I am busy baking rusks (they are in the oven right now!) and it is my first batch – ever! As I was opening the carton of buttermilk (see pic), I remembered my grandmother. She used to drink the buttermilk just like that – it was probably her absolute favourite treat. I guess it is quite normal to drink buttermilk, but I have always thought of it as sour milk or ‘milk gone bad’! I would look at the white chunks in my grandmother’s glass and not understand how she could love this so much.
So all of this put a whole train of thoughts going in my mind. I was reminded of the ‘praise poem’ something I learned in my creative writing honours year. The ‘praise poem’ is “an African tradition used by a tribe, so that young adults begin and continue life knowing who they are and that they belong, that they are loved and that they each have special gifts.” (quoted from my class notes!)
Roughly, the format of a ‘praise poem’ is:
1) Your lineage: I am… daughter of… who was the son of … (or similar)
2) Physical description: I am tall, with dark hair, full wide hips, my belly is round (you can go all out!)
3) Who are you? You can say whatever it is that makes you you – that which is special about you or important to you
Well. I think a rusk-baking, buttermilk afternoon is the perfect time for writing a praise poem, the perfect time for thinking about where I come from and who I am!
I am Nicolette Ferreira.
I am the daughter of Mary,
granddaughter of Mary Victor,
who was the daughter of Mary Marais,
daughter of Katherine Fowler.
I am pale-skinned and hazel-eyed
with wild red hair.
I am from the south of Africa
from everywhere –
the ocean, the fields, the dust, the mountains.
I have tiny feet and tinier toes,
my hands are made of ice.
My belly ring,
my wild hair
are stamps of defiance –
I am not to be captured in a cage.
Nicolette – I’m like a cat
I come out when I want to
I leave when I have to
I sleep curled up,
but I do this to protect myself.
I struggle to exercise –
lifting my head slowly at the suggestion to run.
I send my cries to ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’ –
not to any ‘higher power’:
the God of Jesus and the Holy Spirit,
of Adam, Moses and John,
Esther, Maria and Martha.
Of Kathleen Fowler,
of Mary Victor,
of Mary Louw,
of Nicolette Ferreira.
You are so welcome to place your own praise poems here!!