Having been through an election campaign in this country where personality and insults featured more highly than debate on issues, I remembered this poem from 2000 by John Agard and Caroline Sheldon. It seeks to puncture the received wisdom, promoted by television and newspapers, that everything can be reduced to its simplest terms and every argument has a right and wrong side with one comment per side from a person in the street to ‘even out’ all nuance.
How Aunty Nansi Singularly Widened the Debate on Plural Identity
What a high-brow-knitting controversy
When Aunty Nansi on topical TV show
Presented herself as proof of plurality.
Dressed in a side-splitting sari
A red gold and green necklace for Selassi
And a snazzy tartan shawl for the cold
Aunty Nansi sat up to her full height
Face straight up to camera in front row
Her stockings laddering the limelight
And with fingers nail-polished lilywhite
Same as she’s womanicured her every toe
She gesticulated to gentleman host:
“Now Mr Kilroy, you tell me
Am I Afro-Celto-Euro-Indo
Or just beautiful byproduct of cosmos?”
And with her question spiralling like a ghost
Aunty Nansi took the opportunity
To wave hello to her folks across the galaxy.
John Agard, Caroline Sheldon