Happy birthday Tata Madiba!


Mandela day_blog

Today South Africa, and the rest of the world, celebrates #MadibaDay, the birthday of former president Nelson Mandela. It is commemorated by donating 67 minutes, the amount of years Tata spent sacrificing his life towards the struggle for democracy, in aid of goodwill. This year we celebrate the first Madiba Day without him. He would have turned 96 today.

In honour of this great man I’d like to share a poem of late South African poet, Ingrid Jonker. I have studied some of Jonker’s poetry in the past and although her work mirrored that of a dark, deeply troubled soul, it was also very profound. She was talented beyond her years. Jonker committed suicide by walking into the sea at Three Anchor Bay. She was 31 years old.

The significance of this particular poem, Die kind is nie dood nie (The child is not dead), is that Nelson Mandela read it, in the original Afrikaans (nogal!), during his address at the opening of the first democratic parliament in South Africa, on 24 May 1994.

Of Jonker, Madiba reportedly said : “She was both a poet and a South African. She was both an Afrikaner and an African. She was both an artist and a human being. In the midst of despair, she celebrated hope. Confronted by death, she asserted the beauty of life.”

I will include the English version of the poem at the bottom for my non-Afrikaans followers.

Enjoy! xoxo
Die kind is nie dood nie –  Ingrid Jonker

Die kind is nie dood nie
die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy moeder
wat Afrika skreeu skreeu die geur van vryheid en heide
in die lokasies van die omsingelde hart

Die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy vader
in die optog van die generasies
wat Afrika skreeu skreeu die geur
van geregtigheid en bloed
in die strate van sy gewapende trots

Die kind is nie dood nie
nòg by Langa nòg by Nyanga
nòg by Orlando nòg by Sharpville
nòg by die polisiestasie in Philippi
waar hy lê met ‘n koeël deur sy kop

Die kind is die skaduwee van die soldate
op wag met gewere sarasene en knuppels
die kind is teenwoordig by alle vergaderings en wetgewings
die kind loer deur die vensters van huise en in die harte
van moeders
die kind wat net wou speel in die son by Nyanga is orals
die kind wat ‘n man geword het trek deur die ganse Afrika
die kind wat ‘n reus geword het reis deur die hele wêreld

Sonder ‘n pas


The child is not deadIngrid Jonker

The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart

The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath
of righteousness and blood
in the streets of his embattled pride

The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain

The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa

the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
Without a pass