day 22 - closing of traction ave

Interview with Roger Nduku

Roger Nduku, who is in the ensemble, is also a poet who has been writing since he was a teenager in the Congo.  He first wrote in French, but started writing in English when he came to the United States in 1988. I noticed him showing another cast member his chapbook on the way to music rehearsal and found time to talk with him about his poetry and his experience in the play. Nduku hasn't been in a play since high school, but has always been a creative person.  He also paints on canvas, and in San Francisco, met drummer Carlos Aldama who taught him drumming in the Mission. He is a resident of the neighborhood and decided to try out for the play after he walked by Cornerstone and saw the announcement for auditions. “I live in the neighborhood and see the reality of the neighborhood,” said Nduku, who voiced some skepticism about whether the play will change how people react to him in this community.  “Once the play is done, will people say hi to me on the street as a black man?” Nduku mentioned that he thought that community projects were different in Africa because everybody participated in the community with respect to what others were doing.  In contrast, he was bothered by what he viewed as a lack of respect by some people who continue to cross the street even if they see that the street is blocked off because of the play. However, Nduku said that he has appreciated this experience to be part of the group and will try to be in another play after this one. “Human beings are social animals,” he explained.  “The main question is who are you, where do you come from and where are you going.  If you can't answer, you're not doing anything.”

Ching-In Chen


a poem by Roger Nduku Makpaulu

how much time is it left,
for you to go crazy,
fall in love with your own self,
drop your pants for the heck of it,
mooning the sky, the moon
and all lovers alike?

how much time is it left,
for you to get crazy,
feel the love within your own flesh,
drop your guilt,shaking yourself loose,
in a limitless sky,
allowing the lover to awake?

how much time is left,
for love of flesh to be dropped,
for Christ sake!
opening the skies to all lovers alike?

how much time for Anna,the sterile,
To meet with Magdalena, the prostitute,
And in communal union,
melt into Maria,
Virgin matter again...

how much time do you think you got left?

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