Once you have seen the splendor of coral reefs it’s easy to imagine that this underwater world is so fragile. That their existence is linked immediately to climate change is an indicator of the ecological distress on the planet caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases.

High ocean temperatures are taxing the organisms most sensitive to them, the shallow-water corals that create some of the world’s most vibrant and colorful seascapes . Coral reefs also harbor perhaps a quarter of all marine species, including a profusion of fish. Worldwide, corals are reacting to the changing temperatures of the oceans by bleaching, or shredding their color and going into survival mode.

This process has been going on ever since 1983 when the first large-scale weather event known as El Nino hit the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean. Serious regional bleaching has occurred intermittently ever since the 1983 disaster. And it looks like it’s not going to stop…*

*Excerpts from an article by Justin Gillis -The International Herald Tribune

So I feel that the time is right for a poem, a text I wrote on the beauty of coral reefs, ecosystems in peril. The translation from English to Xhosa was done by Lunga Heleni. The song was recorded in South Africa during February 2009 at Sonic Art studio in  Grahamstown.


Young Xhosa singer Yemu Matibe who studies at Grahamstown’s Rhodes University sings the operatic parts and Alungile Sixishe recites the text. The song is based upon ‘Dido & Anaïs’ by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell. Musical accompaniment  by Brazilian guitarist Nelson Latif and South African maestro James Foerie on kalimba and percussion. Piano by Coen Molenaar, cello by Bonno Lange.

Original version of  ‘Coral Reef ‘ from the album ‘Musique Exotique’ 

P + © Ubuntu Publishing 2010. catalog nr. UP 2010.002 CD

(poem for a) Coral Reef  -English lyrics

by Eddy De Clercq

Eternal source of color and light

a world without seasons

a world without reason

no day nor night

flowers born out of rock and sand

a garden untouched by human hand

rays of light break thru emerald

fish disappearing in deep blue depths

clouds of silver shimmering

vibrating pulse of life

thru misty depths of deep dark

full of unseen creatures

that crawl along the bottom

hide in cracks and holes of the reef

change color quickly

hide in a cloud of inky water

down here floating over the coral reef

this deafening silence that surrounds me

once man has seen this beauty

will he understand his own belief?

(poem for a) Coral Reef –Ikorale yoqaqa lolwandle -Xhosa lyrics

translated by Lunga Heleni

Mthombo wanaphakade wombala nokhanyo

Ilizwe ngaphandle kwamaxesha onyaka

Ilizwe ngaphandle kwezizathu

Kungekho suku nabusuku

Zintyatyamb’ ezizelelw’ ematyeni nasesantini

Sitiya esingachukunyiswanga sandla samntu

Matha okhanyo aqhekeza ngapha kwe – emeraldi

Ntlanzi ezinyamalalela kwiinzulw’ eziluhlaza

Mafu esilivere amenyezelayo

Intontozo esukumayo yobomi

Kwiinzulu ezinkungwana zobunzul’ obumnyama

Zizele zizilo ezingekabonwa

Zikhasela kumazantsi olwandle

Zizimele kumathanda nasemingxunyeni yoqaqa lolwandle

Zijik’ umbala msinyane

Zizimele kwilifu lamanz’ aluzizi

Ezantsi apha zidada ngaphaya kwekorale yolwandle

Lenzolw’ ibang’ ubuthul’ obundingqongayo

Xa umntu ethe wabona obubuhle

Angayiqonda na eyakhe inkolelo?

© Eddy De Clercq/Ubuntu Publishing 2010

Contact: ubuntu-publishing@xs4all.nl


10 thoughts on “Poem For A Coral Reef by Yemu Matibe & Alungile Sixishe; Musique Exotique

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