the sun, the snow, the ocean;

the browns, the blacks, the whites;

the Shems, the Hams, the Japheths.

How did your people come to live here?

Well, God created Adam and Eve,

who had two sons, Cain and Abel,

and another called Seth,

and seven generations down the bloodline,

Noah was born and in due time

he had three sons,

Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

When mankind had spread all over the earth,

the Lord saw how wicked everyone on earth was

and how evil their thoughts were.

He was so filled with regret

that He said, “I will wipe out

these people I have created,

and also the animals and the birds,

because I am sorry that I made any of them.”

But the Lord was pleased with Noah.

Noah had no faults

and was the only good man of his time.

He lived in fellowship with God.

God told Noah to build a boat,

for He was going to destroy

every living being on earth.

God told Noah to go into the boat

with his wife, his sons, and their wives,

and a male and a female of every kind of animal

and every kind of bird,

in order to keep them alive.

Then the flood came.

Every living being on earth died

– every bird, every animal, and every person.

When the flood ended

Noah and his family, and the animals

left the boat.

God blessed Noah and his sons and said,

“Have many children, so that your descendants

will live all over the earth.”

Noah, who was a farmer,

was the first man to plant a vineyard.

After he drank some of the wine,

he became drunk, took off his clothes,

and lay naked in his tent.

When Ham, the father of Canaan,

saw that his father was naked,

he went out and told his two brothers.

Then Shem and Japheth took a robe

and held it behind them on their shoulders.

They walked backward into the tent

and covered their father,

keeping their faces turned away

so as not to see him naked.

When Noah sobered up

and learned what his youngest son

had done to him, he said,

“A curse on Canaan!

He will be a slave to his brothers.

Give praise to the Lord, the God of Shem!

Canaan will be the slave of Shem.

May God cause Japheth to increase!

May his descendants live with the people of Shem!

Canaan will be the slave of Japheth.”

Things started rather badly

for Ham’s descendants, didn’t they?

The sons of Ham – Cush, Egypt, Libya, and Canaan –

were the ancestors of the peoples

who bear their names.

The descendants of Cush

were the people of Seba, Havilah,

Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca.

The descendants of Raamah

were the people of Sheba and Dedan.

Black people probably descended from this bloodline.

At first, the people of the whole world

had only one language

and used the same words.

As they wandered about in the East,

they came to a plain in Babylonia

and settled there.

They said to one another, “Come on!

Let’s make bricks and bake them hard.”

So they had bricks to build with

and tar to hold them together.

They said, “Now let’s build a city

with a tower that reaches the sky,

so that we can make a name for ourselves

and not be scattered all over the earth.”

Then the Lord came down to see the city

and the tower which those men had built

and He said, “Now then, these are all one people

and they speak one language;

this is just the beginning

of what they are going to do.

Soon they will be able to do anything they want!

Let us go down and mix up their language

so that they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them all over earth,

and they stopped building the city.

The city was called Babylon,

because there the Lord mixed up

the language of all the people,

and from there He scattered them

all over the earth.

Daughter of Ham, how lovely you are.

A home was chosen for you

in the east coast of Africa,

a land to the south of Jerusalem, Israel,

farther south of the territory once ruled by the Queen of Sheba,

east of the source of the River Nile.

A little bit of the world is in you;

the lakes, the rivers, the streams;

the hillocks, the hills, the mountains;

the forests, the grassland plains, the deserts;

the sun, the snow, the ocean;

the browns, the blacks, the whites;

the Shems, the Hams, the Japheths.

How did your people come to be so poor?

Well, is Noah’s curse still in effect?

The people of Angola and DR Congo

have suffered for many years

from political turbulence and civil unrest.

The people of Ethiopia and Eritrea

have suffered for many years

from political clashes and border disputes.

The people of Kenya and Uganda

have suffered for many years

from political strife and ethnic fire-ups.

The people of Sudan and Somalia

have suffered for two or more decades

from political turmoil and civil war.

The people of Rwanda and Sierra Leone

have suffered for many years

from political instability and subjugation.

The people of Western Sahara and Madagascar

have suffered for many years

from political upheavals and repressions.

The people of Zimbabwe and Cote d’ Ivoire

have suffered for many years

from bad governance and stagnating economies.

The list can go on and on and on…

Every other African country

seems to be rushing down the path to conflict

– or coming up from it.

The situation is even more depressing

in the lands where Africans in the Diaspora live.

The black people of Europe and America

have suffered for many years

from political exclusion and repression.

The people of Haiti and Jamaica

have suffered for many years

from political unrests and other tempests.

A sizeable percentage of the descendants of Ham

have never known peace or prosperity.

Sufferance seems to be their collective surname.

Year in, year out, decade after decade,

droughts come and go,

wiping out beings and beasts alike

in their wake.

Year in, year out, decade after decade,

civil wars come and go,

wiping out beings and beasts alike

in their wake.

Year in, year out, decade after decade,

coup d’ etats and violent elections come and go,

wiping out beings and beasts alike

in their wake.

Year in, year out, decade after decade,

colonialists and neo-colonialists come and go,

wiping out natural resources

and destabilizing indigenous societies

in their wake.

Year in, year out, decade after decade,

this vicious cycle seems to repeat itself,

wiping out more beings and more beasts

in their horrifying wake.

Nothing seems to go right in Africa!

Why did Ham go into Noah’s tent

that fateful day in history

and see him in the state he was?

Why did Noah pronounce such a terrible thing

against his own flesh and blood?

Couldn’t Noah have simply reprimanded the chap

and chosen a benign form of punishment?

Why did Noah curse

the descendants of his son Ham?

Did Noah know what the consequences

of his words would bring?

Perhaps there’s an answer to these questions…

Perhaps it’s only a biblical scholar or theologian

who can shed light on these concerns…

Daughter of Ham, how lovely you are.

A home was chosen for you

in the east coast of Africa,

a land to the south of Jerusalem, Israel,

farther south of the territory once ruled by the Queen of Sheba,

east of the source of the River Nile.

A little bit of the world is in you;

the lakes, the rivers, the streams;

the hillocks, the hills, the mountains;

the forests, the grassland plains, the deserts;

the sun, the snow, the ocean;

the browns, the blacks, the whites;

the Shems, the Hams, the Japheths.

How do your people plan

to make things better in the future?

Well, Deuteronomy twenty-eight says:

If you obey the Lord your God

and faithfully keep all his commands

that I am giving you today,

He will make you greater

than any other nation on earth.

Obey the Lord your God

and all these blessings will be yours:

“The Lord will bless your towns and your fields.

The Lord will bless you with many children,

with abundant crops,

and with many cattle and sheep.

The Lord will bless your grain crops

and the food you prepare from them.

The Lord will bless everything you do.

The Lord will defeat your enemies

when they attack you.

They will attack from one direction,

but they will run from you in all directions.

The Lord your God will bless your work

and fill your barns with grain.

He will bless you in the land

that He is giving you.

If you obey the Lord your God

 and do everything He commands,

 He will make you His own people,

as He has promised.

Then all the peoples on earth will see

that the Lord has chosen you

 to be His own people,

and they will be afraid of you.

The Lord will give you many children,

many cattle, and abundant crops

 in the land that He promised your ancestors

to give you.

He will send rain in season

from His rich storehouse in the sky

and bless all your work,

so that you will lend to many nations,

but you will not have to borrow from any.

The Lord your God will make you the leader

among the nations and not a follower;

you will always prosper and never fail

 if you obey faithfully all His commands

that I am giving you today.

But you must never disobey them in any way

or worship and serve other gods.”

Deuteronomy twenty-eight also says:

But if you disobey the Lord your God

and do not faithfully keep all his commands

and laws that I am giving you today,

all these evil things will happen to you:

The Lord will curse your towns and your fields.

The Lord will curse your grain crops

and the food you prepare from them.

The Lord will curse you by giving you

 only a few children, poor crops,

and few cattle and sheep.

The Lord will curse everything you do.

If you do evil and reject the Lord,

He will bring on you disaster, confusion,

 and trouble in everything you do,

until you are quickly and completely destroyed.

He will send disease after disease on you

until there is not one of you left

in the land that you are about to occupy.

The Lord will strike you with infectious diseases,

with swelling and fever;

He will send drought and scorching winds

to destroy your crops.

These disasters will be with you until you die.

No rain will fall,

and your ground will become as hard as iron.

Instead of rain, the Lord will send down

dust storms and sandstorms

until you are destroyed.

The Lord will give your enemies victory over you.

You will attack them from one direction,

but you will run from them in all directions,

and all the people on earth will be terrified

when they see what happens to you.

When you die,

birds and wild animals will come

and eat your bodies,

and there will be no one to scare them off.

The Lord will send boils on you,

as He did on the Egyptians.

He will make your bodies break out with sores.

You will be covered with scabs,

and you will itch,

but there will be no cure.

The Lord will make you lose your mind;

 He will strike you with blindness and confusion.

You will grope about in broad daylight

like a blind man,

and you will not be able to find your way.

You will not prosper in anything you do.

You will be constantly oppressed and robbed,

and there will be no one to help you.

You will be engaged to a girl

– but someone else will marry her.

You will build a house

– but never live in it.

You will plant a vineyard

 – but never eat its grapes.

Your cattle will be butchered

before your very eyes,

but you will not eat any of the meat.

Your donkeys will be dragged away

while you look on,

and they will not be given back to you.

Your sheep will be given to your enemies,

and there will be no one to help you.

Your sons and daughters will be given as slaves

to foreigners while you look on.

Every day you will strain your eyes,

looking in vain for your children to return.

A foreign nation will take all the crops

that you have worked so hard to grow,

while you receive nothing

but constant oppression and harsh treatment.

Your sufferings will make you lose your mind.

The Lord will cover your legs with incurable, painful sores;

boils will cover you from head to foot…”

 

Daughter of Ham, why do they call you Her?

Yet it’s your sons who have ruled you

and brought you so much misery…

 

© Denis Kabi, 2011

 

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