Poetry: Homelands

The next three poems explore life in the Homelands. They speak to how the Homelands were supposedly a place for ‘Separate Development’, but were actually designed as part of an oppressive system. Homelands were poor and undeveloped, and they became dumping grounds for people who could no longer work in white South Africa.

While you read the first poem, bear in mind that the voice speaking in a poem is not always the voice of the poet. In this case the poet is speaking in the voice of a character, and doesn’t necessarily support what the character believes. Try to work out who the character might be, based on what they believe.

South of The Border

Poet: Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane


  1. Who do you think is speaking in the poem? Who are they speaking to?
  2. What does the poem tell us about conditions in the Homelands?
  3. How does the poem show Apartheid thinking?

These Black Hands

Poet: Modikwe Dikobe

Forgotten People

Poet: Nkathazo ka Mnyayiza

Questions on ‘These Black Hands’ and ‘Forgotten People’

Both these poems describe men who have been ‘dumped’ in the Homelands.

  1. What work did the character in ‘These Black Hands’ do?
  2. What is the relationship between the worker and the bosses in ‘These Black Hands’?
  3. Which words and images in ‘Forgotten People’ suggest that the people there – including the old man – are struggling to survive and retain the will to live?