Marlene Dumas

Southern Comfort

There’s always been a lot of water in the sea.
Now there’s too many Chinese in Africa, maybe.
And what about the Americans in the Congo
who were undercover, without telling me?

Left the white beaches of South Africa
for the dark continent of Europe and now
the United States of America.

Never knew that Columbus went the wrong way
looking for a shortcut to get to the East, to China.
Instead he stumbled upon America
and realizing that it was somewhere else,
he thought, this must be India!
So that’s why he called the natives Indians.

In 1620, the Mayflower brought the first group
of pale-faced pilgrims to America.
In 1619, a Dutchman brought the first group
of African slaves to America.

Centuries later, in the late 1960’s, I was sitting in Africa
reading Time magazine and listening to Janis Joplin singing
Big Mama Thornton’s song, Ball and Chain.

Southern Comfort Written (together with Homage to the Polaroid, Measuring your own Grave, Framing and Naming, North Africa (Woman of Algiers), Beaches ain’t what they used to be and Expiring Dates) for and first published in Marlene Dumas, Measuring your own Grave, (cat.), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008, p.179; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.