A radical rethinking of the art of poetry in an apartheid society

for our future is a poem which says so 1

South African protest poetry of the late sixties and the early seventies directed itself to the oppressor, to those in power, and to those who were seen to be able to influence those in power: the white liberals, who ironically were the most powerless in the power game of white South Africa, constantly themselves threatened by those who oppressed the black majority. Before that, the sixties were the years of silence. In the year 1963 the South African government introduced the Publications Act, which wiped out the writing of most important South African writers.2 It was in the middle of the sixties that I became involved in South African poetry — as a writer and as one of the editors of Ophir. Journal for Poetry. In September 1968 we published one of the first poems of Oswald Mtshali,3 followed with „What's in this black 'Shit'" by Wally Mongane Serote in 1969,4 and Ophir 11 featured seven poems by Pascal [Mafika] Gwala.5 By the time we published our last issue in Spring 1976, black poetry had become a force no longer to be overlooked.6 And when Staffrider was launched in 1978, there was a chorus of black voices in poetry.7

That was the time of Black Consciousness.8 Black Consciousness poetry, while asserting the resources of Africa, and directing itself to a black and oppressed audience, did not always escape the gesture of protest. But postulating a „Black Aesthetics" or an „African Aesthetics" it cut itself loose rigorously from liberal and radical white tutelage, a necessary step in view of the arrogance and blindness of most white South African critics,9 and their attempts to steer Black poetry into safe channels of British aesthetics, „which had more to do with dictating to Blacks how they should think and feel then with telling them how to write good poetry" 10.Those who had equated their partial (white) aesthetics with aesthetics as such were suddenly challenged by another, equally partial, but powerful aesthetics, or by the total disregard of those they disregarded. James Mathews pre-emptively rejects the label „poetry" and those who set themselves up to bestow it: „To label my utterings poetry and myself a poet would be as self-deluding as the planners of parallel development. I record the anguish of the persecuted whose words are whimpers of woe wrung from them by bestial laws."11 „In any case," Mafika Gwala says, „the majority of our literary critics are intellectual propagandists. They prefer the language of the elite. Hence the cultural cynicism of South African English."12 Mafika Gwala is, however, not content with this merely negative stance which leaves the accolade „poetry" in the hands of the enemy. After asking „What's poetic / about long-term sentences and / deaths in detention", he articulates against the „unpoetic" reality of the apartheid state an „aesthetics of resistance",13 which appropriates the term „poetry" for a revolutionary praxis:

As long as
this land, my country
is unpoetic in its doings
it'll be poetic to disagree
14

New voices of the sixties and seventies were Sipho Sepamla,15 Madlenkosi Langa, Ingoapele Madingoane,16 Jennifer David,17 Fhazel Johenesse,18 Christopher van Wyk,19 Essop Patel,20 Donald Parenzee,21 James Mathews, and Gladys Thomas.22 But from the sixties to the late eighties among the growing chorus of powerful black protest poets and resistance poets there were always also white poets, whose contribution was considerable: Wopko Jensma,23 Jeremy Cronin,24 Keith Gottschalk,25 Ari Sitas,26 Kelwyn Sole,27 Antjie Krog,28 and Ingrid de Kok.29

In the late seventies and early eighties the mood changed. Trade Unions engaged in illegal strikes in Natal, the schoolchildren of Soweto rose in revolt, the Mass Democratic Movement re-formed and the UDF appeared openly on platforms. „Serote came with No Baby Must Weep."30 After that poetry which portrays the oppressed as weeping, can only falsify the historical reality. Protest poetry turned into struggle poetry, the poetry of those participating in one way or another in the fight against apartheid. It is no longer a poetry „waiting to be asked what the problem is." It is, in the words of Njabulo Ndebele „the poetry of a fighting people"31 June 16 meant the people were no longer prepared to allow themselves to be pushed around: „people said: 'Enough, our patience, it has limits' … „32 .This poetry proclaims a new truth:

Our blackman's history
is not written in classrooms
on wide smooth boards
Our history will be written
at the factory gates
at the unemployment offices
in the scorched queues of dying mouths


Our history shall be our joys
our sorrows
our anguish
scrawled in dirty Third Class toilets
Our history will be the distorted figures
and bitter slogans
decorating our ghetto walls
where flowers found no peace enough to grow
33

The poets I have selected here seem to me to have made a particularly important contribution to writing this history — practically and theoretically — and to the development of struggle poetry since the middle of the seventies. The truth of this poetry is not only a feeling, an emotion, a skillful way of handling language, but in the first instance a way a life and a way of thinking.

While the TV screen (in South Africa as elsewhere) celebrates a politics of destruction as aesthetics, portraying its machines and machine-like heroes as inviolable, victorious and whole, poets in apartheid South Africa — their eyes no longer „glued to the magic box / of nightmarish illusions"34 — counter the violation of the oppressed in a politicised art, citing the defeats of violable human flesh at the hand of the machinery of oppression as reason and evidence of a necessary revolution: „we did learn from the terror that it is us who will seize history / our freedom" 35.Or as Mafika Gwala says in „The ABC Jig":

By detaining us
By assaulting us
they had sent us on a Black Holiday:
they were teaching us hate;
By insulting us
they were telling us never
to turn the other cheek.
We have no more tears to shed."
36

While much of the even sympathetic West is more concerned of the consequences of colonial revolutions and how to contain them, poets in South Africa enquire, how the revolution can be made to work for the majority of the masses: „mouths which eat away the lie of / property / food shared so none go hungry" 37.Blacks are „refusing to bet on their poverty anymore."38 In his poem „Hewat" Kelwyn Sole addresses the question „Not: when shall we triumph? / But: how shall we triumph?" which by some comrades is considered to be „the wrong question", and says:

— It's a long way
from the food queues of underdevelopment
to the sky-inverted dreams of socialism [...]
and the monopoly of the State
in the neighbouring country he knows
didn't look to him
like a cornucopia,
like the end of exploitation of man
by man.
39

Going beyond protest, becoming a poetry of struggle, poetry still has to come to terms with the devastation wrought by 350 years of colonialism and 42 years of apartheid rule. The vision needs to go beyond getting rid of the „boere" first. It needs to take stock of the wholesale destruction of the country, which it hopes to inherit as the fruit of a struggle which took „time longer than rope" 40.As such it can neither address itself as protest to a white audience in South Africa or overseas, nor indulge in a facile optimism in view of the enormous tasks of reconstruction awaiting the nation. This poetry shows that the present time gapes with the wounds and scars, „tropical scars" and „bruise marks scars sensations / and feelings and stitches and eina ..." (Ari Sitas),41 it argues that „holes are forever cold and dark / and they threaten life" (Mongane Serote),42 documents that the present time gapes with the loss of the past time, and goes beyond the documentation in trying to fill that chasm that is „this expanse that claims me: my Hell".43

The destruction and devaluation entails all of humanity's space: „the houses we live in, the streets we walk on, the work we do",44 even nature (most of which is re-made by man anyway). In the time of oppression instead of a real sky „there is a sky: yes - / blue-like, grey-like, alien-like", instead of real love there are „prerecorded love-sighs" .(Ari Sitas).45 Man has to „trade away his dreams for sixpence", his soul and his inside succumb to the attack of the machines. The wages of capitalism for our labour are what we want and need to survive, but not what we desire in order to live. „The issue is not simply one of race, but is bound up with class interests", as Serote says: „the economic system, while it exploits blacks, has put whites in a position of relative privilege",46 although being black does not preserve one from being a „fatcat in your Mercedes" 47.For those forced into the system by hunger, poll tax and dwindling land

the roaring machines and hammers
which like fire erasing grass
erase all memories of loved ones",
48
because the system of contract labour forces the worker to leave his family behind in the „reserves", now euphemistically called „homelands" .The life of the masses is filled with a different experience of the world: the boredom of repetitive and soul-destroying work, the boredom of long years in jail, but also moments of collective and individual festivity which differ in content and form from apparently similar experiences of the poet of the 'elite' .However, where the poet takes part in a different praxis, one which subverts the capitalist and racist mode of production of South Africa, there is, as in Kelwyn Sole's poetry, the counter-image, not utopian but experienced:
Change comes with every spade's turn
freedom will come
when the small person stands up
no tyrant can prevail
what hands achieve in harmony
slides from the grip of capital.
Rocks can dance:
the desert slowly made to bloom.
49

Poetry is about the time lost and time regained, about penetrating the silences imposed on us by a regime of censorship. The time is to be recovered by a struggle, but also by the word, so that the struggle knows what the struggle needs to recover. These poems — written by blacks and whites — are not really speaking to those who watch the class struggle from the hill. Reacting to the extreme experience of states of emergencies, hanging judges, life imprisonment, police hit squad, army death squads, vigilante attacks, destruction of the homes of millions of people, the wholesale eviction of traditional societies from their ancestral land and of urban squatters from their meagre shacks, poets like Mongane Serote understand that „even the songs we sang as boys yield / to new words which must hold our lives" 50.As Gwala says: „You cannot divorce language from power" 51.Nothing has escaped the imprint of the coloniser:

here
the footsteps of apartheid
like a red hot iron rod placed on the flesh
has left its footprints,
on infants
on women and mothers
on men and fathers
on children
it has left its marks
52

„The poets in the slaughterhouse"53 are constantly torn between the need to act and to write, — „because when your mother goes mad / you would rather help her to sanity than just talk about her madness"54 — nevertheless South African poets understand the necessity for words, for art in the struggle, because talking about the madness may indeed be one way amongst many to effect a cure of insanity: both psychoanalysts and the traditional sangoma know the effectiveness of the „talking cure" .When Barry Feinberg says: „The revolutionary poet concretizes the dreams of the people for a better life; the liberation movement fights to make these dreams a reality",55 he obviously does not exclude the possibility that the poet does both. While on one level in South Africa „there is no difference between the warrior, the poet and the people",56 while the black poet functions as a „guerilla fighter who can talk Black English and ignore accepted aestetics",57 on another level poetry functions as that which allows ourselves the necessary breathing space of seeing the contradictions in ourselves and the enemy.58 Poetry is a means of survival in the trauma of this society, and a means of survival in the flood of media propaganda: so „we mount the words till we can swim".59

While the police state gains knowledge out of bodies „strung upside down" in a police cell until it yields its information:

Probed without days
in a night
in a river of needles
The clammy hood
choke hold
a year without season
For months
your bodies probed
months long
60

the resistance gains knowledge out of its own defeats and its occasional victories, out of the full, uncensored experience, including those facts which are not to our own credit. Like the "necklace":

Two days ago
he helped put the necklace
round the neck of an old woman:
traitor, witch
in her tiny room of evil smells
reported by her neighbours
brought before the people's court
licked by the tongues of a mob
of hostile youths with sjamboks
in their right hand and a bright
conviction in their left
61

Poetry cannot shun the „blue flames of petrol", the „blood and guts" of this experience, because such knowledge must be preserved. Like that experience gathered „in the slaughterhouse", on death-row, it is vital information, power to the people. There is a nexus of violence between these youth and the three „terrorist"-freedom fighters in Cronin's poem, who remain „unbowed" by all tortures, and sing:

Into each night's
Finale, all three
Three now
As one: Tha-a-a
Inta
nasha-na-ale
yooonites tha
hooman
reisssss. a-MAAA
-ndla ! longleev
sisulu-mandela-tambo
LONGleev! LONGleev!
shouted longleev!
Your voices, brothers
Down these concrete
Corridors of power.
62

The legal and illegal murders of our civil wars have separated us as securely as the words of our discourse from what now appears as slime, filth, defilement: „the shitsmell that's Hitler-fart" — as Gwala describes it — which envelops „my memory, like chains embrace my feet / my gait is jammed in bloody mud",63 — as Serote says — and: „behold your nightmare grows and grows like / waves of the sea / Africa"64 This poetry is littered with words like „scavenger, rodents, stench and smell of death, pain of humiliation, storm, raging, choking dust."65 Like the Thebes of Oedipus, Ari Sitas' Natal is a miasma, a defilement stopping life, a constant violation of what is human and what is according to nature. Kelwyn Sole describes the horrifying experience „in the war zone" in Namibia:

The bodies pile in the morning
found in neat rows
next to the homestead palisades
In front of the sights —
a six-month child, its face
blown away by the careless
gesture of a finger:
a cast-off doll
that was his mother,
her chest tattooed with bayonet thrusts
66
The experience of the civil war, that there are „people / felled / the dawn's street cleaners sweeping leaves and dreams", has made the force of the masses a psychopathological force, workers tearing workers apart in clashes between vigilantes and Inkatha on the one side and the ANC and COSATU on the other. „The national dance is a funeral / whirling round and round"
67.Its madness, however, is nothing but the replica of the madness of this time, the „ubuthi of tribalism / ubisi of hatred / fed to us by false inyangas",68 the last spasm of a settler colony about to fall apart. Ari Sitas' poems are at home in the defeats of the people, and in the lessons to be drawn from them. You must savour defeat if you want to understand the remedy: easy solutions are usually false trails into the thickets of confusion. The propaganda of Inkatha and its success, the question, why so many of those who have an objective revolutionary interest retain a cathexis of the reactionary type,69 needs to be confronted and is confronted in Ari Sitas' poem Cosatu - You Xhosas: „What stokvel is this / with workers in giya / swaying pangas stained with the / class's own blood" 70.But there are some who benefit from it, and some whose paranoia sees foreigners and enemies in the members of their own class; and the paranoia is nothing but the fear to lose the last means of survival: „you are foreigners / stealing our jobs and our money ..." The solution follows well-known patterns. Like the Jews who were gassed and burned to smoke to rise into the sky by the Nazis, the Zulu nationalists provide „Tyre-necklaces for you for your exit / despatch: to Zulu upstairs". 71

True, „the contempt for the oppressor is an affirmation for the oppressed people",72 but contempt limits one's understanding of the power to oppress. The vision of a nemesis encompasses both oppressors and oppressed: „most whites reacting in a blur of fear or masochistic relish; most blacks in a red haze of revenge-lust. In either case the actors in the prophecy are dehumanised. Serote is exceptional in holding to a vision as direly purposive as any, but which sheds no shading of human complexity: on either side people are both dangerous and desperately vulnerable."73 Poetic language contrary to the univocity of our discourse of interdicts attempts a reconciliation with what we have excluded: the Other, the enemy, but also pleasure and pain.

Of course all this had to be said under conditions of heavy repression and censorship, of the state banning volume and volume of poetry, banning leaders of the people, killing, mutilating, burning, using all means at its disposal to make the production of new insights impossible, but the experience that „we have been silenced / as tellers of tales / for only brief times" points to the fact that neither open repression nor banning orders, neither censorship nor confiscations have been able to interrupt the voice of the repressed for any length of time effectively. The oppressed still say, and therefore the poem still says: „Asinamali / and that I am hungry for the oorlam's / the skappie's / the slave's revenge."74 The workers understand and therefore the poem understands the power of the switch that switches off the machine, the strike.

In the time of police brutality and the constant presence of the army in every township, in the time when tens of thousands are detained for their attempt to free themselves from oppression, poetry is like the signs which the prisoner transmits (illegally) so as to break through the imposed silence and disruption of communication:

He turns his back to me, now watch
His free hand, the talkative one,
Slips quietly behind - Strength brother, it says,
In my mirror, A black fist.
75
Under the continual state of emergency in South Africa, declared and undeclared, poetry became a possible sign, transmitted where open political signs were prohibited by magistrates and security laws. Across these signs
The years flow into each other
The struggle goes on.
76

Alex Levumo, in reviewing Serote's No Baby Must Weep, considered the poets relation to the masses: „The subject is inseparable from the masses, and if the subject is entombed, it is the dead weight of the collective experience of the masses that appears as the subject's burden. The subject cannot personally transcend this burden. The only hope of transcendence into the time of liberation lies with the »river«; with the subsumption of the subject to the flow of the river, in which the black man is seen as the inevitable rising tide."77 In A Tough Tale Serote formulates this relationship as follows:

There is no way this tale can be told
by a little man like me
it is a tale
fresh every minute and every hour
it is a gurgle tale of blood
a fugue
it is a tale of deaths died in strange ways and places
it is told by flashes of purple, yellow and green smoke and flames
flying in the sky, devouring hate
it is a tale told by running footsteps at night
this tale is told in the streets of my town
in the alleys of my night hour
it is told by the surge of masses of people
78
The poet may be in prison, the time may crawl through the „the prisoners' variant of the Einsteinian space-time equation: claustrophobically little space; depressingly long time",
79 where hope may be seem to be dying:
A time that walks in circles.
A time that flattens itself
incredibly then
disappears
into the back of mirrors
or drips from the taps
80

It is the harshest imaginable environment to sustain hope: „Mirrors (whose illusion doubles space), rivers (which flow through time), and pools (which stagnate) are Cronin's metaphoric instruments to transmute the physics of potential madness into the metaphysics of illusion for survival."81 Similarly Mzwakhe Mbuli writes in jail:

No mirror permitted to create my twinself;

And conquer the loneliness;
Alone all alone.
82

But the poet is never alone. Keith Gottschalk writes in prison:

OUT THERE, OUR COMRADES FIGHT
we the captives
file down the chains -

tunnel in: messages & hope
tunnel out: plans & encouragement
analyse debate hunger-strike;
we people solitary
with poems, songs, chants;
because we know:
outside
our comrades fight on!
83

Because the poet is with the masses, there is always one certainty in this poetry:

we also know
as the roots hold the tree
and the sun or the moon light the earth
or the earth moves to make time
so are we
hundreds
thousands of us, millions
move
and will make change
it is our hands, legs, eyes and ears
which hold
walk
see and hear
84

These poems show that a full awareness of the horrors of our civil war can co-exist with a belief in a different future which is far distanced from any facile optimism about the imminence of utopia at the end of the struggle. The optimism originates in the reality of the struggle, but also in the creativeness and inventiveness of the text. It becomes credible in the text, because „the text has a truth, which it alone can express." The truth of [political?] poetry „is problematical because the object we encounter in our reading is not the real one."85 That doesn't say that it is not real: in fact what was not visible a year ago has suddenly filled the football stadiums and the Grand Parade with tens and hundreds of thousands of people. It is real in that it writes the slime and the filth of this society, is itself part of the excreta of an illness, catharsis. Beyond the corpses shot by the oppressors, however, there is this real hope, the „tin door" through which the fighter left and which now has gained a new significance „awaiting the return / the return of a nation." It is a certainty which nearly has reached the goal of its prophecy: freedom in South Africa! Mayibuye!


1 Wally Mongane Serote, A Tough Tale. London: Kliptown Books 1987, p. 39


2
Cf. „Black Writers in South Africa. Jaki Seroke speaks to Miriam Tlali, Sipho Sepamla and Mothobi Mutloatse" .In: Ten Years of Staffrider 1978-1988. Edited by Andries Walter Oliphant and Ivan Vladislavic. Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1988, p. 303. In 1966 the following South African writers in exile were listed under the Suppression of Communism Act: Mazisi Kunene, Todd Matshikiza, Bloke Modisane, Es'kia Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi, Cosmo Pieterse, Can Themba. Alfred Hutchinson, Dennis Brutus and Alex la Guma had earlier been banned under the same Act. Lionel Abrahams rather naïvely finds this „governmental muzzling" „politically inexplicable" !Lionel Abrahams, „Black Experience into English Verse: A Survey of Local African Poetry, 1960 — 1970" .In: New Nation. Pretoria, Vol. 3, No. 7 (February 1970)

3 „The Master of the House" .In: Ophir 6, p. 7, followed by „Boy on a Swing" and „Moulting Country Bird" .In Ophir 7 (December 1968) p. 3, „Ride upon the Death Chariot", In: Ophir 10 (December 1969) p. 4; his first volume of poetry was published by Renoster Books in 1971: Sounds of a Cowhide Drum, in the same year as the anthology Seven South African Poets, banned in South Africa. Fireflames by Oswald Mtshali was published and banned in 1980. Abrahams 1970, see note 2, refers to a few other black poets published at about the same time in New Coin and The Classic.

4 Ophir 9 (July 1969), p. 16. His first book was Yakhal'inkomo .Renoster Books 1972

5 „Kwela Ride", „Things", „Promise","An Attempt at Communication", „Food for the Couple", „Election Pincers", „When it's all Double-You" .Followed by „The 'Chewing' of her Time" in Ophir 13 (April 1971) and „Gumba, Gumba, Gumba" in Ophir 15 (December 1971). Mafika Gwala, Jol'iinkomo 1977. The same issue contained the first poems by Mandlenkosi Langa: „The Rubber Stamp" and „The Pension Jive-Ass".

6 They had featured prominently in 1974 at the Poetry South Africa Conference at UCT 1974. Cf. Michael Chapman (ed.), Soweto Poetry. Johannesburg: McGraw-Hill 1982. Cf. Jeremy Cronin, „Ideology & Literary Studies in South Africa. The Case of Black English Language Poetry" .In: Zak van Straaten et. al., Ideological Beliefs and Research in the Social Sciences. Cape Town: U.C.T. 1985, p. 139

7 What Sigrid Weigel said about women, is equally true about black writers in South Africa: Sigrid Weigel, „Overcoming Absence: Contemporary German Women's Literature" (Part Two). In: new german critique, Vol. 32, 1984, p. 20 that „Lyric poetry experienced a tremendous upswing, particularly at the beginning of women's literature and among nonprofessional authors. The desire for subjective expression and the erroneous assumption that the lyrical genre would be easily accessible led to an abundance of poetry publications in the women's public sphere."

8 In 1968 SASO (South African Student Organisation) was formed with Steve Biko as first President. Cf. Peter Horn, „When it Rains, it Rains: U.S. Black Consciousness and Lyric Poetry in South Africa" .In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, pp. 162-168 and Mafika Gwala, „Black Writing Today" .In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, pp. 169-174 and other articles in that collection.

9 This stance is so ubiquitous that to single out any individual critic would be invidious. Confronted with the phenomenon of a vigorous black poetry „the most common response" from English Departments in any case „was a deafening silence" .Other strategies were to limit the meaning of „poetry" in such a way that all that does not conform to the standards of a Eurocentric poetics automatically falls out of sight of the critic as mere „verse" or as mere sociological document. Cf. Cronin 1985, see note 6, p. 139, 143f; for a critique of the thinking in English departments, see Vaughan, Michael, „The Critique of the Dominant Ideas in Departments of English in the English-Speaking Universities of South Africa"; Visser, Nick „English Studies in Transition"; Visser, Nick, „The Critical Situation and the Situation of Criticism" .All in: Critical Arts. A Journal for Media Studies. Vol. 3 (1984) No. 2.

10 David Maugham Brown, „Black Criticism and Black Aesthetics" .In: Chapman 1982, p. 47, see note 6. Brown was responding to the debate erupting in Contrast, after the publication of A.G. Ullyat, „Dilemmas in Black Poetry" .Contrast Cape Town, No. 44 (1977), pp. 51-62. Respondents in the debate were: Jack Cope, „Notes", pp. 3 and 94-96; Hedy I. Davis, „Insult to Poets", pp. 88-90; Jos Slabbert, „Dilemmas of Bourgeois Criticism: Open Letter", pp. 85-87; Kelwyn Sole, „Prejudiced Approach", pp. 91-94; all in Contrast Cape Town, No. 46 (1978)

11 James Matthews and Gladys Thomas, Cry Rage! Johannesburg: Ravan 1972, p. 70

12 Mafika Gwala, „Towards a National Culture" .Interviewed by Thengamehlo Ngewenya. In: Staffrider Vol. 8, 1989, p. 72

13 Cf. Peter Horn, „Aesthetics and the Revolutionary Struggle: Peter Weiss's novel »The Aesthetics of Resistance«" .In: Critical Arts. Vol. 3, 1985, No. 4, pp. 7-54

14 Mafika Gwala, No More Lullabies. Johannesburg: Ravan 1982, p. 10

15 Sipho Sepamla, Hurry Up To It!. Johanesburg: Ad. Donker 1975; Sipho Sepamla, The Blues is You in Me. Johanesburg: Ad. Donker 1976; Sipho Sepamla, The Soweto I Love. London: Collins 1977 (banned in South Africa)

16 Ingoapele Madingoane, Africa my Beginning. Johannesburg: Ravan 1979 (banned for distribution in South Africa)

17 Jennifer Davids, Searching for Words. Cape Town: David Philip 1974

18 Fhazel Johenesse, The Rainmaker. Johannesburg: Ravan 1979

19 Christopher van Wyk, It is Time to Go Home. Johannesburg: Ad. Donker 1979

20 Essop Patel, They Came at Dawn. Athlone: Blac 1980

21 Donald Parenzee, Driven to Work. Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1985

22 James Matthews and Gladys Thomas, Cry Rage!. Sprocas-Ravan 1972; James Matthews, Pass Me a Meatball, Jones. Athlone: Blac 1977; James Matthews (ed.), Black Voices Shout. Athlone: Blac 1974 (all banned in South Africa)

23 Wopko Jensma's where white is the colour where black is the number Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1974 has just been unbanned (July 1990) after 16 years. His other volumes are: Sing for Our Execution Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1973, and i must show you my clippings, Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1977; cf. Peter Horn, „The Psychological Pauperization of Man in our Society: Reflections on the Poetry of Wopko Jensma." In: Quarry '77 New South African Writing Edited by Lionel Abrahams and Walter Saunders. Johannesburg: Ad. Donker 1977, pp. 111-121 (see also this volume)

24 Jeremy, Cronin, Inside. Ravan, Johannesburg 1983.

25 Keith Gottschalk published widely in poetry magazines and is a popular performance poet. His collected poems are to be published in the near future: Keith Gottschalk, Emergency Poems / Imibongo Yenxakeko / Noodgedigte. Cf. also Peter Horn, „Written poetry for performance. (Jeremy Cronin, Keith Gottschalk)" .In: Reingard Nethersole (ed.), Emerging Literatures. Bern, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, New York 1990

26 Ari Sitas, Productive Mythologies. University of Natal (Limited Edition, not for circulation) 1985; Ari Sitas, Tropical Scars Congress of South African Writers 1989; cf. Peter Horn, „Tropical Scars by Ari Sitas." In Staffrider vol.8 nos. 3 & 4, 1989, pp.185-193 (see also this volume)

27 Kelwyn Sole, The Blood of our Silence. Johannesburg: Ravan 1987

28 Antjie Krog, Dogter van Jefta. Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1970; Januarie-Suite Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1972; Beminde Antarktika Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1975; Mannin Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1975; Otters in Bronslaai Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1981; Jerusalemgangers Cape Town: Human and Rousseau 1985; Lady Anne Johannesburg: Taurus 1989

29 Ingrid de Kok, Familiar Ground. Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1988

30 Njabulo Ndebele, Life-Sustaining Poetry of a Fighting People. In Staffrider Vol. 5, 1983, No. 3, p.44f; Wally Mongane Serote, No Baby must Weep. Johannesburg: Ad. Donker 1975.

31 Ndebele 1983, see note 30, p.44f

32 Cronin 1983, p. , see note 24

33 Gwala 1982, see note 14, p. 44

34 Gwala 1982, see note 14, p. 12

35 Mongane Serote, „No more Strangers".

36 Gwala 1982, see note 14, p. 76

37 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 16

38 Gwala 1982, see note 14, p. 12

39 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 33f

40 Edward Roux, Time Longer than Rope. A History of the Black Man's Struggle for Freedom in South Africa. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press 1948, 1964, 1978

41 Sitas 1989, see note 26

42 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 12

43 Sitas 1989, see note 26, p.

44 Frank Meintjies in his introduction to Sitas 1989, see note 27, p.

45 Sitas 1989, see note 26, p.

46 Michael Chapman, „Interview with Mongane Serote (1980)" .In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, p. 114f

47 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 70

48 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 12

49 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 16

50 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 15

51 Mafika Gwala, „Towards a National Culture" .Interviewed by Thengamehlo Ngewenya. In: Staffrider Vol. 8, 1989, p. 72

52 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 9

53 Cf. Christopher Hope's review of Mongane Serote's first volume Yakhal'inkomo: „The Poet in the Abattoir" .In: Chapman 1982, pp. 72-73, cf. note 6. Mongane Serote recalls the Poetry '74 at UCT, when they read the news of Tiro's murder by a parcel bomb in Botswana: „Oswald [Mtshali] read aloud that Tiro had been disembowelled, his hands were torn off, he was defaced when the bomb exploded — a parcel bomb sent from Geneva addressed to him. God! What are poems?" Mongane Serote, „Feeling the Waters" .In: Chapman 1982, p. 111

54 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 8

55 Quoted from Mbulelo Mzamane, „Literature and Politics among Blacks in South Africa" .In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, p. 156; see also Richard Rive, „Writing or Fighting. The Dilemma of the Black South African Writer" .In: Staffrider Vol. 8, 1989, No. 1, pp. 48-54

56 Nikki Giovanni, quoted in Vernie February, „Sipho Sepamla's The Soweto I Love" In: Chapman 1982, p. 83

57 Vernie February, „Sipho Sepamla's The Soweto I Love" In: Chapman 1982, p. 83

58 Cf. Andries Walter Oliphant, „Comment" .In: Staffrider Vol. 8, No. 1 1989, p. 3: „Only privileged philistines with narrow bourgeois mentalities will argue for a complete disengagement of literature from history and politics, while discreetly or not so discreetly supporting the political and cultural imperatives of racial capitalism. On the other hand, only fascists, who, as we historically know, are the perverted but nevertheless logical consequence of capitalism in crisis, will reduce literature to politics."

59 Serote 1987, see note 1, p. 24

60 Cronin 1983, see note 24, p. 27

61 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 57

62 Cronin 1983, p. 30f, see note 25

63 Mongane Serote, Behold Mama, Flowers. Johannesburg: Ad. Donker 1978

64 Serote 1978, see note 63

65 Vernie February, „Sipho Sepamla's The Soweto I Love" In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, p. 82

66 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 26f

67 Sole 1987, see note 27, p. 82

68 ubuthi = poisonous concoction, ubisi = milk, inyanga = witch doctor

69 Cf. Gilles Deleuze, und Félix Guattari, Anti-Ödipus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie. Frankfurt am Main 1974, p. 445

70 stokvel = rotating thrift club, giya = war dance, panga = machete, long knife

71 Zulu also means „sky, heaven"

72 Essop Patel, „Excerpt from a Letter" [published in They Came at Dawn (1980)]. In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, p. 127

73 Lionel Abrahams, „»Political Vision of a Poet«: Review of Mongane Serote's Tsetlo" .In: Chapman 1982, p. 74-75, see note 6

74 asinamali = we have no money; oorlam = detribalised Khoi San; oorlams = clever, shrewd, sharp; skappie = skapie? lamb? herder?

75 Cronin, 1983, p. 17, see note 24

76 Cronin 1983, see note 24

77 Alex Levumo, „Mongane Serote's No Baby Must Weep." In: Chapman 1982, see note 6, p. 77

78 Serote 1987, p. 32, see note 1

79 Keith Gottschalk, „Review: Inside. Jeremy Cronin (Ravan, Johannesburg 1983)." In: Critical Arts. A Journal for Media Studies. Vol. 3 (1984) No. 2, p 54; see also „Jeremy leer eie gedigte 7 jaar lang agter tralies" .In: Rapport Ateljee 15 April 1984; „Hy is Jeremy" .In: Die Burger 2 April 1984; „Compassionate Convict" .In: Frontline Books, 4, 1984, pp.19-21; Jessie Prisman, „On the bookshelf" .In: Cape Times 11 January 1984

80 Cronin 1983, p. 17, see note 24

81 Gottschalk 1984, see note 79, p 54

82 Mzwakhe Mbuli, Before Dawn. Johannesburg: COSAW 1989

83 Gottschalk, see note 25

84 Serote 1987, p. 20f, see note 1

85 Pierre Macherey, A Theory of Literary Production. London and New York 1986 (1978), p.47


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