Poetry: Forced Removals, Township Life
Poet: Mafika Pascal Gwala
- ‘At least we can meet at the Indian market’
- She said way back in Cato Manor.
Cato Manor An area in Durban which experienced forced removals.
- Haven’t met her since.
- She, pushed into Umlazi
- Me, pushed into Kwa-Mashu.
- She looks at the city from the south
- I descend upon it from the north.
- Looks we’ve been both lost in the grey dizziness
- of our townships. That we can’t meet.
- OR – who hasn’t kept the promise?
The Start of a Removal
Poet: Sipho Sepamla
- On a Monday morning
- when some people were hailing taxis
- others rushing to buses and trains
- when teachers and schoolchildren
- were packing their books
- peeping out of windows to see so-and-so
- their timekeeper
- was leaving for the factory or office job
- when the local businessman
- eyes large and sleepy
- like he was an owl
- sat at the till
- waiting for the early customer
- to make his insomnia
insomnia Sleeplessness; being unable to sleep.
- when housewives started bending
- their over-used frames
- raising dust on the pavement
- clearing the night’s bloodstains and curses
- with home-made grass brooms
- when a midwife wearily flung
- instructions to an old lady
- whose daughter had just
- given birth to her third child
- by her third ‘boyfriend’
- the first five families
- woke up
- to the drone
drone endless, loud buzzing.
- and the impatience of heavy-duty trucks
The removal had started.
Questions on ‘Promise!’ and ‘The Start of a Removal’
- How did Apartheid affect the life of the person speaking in ‘Promise!’?
- ‘The Start of a Removal’ hardly tells us anything about the removal itself. Why do you think this is?
- ‘The Start of a Removal’ focuses on a neighbourhood in the early morning, getting ready for the day ahead. It only mentions in the last few lines that the community inhabiting the neighbourhood is being forcibly removed. What does this holding back of important information in the poem tell us about the effects of forced removals on families and communities?
Living in a Flat in Eldorado Park
Poet: Fhazel Johennesse
- Twenty-two kilometres away from the city
by wind and dust
ravaged Damaged or attacked.
- the roads bumpy and a challenge
- to all car owners and the postal service
- a happy lackadaisical
lackadaisical Laid-back or half-hearted.
- the blocks of flats scattered around at random
- and the outside walls of the flats defying
- cleanliness and the parade of life
- outside my door:
- the drunk trying to mount the steps
- swearing as he skids in predecessors’ vomit
- and a curious two-year-old watching
- his antics and a woman of indeterminate
indeterminate Unknown or uncertain.
- dragging an impossible bundle of washing with half a
- dozen kids clawing at her skirts and another
- toddler searching for space on a wall
- to mark his passing with a piece of chalk
- and the occasional tinkle of glass
- as a stone is hurled through a window
- and the grating
grating Harsh, unpleasant or irritating sound.
calling of a mother
- shouting for her child and
- the rich pong of gas exuding
exuding Coming out.
- the slowly rotting garbage in dustbins
- and the throaty gurgle of pipes
- as someone else’s crap passes through
- my flat and the infuriating
infuriating Causing anger.
- tap tap tap on the ceiling as
- some brat upstairs explores the
- mysteries of his floor with a hammer
- and the frequent knock on the door
- as someone tries yet again to sell
- tomatoes steelwool washing baskets
- dance-tickets spices or toilet-seats
- and the maddening toot-toot of
- the milkman as he sells his milk
- for four cents more than the dairy does
- i think of all these things
- when someone asks me if i like living
- in eldorado park
- not bad
- i say
- not bad at all
- Describe the challenges of living in Eldorado Park raised in the poem.
- What do the descriptions of the other people in the poem tell you about life in this community? Is it hard or easy? Give reasons for your answer.
- Do you think the speaker is sincere when he says life here is “not bad at all”? Why or why not? Why do you think he says that?