We sit in camp chairs around ashes of the previous night’s fire. Man Power’s eyes flick back and forth. He shares one of his poems, one about love.
Once the poem begins, once he finds the rhythm, Man Power’s eyes stop fleeting into corners of the camp. No faltering or self-consciousness as he recites the poem from memory.
Man Power’s poems are to be spoken with certain rules. The transcriptions are rough and cannot carry the energy within the words. “It is different for the reader,” Man Power admits.
Love, Love is a sickness, flow forth
The more you enjoy it, the more it dies
If not enjoyed, it lightly cries
You may lose it like the threat of lightning
Flash into your eyes.
His ancestry comes from the Bushmen, those who lived and died in the Delta. They carried their stories in memories and shared them over campfires. The fires kept predators at bay and dramatic shadows across the storyteller’s countenance.
“The Bushmen live long lives,” Man Power says. He speaks in quiet tones and takes long pauses to gather his words.
The Bushmen gathered their medicines from the Delta and stayed secluded from the diseases of the city. He claims to have met a man born in 1898 who is still alive and can walk at times without the assistance of a cane.
His life and the land surrounding us are forever entwined. From the land stems his ancestry and an oral tradition that fuels his art. The Delta brings food, medicine, clean water, tourism and their livelihood.