Boogey Down: a poem by Miriam Louie
Boogey Down

By Miriam Ching Yoon Louie

Pump up the volume
Hips rolling
Arms waving
Fingers popping
Bodies undulating
Sweat flying
Comes the call
"Party over here!"
Then the response
"Party over there!"

"Party over here!"
Oakland Convention Center
Eve of South Africa's first free elections
After years pounding pavements, picket lines
Arrests, tent cities, boycotts, sanctions
Folks can't wipe the grin off their face
Bopping shoulder to shoulder with
Bay Area Free South Africa Movement
Rainbow Coalition vets
Black elected officials
Niagra Democratic Club
Vukani Mawethu
Every choir and reggae band
That ever graced East Oakland
Labor and community activists
Vendors of incense, kente cloth, ANC T-shirts
It's not everyday
That folks get to rock out
To a victory this sweet.

"Party over there!"
Is the reason we got party over here
Polling lines wiggle all over the country
Old timers lean on canes
Get carted in chairs, stretchers, wheel barrows
To cast the first
Possibly the last vote
In their whole weary lives
Mandela dignified
Unbelievably broadminded
World statesman
All those years in prison
Didn't break but prepared him
Non-racial is real
Not rhetoric
During his inauguration
Jets thunder overhead
People go crazy
Realizing the country
Jets and all
Finally belongs to them.

Everyone who would have been busted
For even thinking about
Toie toieing under apartheid
Now doing it on dusty roads
In trucks, buses, trains
For days, nights
Beyond the point of exhaustion
Possessed by the spirits of the
Steve Bikos
Ruth Firsts
Chris Hanis
Fallen comrades of

So boogey down, Sisters & Brothers
Pump up the volume
Then build your nation
Your liberation
God Bless Africa.