25th October, 1964

by Kayombo Chingonyi


25th October, 1964

We danced like Celts the day the news of it

kicked the District Commissioner’s fat rump.

Teachers who beat us till we couldn’t sit,

over little things, were, by lunch, so drunk

Mr Chishala shut the school and followed

his staff to a bar where ten shilling notes

came back as loose change, baked groundnuts, hallowed

pitchers of the local brew (a throat song

known as Mosi). They drank to the freedom

our children would inherit, then raised a glass

to Leyland’s Hippo-shaped buses, heaving

with the copper belt’s weary underclass

who, in spite of a new nation, were still dressed

in hunched shoulders, the shame of un-puffed chests.